I swear this will be my last rant about pet psychics. For today.
When I saw the headline, “City puts the bite on pet psychic,” I was way too optimistic. I actually got a little giddy, thinking that this little New England paper accomplished what the San Francisco Gate could not: an actual news report about a scam artist getting busted. I was ready to overlook the fact that “puts the bite on” is not a commonly used phrase that would make sense — after all, the journalist doesn’t usually come up with the stupid, godawful punny headlines. I was intrigued to find out what the psychic had done to get “the bite” from the city and eagerly clicked the link.
Willow, a pet psychic, recently lost her paw-reading position at Penelope’s Pet Boutique on Washington Street.
It starts off well, doesn’t it? The first sentence, taken in context with the headline, tells us that a supposed pet psychic has been ordered by the City to stop giving readings. This immediately made me happy, and I wanted to know more. Like, what caused this? Are no psychics allowed to operate in the City? Was she not paying taxes? Did a customer complain?
And then we arrive at the second sentence. I’ll print it here along with the first sentence, so you can get an idea of the jarring juxtaposition.
Willow, a pet psychic, recently lost her paw-reading position at Penelope’s Pet Boutique on Washington Street. The Tennessee native, who read Tarot cards for the shop Fools’ Mansion for nearly a decade, says she is also skilled at tapping into animals’ thoughts and feelings.
Now normally when writing a news article, the second sentence provides information that logically follows the first sentence. It doesn’t usually serve as an ADVERTISEMENT for the SERVICES of the INDIVIDUAL BREAKING THE LAW in the first sentence. Buried within the article is the information that she was operating without a license, which may make one wonder about the criteria for obtaining a pet psychic license. This and other relevant questions will have to wait, though, because the bulk of this column is spent describing the bogus psychic’s “colorful personality,” her satisfied customers, and her other business schemes that have yet to be shut down by the City.
I like this new approach to writing news stories about lawbreakers, and I’d like to see it applied across the board at the Norwich Bulletin. For example, remember the former CEO of Tyco, L. Dennis Kozlowski? His article might be something like this:
L. Dennis Kozlowski was arrested yesterday for embezzling $600 million from his company, Tyco. Kozlowski, whose company sells adorable toys like Tickle-Me-Elmo, is also an accomplished bowler, playing in a league where his team is currently ranked third.
I can think of plenty more examples that would show how much better newspapers would be if criminals were treated in this fashion. If you’d like, go on and try your hand at being a “journalist” in the comments! It’s fun! Norwich Bulletin, are you hiring?