Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Teaching Moment

There are two ways to teach an introductory reporting course. You can present dull workmanlike stories to the youth or you can present odd but still workmanlike stories to the youth. I like the odd stories. They remind students of The Onion, which does such a good job of illustrating some of conventions of deracinated newswriting by placing them in inappropriate contexts.

Better when it's a real story. Earlier this week I talked, and blogged, about the dead cat sitter. In some ways, it was an odd story. The follow up today was odd also, but done with care.

We join the story in medias res.

Oliver declined to be interviewed Tuesday outside his rented flat on the 1900 block of Page Street, which remained sealed by the medical examiner. A neighbor, though, said Oliver had told him the body was naked and handcuffed, with a plastic bag tied around the head. Police would not comment on those details.

Oliver told police and neighbors that the dead person might have been a man who was taking care of his cat during his trip. "There was someone coming in periodically to take care of the cat, or feed the cat," police spokesman Sgt. Steve Mannina said Tuesday.

Mannina said investigators were treating the case as a "suspicious death," meaning they did not have enough information to conclude whether the man was killed by someone.

Cops careful, reporter careful. Doesn't get any better than that.

Somebody interview the cat.

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