Daily journalism is tough. Reporters face time constraints, space limitations and competing demands.
Here in the easy world of Monday (or Friday) morning media-critique-quarterbacking, it's easy to forget those realities.
Still -- while acknowledging all of the above -- a news story in today's Tulsa World frustrated me:
What irritated me about this story? Mainly, how little information the World gave me.
This is the lede:
For the first time, Oklahoma Muslims will have a float in the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Tulsa on Nov. 11, and not all parade participants are happy about it.
How many parade participants are not happy about it?
Just one, it appears based on the story:
Larry Williamson, a member of the Tulsa 912 Project, a conservative organization, said it is “atrocious” to ask veterans to “march alongside people who represent our enemies in a current war.”
How many total parade participants are there? The story doesn't say.
What do other parade participants think about the planned float by the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations? The story doesn't say.
What exactly is the Tulsa 912 Project (besides being "a conservative organization")? Believe it or not, the story never pauses to tell readers about that, either.
Some of what the story does say:
“I’m not a spokesman for Tulsa 912, but I won’t march alongside the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.
Asked why he uses the term Muslim Brotherhood instead of CAIR, Williamson said the FBI has identified CAIR as an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. CAIR has consistently stated that it has no connections with any terrorist groups.
What is the Muslim Brotherhood? Once again, the story doesn't say. (The Associated Press Stylebook describes it as a "Pan-Arab Islamist political movement.")
Has the FBI actually identified CAIR as an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America? And in what context? The story doesn't say. You can see the pattern here?
More from the story:
Patsy Varnell, vice president of the Tulsa Veterans Day Parade Association, confirmed that CAIR-Oklahoma’s application to be in the parade has been accepted.
“The parade is nonreligious,” she said.
“We feel that we are exercising the rights established by the Constitution of freedom of speech, and this group has the right to participate. We do not want any problems, but we have to be fair to everybody,” Varnell said.
What does it mean that the "parade is nonreligious?" Do other religious groups have floats? If so, which ones? The story doesn't say.
Again, I understand -- really, I do -- the difference between a daily news report and an in-depth investigative piece.
At the same time, expecting a major daily to answer a few obvious questions doesn't seem like too much to ask. Does it?