The News Buries the Lede in the Komen Story

Categories: Schutze

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Just want to make sure you know what you're getting into if you count on The Dallas Morning News to tell you what's up. It's not that they won't. But you do have to deal with the social local filter.

The New York Times this morning carries a story by Times staffer Natasha Singer under a headline, "Calls Grow for Leader of Komen to Step Down." Oh my gosh. That's our Nancy Brinker. She is a very focal social local.

You know the back story. The Komen Foundation, Brinker's breast cancer advocacy group, outraged women nationally recently by going on the muscle against Planned Parenthood over abortion rights.

Brinker, widow of Dallas franchise king Norm Brinker, tried to make the mess go away by calling off her group's vendetta against Planned Parenthood, but apparently a simple ceasefire failed to do the trick. People are still mad. Nobody wants to run in the Komen pink-ribbon races, and today's Times story says two more top executives have bailed.

But the part of the story we call "the lede" in newspapering (an old printer's term) was the call for Brinker herself to go. That was the news. Not the bailing employees.

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Nancy Brinker
It was the headline in Singer's story, and it was the first sentence: "Calls for the resignation of Nancy G. Brinker, the founder and chief executive of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the breast cancer charity, grew Wednesday amid news that a second high-profile executive was leaving the group."

Two Komen executives quit? Ehh. Not really a story. People want Brinker out? Yup, that's a story.

But this same story, credited to The New York Times and to Natasha Singer, ran inside this morning's print version of The Dallas Morning News, without the story. Sort of. The News ran it, but they put it under a quite different headline with a totally different lede. Their headline was "Komen Losing 2 Executives in Wake of Decisions."

If you read all the way down through six long paragraphs, you will find one brief paragraph that says, "More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition" calling for Brinker to go.

Now, if you're like me and you have been a loyal reader of The Dallas Morning News all these many years -- because you sort of have to be -- then you know how to deal with the social local filter. It's sort of a process.

You see the name, "Komen," over a story. Right away, that's a focal social local story, so you know in advance that it will be upside down and written in funny ink. It's what I call a Morning News not-a-story-story. It's only in there because they know it's going to be published elsewhere. But it's damage control.

For your part, your job is to hold your nose shut and dive in through the bilge, at least halfway down, probably two-thirds toward the bottom. There you will find what it is they don't want you to find. You are looking for the least little drive-by breezy dry-facts mention of a tidbit tossed in toward the bottom like a half-eaten doughnut in a trashcan.

That is a Dallas Morning News lede.

Now place, please, your index finger on The Morning News not-a-lede-lede. You don't want to lose it and have to go through all that bilge diving again. Proceed to the Internet. Google, "more than 1,000 sign petition calling for Brinker to resign."

Aha! There it is: New York Times, Seattle Times, Facebook, Huff Post, they've all got it. See. If you want to know what's happening in Dallas, ask somebody in Seattle.

To be fair, The Morning News did come back this morning at 7:40 with their own online piece under the byline of a Morning News staffer, Christina Rosales, in which the call for Brinker to resign has been bumped up to the second paragraph. But the headline is still a no-news-here-really announcement that, "Several Komen Officials Step Down After Planned Parenthood Controversy."

That would fall under the journalistic rubric: So what else is new? That's been going on for weeks. We know they've been resigning like flies. So what?

When I read a headline like that, I always imagine the cop outside the scene of a shootout telling people, "Nothin' here to see folks, let's keep it movin', y'all need to return to your homes."

Sort of the opposite of the old, "THIS JUST IN!!!" You know, when you actually want people to read the story?

The online version goes to a younger audience, of course -- people who can take it, I guess. The whole arrangement -- not-a-story-story in print, semi-not-a-story online -- safely spares those people in the demographic known in the business as "the golden oldies" from what the News obviously thinks is more truth than they can handle. Or more truth than Nancy Brinker can handle.

So, anyway, the good news is that we have now successfully spelunked our way through a Dallas Morning News story filter. Next time we should know how to do it. 1) Red-flag for social local. 2) Hold nose and dive. 3) Find irrelevant tidbit. 4) Google.

The question will remain, why bother? To that, I have no answer.

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44 comments
Chris
Chris

Nancy Brinker is finally doing now what she should have done prior to letting that predatory parasite Cecile Richards attach itself to her, restructuring Komen and rebuilding it on funding sources that won't be able to blackmail it the way PP did. Contributors are always potentially as much liabilities as they are assets, and the bigger they are the more so. If Brinker is successful with her reboot, contributor blackmail will be a thing of the past. You'll still be able to whine and gossip, of course, although pointlessly.

The Derelict
The Derelict

assholes like Tom Hicks get the same kind of treatment from the DMN as well.  Every now and then (once a year) there will be an article about how great he is and how smart he is and how he is soon to be back on top again.  f off DMN, don't need your propaganda.

