Saturday, December 19, 2009

NOLA.com's Video Department strikes again

Posted By on Sat, Dec 19, 2009 at 12:11 PM

click to enlarge More NOLA.com WTF

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I'm not sure what it is about perfectly excellent journalists producing questionable online videos, but NOLA.com seems like a breeding ground for it. Last week (and many before that, actually), it was the otherwise-commendable David Hammer's Madden 10 highlights gracing the front page, and now we have Doug MacCash presenting us with Bill Harris a.k.a. "The Unknown Who Dat."

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The video, which runs just under two minutes, shows Harris arriving...well, somewhere. Close inspection reveals that it's Louis Armstrong airport, but the viewer not informed of this, nor why he or she should care that Harris is arriving. He shouts and people take pictures and he screams about the Saints and "waiting 43 years" for this and when it's all over we know nothing more than the name of a loud, incoherent Saints fan. Somehow, the news hook is lost on me.

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A news hook, for the uninitiated, is what makes a story compelling or worthy for publication. I first learned of this concept on, and this is no joke, the Nickelodeon program "Nick News W5". It simplified what all news should contain: a who, what, where, why, and when. Anyone who reads MacCash's pieces in the Times-Picayune can tell he has a mastery for answering those five basic questions in every story, many times in compelling ways. "The Unknown Who Dat", though, leaves many questions unanswered.

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Aside from his name, what do we know about him? Who is he? A Saints fan. OK, what makes him unique? He wears Saints apparel and waves a Saints blanket? Where is he coming? Where is he going now that he's here? When did he get here? When did he first leave? Most importantly: Who the hell cares?

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Perhaps these are all to be answered by a companion article in Saturday morning's paper. That'd be a clever device, though there's no mention of that anywhere. The only apparent companion article is the one that runs to the left of the video on NOLA.com's front page. The one about the old Miami Dolphins players not minding if the Colts or Saints have a perfect season (NOTE: Before I finished this post, the new lead article was this one about NFL Network and WGNO having extended pre-game broadcasts. No mention of the "Unknown Who Dat"). The one that has nothing to do with "The Unknown Who Dat" other than NOLA.com decided to run a picture of the man next to an article he has nothing to do with.

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Truly astounding journalism.

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