GEE. WOULDN'T IT BE NICE if my hometown of Kalamazoo, Mich., was actually in the news because something good happened there?
Yeah, yeah. I know. Too much to ask, apparently. Dig this story from Editor and Publisher magazine:
When reporter Craig McCool and photographer Mairin Chapman of The Kalamazoo Gazette went to a local party to research a series on drinking among young adults, they saw nothing wrong with partaking of the libations themselves.
But editors did. The result: The two were dismissed, and the paper ran an editor's note this weekend explaining the incident.
"Their conduct is unacceptable and violates the standards that we uphold every day as journalists," Editor Rebecca Pierce said in the note, published Saturday. "We don't condone it and we can't ignore it."
Pierce, who could not be reached for comment Monday, seemed to indicate that the pair's transgression took on more severity because it involved their reporting on how heavy alcohol consumption can be dangerous. "It's a sad statement to our readers that our behavior in any way would obscure this serious and pervasive problem in our community," the editor added in the note.
Well, it certainly wasn't bright for these two to go out and drink while on assignment. Jesus. When you're working, you stick to water or diet soda. There's no reason at all why these two couldn't have asked for water or some Diet Vernors*, both of which should have been easily obtained even if they were out on North Pitcher Street at 3 a.m. But they have been cashiered and that is that.
As a former Kalamazoo resident, though, I have to ask: why the big focus on Demon Rum? There were a few more pressing problems last time I checked, but maybe Kalamazoo's leaders have cleaned up all the drug trafficking and violent crime, fixed the roads, attracted bunches of new employers and while they were at it, got a bunch of decent restaurants**.
Somehow I doubt this.
After all, we are discussing Kalamazoo, Michigan -- a fourth-rate, crime-ridden Rust Belt city, the type of place where people move because there's work, and only because there's work.
Not that there's much work to be had, of course. For at 8.2 pc, Kalamazoo's unemployment rate is almost European in scale. Its crime rate is so stunningly high that it makes New York look calm in comparison. And if you really want proof about how bad it is, go check out my old high school's Web site.
Yeah. Hoo boy.
* Note to New England readers: "Vernors" is Michigan's version of "Moxie." It is known for its "distinct" (read: undescribable) flavor, which is so distinct that things are said to taste like Vernors instead of vice versa.
** Actually, it's been ten years since I've been back, so maybe ol' K'zoo DID manage to get a bunch of decent restaurants over the years, even though it lost population. Then again, maybe it didn't manage. But there's a silver lining to every cloud -- for Theo & Stacy's is still open!Posted by Benjamin Kepple at April 25, 2005 10:29 PM | TrackBack