"Get the name of the dog." It's a mantra of good journalism. It means, get every little detail, because you never know which one might be telling. As Brendan McCarthy shows is this Times Picayune article, it's not enough to get the name of the dog. You also have to know when to use that detail and, more importantly, when to leave it in the notebook.
McCarthy has great material. It's a bank robbery like you'd see on K-Ville. An organized team robbed an armored car in the middle of the day. Allow me to quote at length so that that you can hear the tone deaf delivery:
Three men in ski masks with assault rifles at their sides pulled off a highly choreographed armored-truck heist late Thursday morning and exchanged gunfire with a security guard outside a bank in the bustling Riverbend neighborhood.
A just the facts lede. Nothing wrong with that.
The brazen armed robbery, according to police and witnesses, went like this: Shortly before 11:30 a.m., a black Dodge Intrepid squealed to a halt -- diagonally across the road -- outside Mona's Cafe at 1120 S. Carrollton Ave. Car horns began blaring. Drivers started swearing.
A man dressed in black with a ski mask covering his face got out of the car and walked down the block.
He starts to slip here. If you're going try a narrative approach, it's best not to start so bland.
Across the tree-lined street, children at St. Andrew's Episcopal School reveled at recess, playing a game of Octopus, when the commotion erupted. A teacher ushered the students into the chapel and led them in prayer.
Ah, the revelry of youth! I bet you didn't know this, but it was also a beautiful morning in New York the day the terrorists attacked the Twin Towers. Innocence and evil! How can they both exist in this world of ours?
On the Zimpel Street side of the building, an armored truck idled. An armored-truck guard pushed a cart stacked with encyclopedia-sized boxes of coins and money toward the truck. The other guard held the door open.
The gunmen confronted the guards.
Bennett Luke, a bank customer, said he was inside leaning against a wall, chatting on his cell phone. The room suddenly went quiet.
Well, now that it's quiet Luke will find it easier to talk on his cell phone.
The gunmen fired several rounds. Across Zimpel Street, a young man in his pajamas heard the shots. His cat was clawing at the window.
"Dut-dut-dut-dut . . . It sounded like firecrackers going off," said the man, who asked not to be identified.
"I came out of my house and this guy had a straight-up AK-47," he said. "It even had a banana clip on it. This was a professional job. No doubt about it."
The robbers got away with an undisclosed amount of money, authorities said. They never entered the bank, according to sources.
My word, man, it's 11:30 in the morning. Time to take a shower and get dressed. No wonder he didn't want to be identified. And watch that cat. Sounds like it's trying to escape.
What I want to know is whether any puppies witnessed this brazen crime. And what was that puppy's name?