Newspaper subscriber freak
Newspaper subscriber freak

There was a NY Times article totally changed in the same way by the Dallas Morning News regarding Dallasite T. Boone Pickens and the swift boat ads he helped fund.  The original (factual) article in NY Times was less favorable to Pickens, while the DMN article lessened what PIckens did, but used the byline of the NYT reporter.  I contacted the reporter to let her know her name was being run with a different story than the one she originally reported!  I assume she confronted DMN. 

mybolognahasathirdname
mybolognahasathirdname

Jim, I think you just made another post for the FrontBurner bloggers. Tim Rogers is probably typing away as we speak.

NealK
NealK

It's so funny how Cecile Richards, Nancy Brinker, journalists like Andrea Mitchell, and all their colleagues and surrogates are circling around each other like angry ferrets getting in the occasional hiss and swipe while filling in the gaps with episodes of underminey passive-agressiveness.  They are fulfilling every stereotype of how professional women treat each other. 

See, e.g., realtors and downtown law firms.

Anon
Anon

To me the more relevant question is - if she wasn't the founder of this charity and sister to its namesake, would she still be there? The whole basis of high CEO compensation is that they bring unique talent to the post and theoretically are responsible for an organization's ultimate success or failure. She presided over the charity's largest hit to goodwill that it spent years and millions to build up. Why isn't she gone?

jnw32
jnw32

Ah, Jim.  I think you have missed the point rather badly.  The point is that if you are a conservative and get crosswise with a liberal bugaboo, i.e. Planned Parenthood, then liberals will go after you tooth and nail.  It doesn't matter if you backtrack, they will still go after you and try to ruin you, and The NY Times is all to happy to help out.  The point of the article is to caution other conservatives against trying to do something similar. 

Cp
Cp

If you've got the name of an influential person who calls for the head of NB, then that's a lede.  Generic "calls" from the ether aren't worth the weeds on the lawn from which you want me to remove myself.

Montemalone
Montemalone

But at least Decherd and Mong are getting 25% raises. A reward for not only knowing how to bury the lede, but also to lose humdreds of millions of dollars a year.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I think the lede should be the % of money that actually goes to productive use, how much goes to executives and how much to marketing.  That's simply scandalous.

Edward
Edward

I have to disagree that 1,000 people calling for Komen to quit should be the headline.

As others have said, you can get 1,000 people together to call for anything.

If either of the two executives were calling for her to resign, or other current or former executives, or major donors, then THAT would be newsworthy.

Tylerslawson_90
Tylerslawson_90

I don't wish to comment on the NYT article being covered (I do have my views), but do wish to comment on the way the writer discusses the DMN. I think it's great that the DMN tries to support the local community. I think it helps unite us as one community. The National media at large divides the country. I never noticed the above aspects of DMN reporting, but I applaud them for being supportive of locals.

Grumpydemo
Grumpydemo

Good article, but?

"Brinker, widow of Dallas franchise king Norm Brinker,..."

She was divorced from Brinker before he died.

Jeez, Wilonsky leaves and it's all down hill.

Oh, and Schuz sux!

Diplomom08
Diplomom08

Everyone should be angry.  Komen has failed us all.  I would love to see their doors shuttered for good.  Other organizations are out there doing good.  Komen is just wasting our time and money. 

http://dinoiafamily.typepad.co...

Now I Get It!
Now I Get It!

News?  1,000 names is small beans on a petition for an org the size of Susan G. Komen.  Heck, I bet we could get 1,000 names of people who would want you to leave the Observer Jim ;)

I'm not a fan of either Komen or Planned Parenthood, given the way they spend their money.  I also think 600K is small beans for both of these orgs.  They were both just politicking, which is a shame for all those they pretend to serve.

NewsDog
NewsDog

KRLD must use the same filter. When I heard this story on the way into work it just mentioned the out of town execs bailing. Nothing about Nancy.

I have a friend who is running in the 5K with his wife but he doesn't think it will take very long because of the depleted crowd.

Ed D.
Ed D.

All that Kremlinology I studied back in my college poli-sci classes is finally paying of.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

I still think the main story about SGK and Planned Parenthood was exposing the idea that SGK is  a clearing house for other peoples donated cash .

ts
ts

Charities, clearly, have a liberal bias.

Graham
Graham

Bullcrap. All it means is that actions have consequences, and badly thought out actions have bad consequences. Komen decided to defund Planned Parenthood without any explanation or rationale that made any sense, they had no plan for dealing with the PR fallout, Planned Parenthood did nothing except express disappointment. I donated to Planned Parenthood in protest against the clear reality that Komen had no damn clue that for many people, this kind of program is and should be above politics. They made the fatal error of being seen to politicize funding decisions. Everything that has happened since shows me that Nancy Brinker is in denial about what happened, and still has no clue about how to repair the damage. The staff departures are the best testimony to the loss of leadership credibility. 

