Censored trees, funny headlines, bad ad placements, and other fun posts from 2014

knob1 1. We started 2014 with some strange censorship from the Johnson City Press. The Tennessee paper didn’t want readers seeing a 4-inch knob sticking out of a 30-foot maple. “It’s a male tree, there’s no doubt about that,” the homeowner (at right) told the paper. Commenters wondered why the Press wouldn’t show the growth. One wrote: “While you’re at it, you’d better change the name of your town to something less offensive than Johnson City.”
* Very strange censorship, Johnson City Press!

bingo2. In February, two Boston University students sent me a “bingo card” with things they’d heard repeatedly from j-class guest speakers. Example: “There’s no better time to be a journalist.” I seem to recall that they’d drawn the card in November, had it taped to their refrigerator for several weeks, then decided to send it to me. (Correct me if I’m wrong, guys.) I knew right away it would be a hit with journalists. The bingo card item quickly went viral and was probably my most-shared Facebook post and most-retweeted tweet.
* Journalist guest speaker cliche bingo

3. This headline ran in April, but it had absolutely nothing to do with April Fool’s Day. Vilas County News-Review editor Gary Ridderbusch told me that “I’ve never heard one comment” about the name of the jerky-related event. I pressed him, and he admitted that maybe there was a “snicker” from those unfamiliar with the annual bash.
* Wisconsin paper notes “Great Northern Jerk-Off” anniversary/CONTINUES

gotstumps4. In May, the Anchorage Daily News (now called Alaska Dispatch News) ran a page-one story about a triathlete who lost her leg in a bike-car collision. Unfortunately, a “Got Stump?” sticker ad appeared right above the photo of the woman and her stump. “Someone wasn’t thinking,” noted the stump-removal service owner. In November, the Iowa City Gazette had a buy-one-get-one-free spaghetti dinner sticker ad on top of a story about obesity.
* Got Stumps? An unfortunate ad placement
* Obesity’s up – and this sticker ad doesn’t help!

5. This happened, too:
* Providence Journal’s unfortunate ad placement

6. Readers got a kick out of the “GET OUT OF WEATHER STORY FREE” Monopoly-like cards that were distributed to Indy Star foosball winners in October. One commenter wrote: “As hot as that would be at a paper, the value of that at a TV station would be GOLD.”
* No-weather-story cards a hot item at the Indy Star

7. Perry Backus’s lede on his October story: “Two members of the Stoner family were charged with growing marijuana at their family home in Corvallis this week.
* Stoner bust makes a headline writer’s day

8. I posted a lot of memos in 2014, but I think the best was Mike Pesca’s. He wrote when he left NPR for Slate in February: “I had a choice. Quit now or work five more years to qualify for the iPhone 5 adapter. It was a tough decision, not made any easier by the fact that NPR owns my iPhone, so if I left I’d have to surrender that anyway.”
* No iPhone 5 adapter NPR anniversary gift for Mike Pesca

9. In 2014 there were newspaper layoffs and buyouts, circulation declines, revenue woes – and then this damn sign!
* Just hilarious, street planner!

10. In August, I reported a “medical miracle” of sorts: A man’s hemorrhoids disappeared after his Economist subscription expired “as a result of shorter bathroom visits.”
* An ex-Economist reader’s “fascinating and insightful letter”

11. An August news story reported good news for dogs: their meat wasn’t as popular in South Korea. An ad next to the article in the Charleston Gazette showed a mutt with a party hat.
* Dog meat dishes no longer as popular in South Korea

12. It was a tough year for Bill Cosby – and, apparently, Huntsville’s WAFF-TV.
* Bill Cosby faces “rap alligations”

13. Phuc Kieu was arrested in Florida (then cleared), and the Gainesville Sun played it straight. It did note that the man’s name “was verified by GPD officers.”
* Yes, Phuc Kieu is the sexual assault suspect’s name

14. Gannett came out with new job descriptions for the “Newsroom of the Future” in August. It didn’t take long for the parody listings to follow.
* Bullshit Artist 1 and other parody Gannett job positions

15. A Medill student tipped me off to the “Itegrated” misspelling during the graduation ceremony. Within minutes, I was seeing my post tweeted with the #MedillF hashtag.
* Medill F for Northwestern for its “itegrated” misspelling

Thanks to Romenesko readers and tipsters for helping to make 2014 a great year.