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The story’s all in the telling

What’s worse than a pair of high-testosterone lawyers trash-talking at each other over minutiae at a deposition?

That’s bad, for sure. A pair of college professors sniping at each other at a department meeting? (Someone once said the politics in academia were so nasty because the stakes were so low).

That’s bad, too. How about one newspaper’s response when it gets to write smack about another newspaper, especially the other paper’s editors?

Just as bad. It happened this week. Guy who is the local news editor of the Brockton (Mass.) Enterprise was pulled over by cops last Saturday with a blood alcohol content of 0.3 percent, and charged with his third DUI. A bad situation, made worse over the fact that the cops say they found an open bottle of vodka in a bag in the car. Oh, and the guy’s son, age 6, was in the back seat.

All of this was reported on the Web site of a sister paper, The Patriot Ledger, rather matter-of-factly on Monday. They identified the guy’s employer in the third paragraph. The headline: “Police: Man driving with child in car was drunk.”

The Enterprise posted the Patriot Ledger’s story on its own Web site Tuesday.

Enter the rival. The Boston Herald gets hold of the story (I’m guessing they have someone who scans the sites of competitor papers) and in a piece published Tuesday, blares the headline, “Brockton editor bagged with booze, kid in car.”

The Herald probably had their best wordsmiths working on this lead:

“With his 6-year-old son munching a burger in the back seat and a half-empty liter of cheap vodka riding shotgun up front, a Brockton Enterprise editor allegedly wasted behind the wheel didn’t even know what town he was in, police said.”

They should have used purple ink. The image of a bottle of vodka (note it was “cheap”) “riding shotgun” is pretty evocative. And I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen “allegedly wasted” used in a news story before.

One wonders what the Brockton Enterprise will do when/if it gets the chance to return the favor to the Herald.

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