This past weekend, I threw a book signing party that even J.K. Rowling would have been impressed with. Almost 800 people filled an overheated gymnasium in Monroe, WI (where I grew up) to celebrate the release of my first book, "Why Does Grandma Have a Wibble?" Long lines waiting for autographs, hundreds of children running here and there, and books flying off the shelf...it was the perfect day. And to show my appreciation to the "little authors" who contributed to my book, I asked each of them to join me in signing books. With pens in hand and name badge stickers announcing their success, they wandered around signing books and collecting their own autographs. For a couple short hours, these students (more than 175 of them) were enjoying a moment that might not ever come again.
Sounds like a great news story, right? Wouldn't this be a nice ending to the nightly television news that only covered the war, two traffic deaths, a campus drug bust and a missing plane full of skydivers? One would think so. And what about local newspaper coverage? Maybe that's the easier one. Just how busy does a local newspaper with a pretty average circulation need to be to miss covering this event? Let me tell you.
It was a busy day in Monroe...I understand that...but it's sad that an annual chili cook-off was the big news. What's even sadder is the photo that made the front page of the newspaper from this chili cook-off. It wasn't a photo of a pot of chili....heck, it wasn't even of the chili-maker himself. It was a photo of a little girl throwing darts at a life-size photo of Michael Vick. I guess there are other smaller fund raisers at this "chili party", and the Humane Society thought it would be fun to raise some money by using Michael Vick's recent run-in with dogs and the law as the basis for claiming a little cash. First, it was in poor taste...but that's another day's worth of ramblings. Second, and more importantly, it was the feature photo on the front page. A kid...throwing darts...at a photo of a person. And where were the kids who had actually done something successful? They were stuffed in a 90-degree gymnasium waiting for a photographer to show up to give them a little publicity.
Oh, she did show up...and she did take the photos....but that was it. And the kids...well, one of them...got a photo in the paper....on the back page. No write-up. No interviews. Nothing.
The reporter tells me they ran out of room and that it was the editor's decision to bury the 175 kids who were doing something worthwhile on the back page. Shame on you, Mr. Editor. You didn't get this one right. In a time where schools are struggling to make reading and writing an important part of our children's curriculum, you thought that dart-throwing was the bigger news story. SHAME ON YOU!