by Roger Pynn
I’ve always remembered advice about reporters using humor from my first journalism teacher Bill Cochenour. “First, be sure you know how to tell a joke before you try to write about something you think is funny. Second, be careful with humor because it is easy to hurt someone unintentionally.”
And here’s proof that he was right, first from the pages of LA Weekly, and second from all across the online world as a result of people thinking that a tongue-in-cheek item about Red Lobster was really news reporting.
Darden Restaurants, Red Lobster’s Orlando-based parent company, had its hands full responding to mushrooming media mentions spawned by the LA Weekly article. It is fair to say the restaurant chain was hurt unintentionally by the fallout from what was intended to be funny. Kudos to the editors of LA Weekly for this editor’s note to its online version of the story:
“The title of this piece has been changed since its initial publication to reflect greater accuracy. The post was also amended to make it clear that there are currently no plans to shutter Red Lobster restaurants in the SoCal area; we regret any suggestion to the contrary.”
Information moves at light speed these days. That includes mistakes.