The Sun-Sentinel today took the extraordinary step of soliciting those directly connected to the national horror of the September 11 attacks. The bottom Digest item on today's page 3B is headlined "Call us."
Where were you on Sept 11, 2001?
We are looking for local residents with a direct connection to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Flight 93.
Did you lose a loved one? Were you in the towers? Were you part of the rescue effort? Were you or your son or daughter part of the subsequent military invasion of Afghanistan? If you're a resident of Broward or Palm Beach counties, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 561-243-6635 or 954-356-4537.
Did I see that right? Did it actually say, "Did you lose a loved one?"
How is that for a brazen, shameless, exploitative, insensitive, carnival-barking approach to journalism? It's most reminiscent of the commercials of those ambulance-chasing attorneys asking if you've been injured in a car wreck.
Still, it's an undeniably interesting approach to reporting. Don't call them, have them call you. It could be expanded to all manner of stories.
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"Deputies, as you know the sheriff is under investigation. Do you have any information you've been withholding from federal agents? Do you have dirt on your boss? Call the newsroom now!"
"Has your life recently been destroyed by the foreclosure of your home mortgage? Call the Sentinel today -- or, if you can no longer afford a phone, just drop by!"
"Was your drug dealing son shot in Miami last night? Ring us up now!"
The possibilities are endless.