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Cory Farley, voted "Best of Reno" 26 times in 27 years by readers of his column in the Reno Gazette-Journal, takes an unconventional look at topics from presidential elections to the best way to cook Brussels sprouts.

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Location: Verdi, Nev, United States

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Whatever happened to checking the facts?

You may have read, on a Reno-based Web site I won't name (its initials are rgj), of a program to cheer up wounded soldiers by sending them a note or letter.
"Some of these fine men and women have been severely wounded," the brief said in what sounds like a slightly rephrased news release. "(They) will live the remainder of their lives without arms, legs, feet and/or hands. Some have lost their hearing or have been blinded . . . ."
Absolutely true. As a medic in another war, I saw hundreds of soldiers and civilians like that. I remember many of them clearly four decades later; that's one reason I wonder sometimes if war is really a good idea.
"By sending them a gift and a note or letter," the story goes on, "we let them know that we have not forgotten them and that we are grateful for their tremendous sacrifices." It lists--accurately, I'm sure--several gift suggestions: Candy and treats, telephone cards and "current release DVDs." I'd add bottled salsa to that--military food is famously bland, and I used to love getting spicy stuff in my CARE packages from home. There's an address for "Any Recovering Soldier" that supposedly will get the packages in the vicinity of the intended recipients, where they'll be distributed.
What's not to like about this idea? Support the war or oppose it, those are somebody's babies lying among the scampering rodents in those neglected, Bush-strangled VA hospitals.
The chance of any wounded soldier actually receiving one of these gifts, though, apparently is zero. Snopes.com, among many other sources, notes:
"The U.S.Postal Service will not accept mail to 'Any Soldier' or 'Any Wounded Soldier' or the like because . . . it could be providing a conduit for those who might do harm to services members. Such offerings are either returned to the sender . . . or donated to charities. Similarly, military hospitals will not accept letters, cards or packages addressed in such manner."
Walter Reed Army Medical Centers confirmed the information in an official statement, citing a 2001 decision by the Department of Defense. If you want to help the troops, it said, "please consider making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops." You can find a list at www.americasupportsyou.mil.

10 Comments:

Blogger Pogonip said...

*Aaarrrghh* Not the first time, nor the last that this or any other news org you can think of made a silly error.

Whether you support this war thing, or not, we need to support the people who have gone across the Big Water and come back with less than they took. Cutting medical and support benefits is really un-American. It's downright inhuman. They are mostly kids, and they return with physical, mental and emotional wounds that prematurely age them. The least we can do is give them treatment and support through it.

12:43 PM  
Blogger tuzoner said...

Fact checking is so 20th century.

Most folks working in newsrooms today can't even balance their checkbooks much less know of a business publication called The Wall Street Journal.

Were you expecting something different from a regurgitate story plucked from the AP news wire service for distribution within the McNews empire?

I mean where is your sense of humanity?

Have you no shame in critizing the highly respected RGJ?

*grin*

As for the troops, I hope they all return safely someday. I suspect though that we will require some form of presence in Iraq for at least the next 30 years or so.

Won't make one wit of difference whether the troop surge is working or not - that's a short-term military maneuver with no long-term political effect.

6:15 PM  
Blogger slamduncan said...

Your column was one of the very few reasons I subscribed to the rgj. Now that the senior writers and editors have been "bought out", do the owners expect the quality to improve and subscriptions to rise? Hah!Your current blog entry is perfect illustration of what will become of the rag. Farewell to another mediocre daily.

I don't blame you a bit for taking the "deal". You won't regret it. I was offered a similiar buy out several years ago and, although I was not ready to go and it was handled badly, I am not sorry now.

The best way to support our troops is to bring them home.

6:30 PM  
Blogger ReconRanger said...

Cory,

You missed the punch line on this one. The story was actually a letter to the editor that appeared on the web site as well as in the print edition.

Reading the letter, it smacks of an email that always ends with the dreaded sentence "Send this to everyone you know."

Some ditz received the spam, didn't check it out, warped it as an original letter to the editor and the RGJ whiz-kids published the spew in the community's "newpaper of record."

Sweet!

There was a day when that kind of carelessness - no, it's not a "reckless disregard of the truth" yet - would result in an editorial vowing to re-establish credibility and an editor typing bowling results for awhile.

How much do you want to bet that the RGJ, should they even become aware of the blunder, would choose to have their readers launch packages that will bounce rather than admit they published BS?

If Edward R. Murrow was alive today, he'd be rolling in his grave.

9:10 PM  
Blogger angelosdaughter said...

The RGJ has so many ludicrous mistakes in both its headlines and its copy that I have to believe no one proofs it. Isn't the editor responsible for overseeing the quality of writing that gets into print? It's not just grammatical errors, although there are plenty of those, but sometimes the headline or article doesn't even make sense.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Ann O. said...

I'm pretty sure the RGJ's main qualification for the position of copy editor is the ability to use its design software.

Ann
http://blog.annonn.com

9:46 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Pecksniff said...

Wow, you really stuck it to them, Cory. Good job. Some lady in Fallon thinks she's doing a good deed by sending this as a letter to the editor. What a rube. Then a couple of editorial editors let it get past them -- they deserve to type in bowling scores for that one, don't you think?
I see your claim that you weren't going to use the blog to trash the 'Gazette Urinal' lasted all of four days. Well, it's easy pickings. There will be no shortage of typos, hastily written and edited stories and bad headlines to give you fodder. Unfortunately, your slams are felt hardest by the working class, not the folks in the marbled halls of Reston, Va.
C'est la guerre.
(Still miss you, though, you sumbitch.)

12:41 PM  
Blogger sabjoro said...

Hello, Mr. C.,

Great site.

Have you seen the comic strip Prickly City for this week (Dec 3,4,5)? You might enjoy the storyline.

6:41 PM  
Blogger nopastels said...

I love the daily blog, now I can enjoy your writings daily. What a treat, thanks.

LouiseS

3:33 PM  
Blogger faacks said...

this is all i can afford this Christmas Cory.
a simple word of appreciation that you moved to a venue where you may speak freely

12:56 PM  

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