In what may be the most honest piece of news reporting in recent history, a small newspaper in Saskatchewan announced on its front page yesterday that nothing much of interest had happened in the previous week.
The Battlefords News-Optimist is a weekly community paper published out of North Battleford, Sask. Apparently things have been pretty quiet lately in that neck of the woods, because the lead paragraph for the paper’s front page story opened with, “To be truthful, there isn’t really anything happening in the news this week.”
It would seem a rather self-defeating way to win readers, but the piece continues:
“Not that it isn’t worth pickup up the paper, there are some interesting items inside. But, it’s January, the weather has taken a nasty turn and there just isn’t much happening.”
Of course, it’s not like nothing happened:
“The Ninth Battleford Fire Department did see some action on the weekend, attending a dumpster fire and a couple of false alarms. Not really very exciting, but that news item does make one wonder about the mentality of someone torching a dumpster in sub-Arctic weather. One could surmise they did it for the warmth, but when a dumpster is set ablaze it probably isn’t a great idea to hang around to roast marshmallows.”
It’s a humourous take on the craft of journalism, and one that caught the attention of Battleford local Rylee Ann Schuhmacher, who tweeted the following:
So the News Optimist today opens with “to be truthful, there isn’t really anything happening in the news this week.” pic.twitter.com/7dCjnm1ncE
— Rylee (@_Rylee_) January 19, 2016
News-Optimist editor Becky Doig stands by her article.
“Really, it’s the middle of January,” Doig told BuzzFeed Canada. “Everybody in the news business knows there’s nothing going on.”
There is actually a precedent for this type of “no news” reporting.
On the morning of April 18, 1930, a BBC radio presenter announced, “Good evening. Today is Good Friday. There is no news.” The sobering announcement was followed by piano music.
Sometimes in journalism, as in life, honesty is the best policy.