“Nobody moves, nobody whispers and nobody gets hurt,” she ordered to the cowering press corps that had unwittingly believed her ruse about touring the station.
Morons, the freshman lawmaker thought. These freaks will believe anything I say; now it’s time to drop the hammer.
“I want the $8 million you bastards allocated for this dump in unmarked, non-sequential bills,” she hissed, while simultaneously waving the tightly gripped pistol at a cowering television camera man who had inadvertently wet himself in the excitement. “And I want a Harrier jet out here in five minutes.”
It’s a shame this wasn’t the story line making it into the four daily newspapers that mundanely followed Gillibrand around like a flock of bleating sheep. Instead, readers across the county got this: the police station is fucked and the federal government can’t do anything about it other than arm the Saratoga cops to the teeth. Not that any of this comes as a surprise. In fact, the congresswoman’s visit to the dated Lake Avenue station is about the only surprise in the roughly 2,300 words written about the affair between the four daily newspapers that covered it.
Only moments after stepping into the station, Gillibrand proclaimed she could do very little for the situation in terms of “bricks and mortar” for a new building. But, she continued, there is hope for a new Saratoga Spring SWAT team vehicle, a batch of M-16 automatic assault rifles and a veritable cornucopia of devices needed to take down an “active shooter” situation; you know, the sort of situations that have plagued the city for centuries.
Scanning the resulting formulaic articles from this futile event is akin to pursuing several hundred copies of someone’s tax returns, only each in a different font and color. First, start off with a cliché, something catchy. Then move into the so-called meat: the police station is in bad condition. Finally, drop Gillibrand’s punch line: sorry guys, you’re shit out of luck because the fed is more interested in turning your police force into an urban military tactical squad.
At first blush, one can broadly castigate these reporters for producing such homogenous tripe. Case in point, The Daily Gazette, Post Star and Saratogian articles even contain about the same number of words: 750 plus or minus a few. The Times Union attempted to deliver a more unique message by jumbling in the congresswoman’s full tour of the area, even though it seemed kind of scattered in the end.
But the sad fact is there was an editor that put these writers up to this task, accentuating it with equally bland headlines: Gillibrand tours city’s police station, Tours show space is tight, and Gillibrand tours police station. That’s the way to attract readers and bolster circulation, give’em something good and bland.
Ignored were the more appropriate issues with the station, such as an actual physical description of the space at hand and the space needed. Or what kind of grants might be available for the so-called bricks-and-mortar. Or what exactly have the police done over the past decade to play nice with the goddamn station they already have. Maybe ask why an M-16 is more important than the funding needed to bring the station up to code.
Here’s a good question: how many hours of overtime did Police Chief Ed “Arrests aren’t being made when they normally would be” Moore and his predecessors approve for a cop to watch the faulty cell block system that is only now being replaced? Better yet, how many criminals did his officers turn out onto the street because of so-called issues with the station?
These are questions some if not all of these reporters might ask, had they the time or urging to write something poignant. Instead, they’re prodded into following the herd into mediocrity; rushed into producing something that is hardly news worthy and hardly worth forking over 50 cents to read.