Sunday Morning Meditation – Driving me up a tree

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt February 9, 2014

CheetosThe other day a reader posted the following message on the Facebook page.

“ appears to be taking sides in the tree debate – the side that does not like trees! Is it true?”

No, it isn’t. I am totally objective. In fact, I am the perfect person to cover the tree ordinance controversy.

I don’t own property in Decatur. I like trees. I also understand that there are property owners that might not like the new ordinance. But, I also understand that there’s a community-wide benefit from having a tree canopy.

I get both sides of the issue. I understand that both sides are quite passionate. But as a reporter, as a reader, and as a human being, I could not think of a more boring topic.

Even golf is more exciting than the tree ordinance.

So what kinds of stories interest reporters?

Glad you asked. It turns out an actor who voiced McGruff the Crime Dog was arrested in Texas for growing marijuana and keeping a stockpile of weapons.

I read that story and knew that somewhere there is a God and he likes journalists. Really, really likes them.

There are several reasons why this story is infinitely more fascinating to me than the tree ordinance. Let’s compare:

Subject matter

Tree ordinance story – Trees

Crime dog story – A talking dog that fights, commits crime

The flora

Tree ordinance story – Various species of trees

Crime dog story – High quality marijuana

The conflict

Tree ordinance story – A passionate group of residents wants to increase Decatur’s tree canopy. An equally passionate group of other residents thinks the ordinance goes too far and infringes on their rights as property owners.

Crime dog story – The actor who played McGruff the crime dog was pulled over in Galveston, Texas, and police officers discovered a diagram for his indoor grow house in the passenger seat of his car.

Why it’s news

Tree ordinance story – People in Decatur are very passionate about this issue. They’ve formed two distinct groups, held public meetings and one group is planning an Arbor Day celebration to promote tree planting in the city.

Crime dog story – A man who played a talking dog that warned kids to stay away from crime was arrested for growing pot and owning a grenade launcher.

The quotes

Tree ordinance story – “It’s a shame we’ve been divided over the issue of trees.” – Chad Stogner, local property owner.

Crime dog story – “Everything I read about you makes you seem like a scary person.” – Judge to actor who played McGruff the crime dog, after the actor claimed that in spite of owning enough fire power to overthrow Kansas, he was not a violent person.

So you see, no matter how fascinating you believe this issue to be, you will never have to worry about my allegiances.

I couldn’t take a side here even if I were inclined to do so. I will cover the hell out of this story, because people like reading about it, even if I would rather be working on the crime dog’s biography.

I am totally, depressingly, objective.

Trees can’t beat a talking, pot-smoking, grenade-launcher wielding dog. Sorry.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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