Georgeous_lacey
Georgeous_lacey

No fan of theirs, especially lately, but...According to Charity Navigator over 82% goes to program (productive) costs, which is considered pretty respectable in the non-profit world. The larger debate was how much of the programming is direct service (i.e. health screening), how much is given to research, and how much is spent on education and awareness. Many feel that they are doing too little of the first two, and too much of the last - but that's not a matter of money mangement, thats a question of mission priority.

Glenn
Glenn

You're right that 1,000 names nationally is a drop in the bucket, hardly worthy of a screaming headline or "lede." But if you're out to shred Brinker, Komen, and the DMN, it's obviously enough to base a column on.

cp
cp

Did you just get here to Dallas? 

Tiki
Tiki

It's not the job of a newspaper to be a community supporter and uniter.

Guest
Guest

Stop Googling yourself and start writing your resignation, Nancy. You're a hateful bitch.

JimS
JimS

I don't want to be one community with you.

NewsDog
NewsDog

I didn't know they were divorced. Never heard a thing about it in the local news.

Maybe that's why she has to give herself a 400 K slary to head a charitable fundraising org. .  

JimS
JimS

Good catch. You're right: Robert wouldn't have missed it. That's why we miss him.

Achin For Some Bacon
Achin For Some Bacon

No kidding. The two Komen events I've participated in have been more along the lines of synchronized shuffling rather than a real walk or 5k because of the sheer density of people.

My spot there will definitely be open this year. There are plenty of other less political, less bloated charities who can use my money instead.

Beda
Beda

She is not Norm Brinker's widow.  They were divorced at the time he died.

Ket354
Ket354

That is what will end up hurting them most in the long run.

Secondary will be the bad taste for how Komen went about it in a very deceitful way.

The dissing PP is really tertiary in this part of the country.

jnw32
jnw32

 Graham, thanks for proving my point.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 Education and awareness is marketing.  That is a vague term, and those monies are much more easily misused and misnamed.

iamronburgundy
iamronburgundy

 THANK YOU!!!!! This is exactly what I was going to write. Except (and I still can't find the article) I read a piece right around the time the PP debacle went down where an SGK spokesman was defending the withdrawal of the money from Planned Parenthood and then got into an argument with the journalist and defended SGK's financial allocations by saying something like "Pssshaww we don't give 18% to research, last year alone our percentage was 21%!" (I added the psshaww for dramatic affect). Talk about burying the lede..... Actually standing up and DEFENDING such a poor allocation of money!?!?!?!?

What a pittance compared the MASSIVE marketing budget that they outline specifically dollars and cents in the financial PDF's available on their website. Not to mention the huge legal dollars they spend every single year suing the pants off of anyone who uses a pink ribbon, pink bow, pink anything as a brand representation for their charity - google that and it will give you shudders the stories that you find. Everyone should give their money to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) - the percentage they give to finding a cure (what SGK rallies everyone with at the 3 Day walks, ugh) is somewhere around 80% of all donations.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Is that Wilonsky, shilling for his new masters??

RTGolden
RTGolden

It's comparable to the $400K salary the head of Planned Parenthood makes; as long as we're throwing irrelevant tidbits into the mix.

Bob
Bob

So, are you gonna take some of your Backpage.com pimp profits and buy a replacement editor?

Cujo
Cujo

 My wife has had breast cancer and refuses to support the SGK and instead supports and donates to the BCRF. In the last few months I have seen how right she is.

I really have no idea why Ms. Brinker has the qualifications to make such a decision, it's bloody obvious that she cannot figure out the repercussions. 400K a year for her? For what? This is why I donate directly to smaller charities myself and skip organizations like United Way, too many people with bloated salaries are grabbing money I intend to held the *needy*.

RTGolden
RTGolden

exactly.  making a stink about what Brinker draws as a 'salary' in order to demonize her is disingenuous unless you make a stink about Non-profit CEO pay across the board.

cp
cp

As well as many others. United Way much? 

Bob
Bob

According to Nicholas Kristof, of The New York Times,  "Backpage accounts for about 70 percent of prostitution advertising among five websites that carry such ads in the United States, earning more than $22 million annually from prostitution ads, according to AIM Group, a media research and consulting company. It is now the premier website for human trafficking in the United States, according to the National Association of Attorneys General. And it’s not a fly-by-night operation. Backpage is owned by Village Voice Media, which also owns the estimable Village Voice newspaper and many other publications (including the Dallas Observer)."

In my view, making $22 million profit from prostitution ads  makes Backpage a pimp.  And since the DO's parent (VVM) owns Backpage, and since Backpage actuallys runs on the back page of the DO, I connect the dots.

iamronburgundy
iamronburgundy

 I'm hoping that this is an inside joke between you and Jim. Otherwise, you have some explaining to do here.....

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