CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (TDB) --It's no secret the fate of the U.S. newspaper industry is grim. Stocks in publicly traded media companies like Gannett Co. Inc. are near all-time lows, advertising has dried up, job cuts are common and readers are deserting print for the Internet. And some wonder if the intellectual scale of the nation's corps of journalists has grown thin -- that acuity and sense, background and exposure are eroding. Now there is anecdotal evidence the concern could be legit. In Ohio, a photographer for Gannett's Chillicothe Gazette has admitted publicly she wasn't sure that bulls can't have babies. A bull, of course, is the male version of a bovine animal. By definition, its sexual genitalia must be intact and capable of reproduction. Cows have a uterus; bulls have testicles and the equipment for delivering their seed. There are other clues in the English language that bull is a word that equates to male -- bull elephant and bull moose come to mind.
The newspaper photographer won't be identified by name here. She is a graduate of a prestigous university in Boston, and grew up on Long Island. She wrote this week that she had the chance to meet with a local 4-H club member who explained the "differences between cows, heifers, steer and bulls." Still, the journalist needed more information:
"'Male cows can have babies?' I asked, honestly thinking this was a possibility. Nature, you know, throws curve-balls all over the place. Again, laughter. In case you're wondering, they meant that bulls can reproduce, not actually have babies."
You can read the photographer's account of her puzzlement here. It doesn't sound like she was flinging bull. She said she and her reporter partner know virtually nothing about rural life and agriculture:
"So here we are, forced to confront the limits of our city educations. I, from Long Island, and Loren, from Buffalo, have had no contact at all with farm animals. Ever. Although a goat at a petting zoo once ate my hairband and some of Loren's sorority sisters once had pet ducks." To their credit, the journalists want to go out to a farm and learn. Maybe there's hope for newspaper people after all.