Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Going Local: Pedophiles, Gang Slashings, and Occasional Religious Intolerance

I’ve never been much for the Metro sections of the big daily newspapers, much less exclusively local print outlets. Over the last few months, however, I’ve come to appreciate the innocent charms of my local morning tabloid, the Northern Virginia Journal. This morning’s front page headlines included the arrest of a 62-year old sex offender caught sneaking into a private club’s swim meet, the confession to malicious wounding of a 17-year old "machete-toting" gang member, and news that a local school for the children of Saudi Arabian diplomats were being taught that all religions other than Islam are "false religions."

The global-clash-of-civilizations implications of the last item is very much an exception to an otherwise precise focus on the close to home. Oddly enough though, because most of its readers are suburbanites who commute to jobs in the District of Columbia, even the short bits of national and international news often seem like hometown stories. News of the increased terror alerts in D.C., New York, and Newark? As it turns out, the paper box from which I picked up my copy of today’s Journal was being looked over by a submachine gun wielding police officer just this morning. The aftermath of Abu Ghraib and its influence on the future of Pentagon policy? Half the people reading the story this morning probably passed through the Pentagon subway (Metro) stop on their way to work.

Even with the scanty, 300-word national and international wire stories, though, the Journal never disappoints in giving heart-warmingly tedious, violently alarming, and inexplicably detailed block by block reportage. For example, 78 local bus drivers were recently honored for having each driven more than 1 million miles while maintaining safe driving records; there’s no mention of a reception with cake and fruit punch, but the image doesn’t take much imagnation. Next is the story of Alejandro Coroy, 36, charged with forcibly entering his sister-in-law’s home, standing over her bed, and stabbing her repeatedly as she slept next to her husband. The motive is described as "family-related." And don’t forget to honor the fifteen years Sharon E. Pandak spent as Prince Willaim County attorney. She’s a member of the Virginia, District of Columbia, and U.S. Supreme Court bars, and no doubt spent many a long day over the past decade and a half observing the court progress of the parade of unfit mothers, attempted rapists, and gang members that the Journal reports on daily.

One last note on the local crime scene from today’s paper. Everyone love tales of stupid crooks and their boneheaded capers, and as always, the Journal does not falter. Page three carries the story of two sixteen-year old boys, arrested after throwing (or, in staff writer Andrea Pricer’s much hipper word,"hucking") rocks at not one but two police cars on succeeding nights. These kids stayed up all night to hurl rocks at easily identifiable police cruisers. May the long, sultry nights of summer vacation in Northern Virginia never end.


No comments: