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February 25, 2009

Baltimore County lawmakers love animals

The question rings out from newsrooms around the country: “Is there any art with that story?”

Art in the newspaper business is most commonly photographs. The people who design pages know that readers get turned off by gray blocks of type. So they try to wrap the type around attractive photographs, to keep eyeballs on pages.

There’s also a rule that is common in newsrooms around the country: “Get the name of the dog.” If you are a reporter working on a story that involves an animal, make sure the name of the animal is in the piece.

Those two elements were on display in today’s Washington Post, in a story about a legislative plan to allow Marylanders to establish trusts so that surviving pets receive care. The Post ran the story on the front of its Metro section, giving it fuller treatment than the Baltimore Sun, which ran a brief (and, sadly, no longer has a local news section.)

To answer the question of “art” with the story, the Post turned to the two main pet-loving sponsors of the plan, both from Baltimore County. A photo on the section front shows Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. with his dog, Indy. Photo credit: “Courtesy of John A. Olszewski Jr.” A second photograph, of a long-haired gray cat named Prince Albert, ran on the back of the section, with the jump of the story. Photo credit: “Courtesy of A. Wade Kach.” He’s a Republican.

So the Post got it right. They got the art. They got the names of the pets. We suspect it’s the first time ever that two Baltimore County legislators had photo credits in one of the nation’s top newspapers at the same time.

We also suspect the Post’s photo desk had little trouble rejecting the request to shoot professional images of Indy and Prince Albert.

Olszewski and Indy

Prince Albert, owned by Kach

Posted by David Nitkin at 3:31 PM | | Comments (0)

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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