Mad River Union
ARCATA, APRIL 1 – A lapse in journalistic standards has engulfed NoHum’s weekly newspaper in scandal.
The matter came to light when the Union published photos of 2nd graders from Mrs. Toynbee’s class at McKinleyville Elementary school who won the class’s annual Easter Egg Decorating Contest.
In a shocking revelation, it turned out that the photographer, Union staffmember Nelda Venkmann, has a granddaughter in the class.
Worse, during a classroom visit, Venkmann could have influenced the outcome of the contest by remarking, “That’s pretty,” about an egg a boy had decorated with glitter glue.
While Venkmann’s grandchild, Tessie, didn’t participate in the contest, and the egg her grandmother had remarked about didn’t win, the reckless compliment could be perceived as a possible attempt to manipulate the outcome of the contest and manufacture news.
“We’re shocked and disappointed,” said Union Editor Jack Durham. “Nelda should have known better.”
While he couldn’t comment on personnel matters, Durham said that Venkmann is no longer with the newspaper. All of her work has been expunged from the Union’s website while an investigation into other potential lapses proceeds.
Another series of lengthy, self-flagellating mea culpa columns are in the works, in which the Union will admit the error, take ownership of it and detail the steps it is taking to prevent a recurrence.
The scandal has hit the paper hard, with scores of readers cancelling their subscriptions. Angry notes slipped under the newspaper’s door have included copies of the damning photo cut out from the newspaper, some with “FAKE NEWS!” scrawled across it.
On learning of the controversy, activist Fhyre Phoenix immediately set up a protest outside Jacoby’s Storehouse, waving a placard that exclaimed, “Scramble the eggs of corruption!”
The scandal even rattled City Hall, where several citizens excoriated the council during Oral Communications at last week’s meeting.
“The City Council has failed to set the proper ethical tone, and that’s what made this kind of atrocity possible,” raged citizen Splenda Splenard. “All of you must resign immediately!”
Pereira later said that after considerable thought, she intended to soldier on in office, with improved focus on moral leadership in all matters related to hard-boiled eggs.