on Oct 27, 2007
Once in a while you see a mistake in the news. Sometimes they spell the name of a city wrong, or misplace a comma in an amusing way. It’s funny to see when it happens, and sometimes good for a laugh.
But last night I saw this. The story hasn’t changed since I spotted it twelve hours ago, but I’ve saved the text in case they do:
Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa said police found hard drives containing hundreds of thousands of pornographic images at the home of Graham Hurley as well as a 72-inch television.
People could only get in or out of the second floor room containing the equipment by using a fingerprint identifying system.
Police said Hurley also hid cameras in the house to spy on young girls.
The discovery was made a week ago when investigators were arresting Hurley after receiving a tip he’d alleged molested a minor.
Zisa said Hurley’s family did not know what was going on.
Hurley was on suicide watch at Bergen Regional Medical Center.
It starts of talking about “child pornography”, but then refers to “four hard drives” with pornographic images and… a television? I’m sure the TV is germane to the case, but whoever wrote the story didn’t tell us why. We’re just left to guess. Televisions are not normally connected to computers and are not inherently illicit devices. Also, police usually seize computers, not hard drives. Again, the story doesn’t tell us why.
I had to read this several times before I could make sense of it. It made it sound like they had to bring in their fingerprinting kit, and then use it to help them enter (and exit) the room. I assume they mean the suspect had a fingerprint scanner in his house, and that it was the only way to open the door to the room. That’s an odd thing to have in a house, and stranger still that you need to be scanned going both ways. This is such an unexpected thing to have in a residence that the author should have explained what this room was. (Basement? Bedroom? Underground vault? The entrance to the Bat Cave?) What sort of residence is this, anyway?
Which seems an odd place to put cameras. If he wanted to spy on people, why did he put the cameras in his own house? More to the point, why were there young girls in this guy’s house? He used the cameras to record them doing… what exacty? The article makes it sound like the cameras are spread around the house, which means they are unlikely to capture anything more than security footage. Again, you can devise all sorts of ways in which the above makes sense, but that’s not why you read news stories.
The discovery of…? What? The hard drives? The cameras? The fingerprint scanner? The child porn, which is not otherwise mentioned in this entire article? He had a hard drive with hundreds of thousands of images, but you don’t use movie cameras to get still images. It didn’t even say the still images was the illegal sort of porn. It just said he had lots of images. Which aren’t related to the cameras. Or the television.
The reader just isn’t given enough information to understand what this guy was doing. It lists the evidence, but not why the evidence was important.
Emphasis mine. Just a silly typo. But it’s not clear what actually happened a week ago and what happened “today”. The discovery of what? The porn? I thought they found that when they came to arrest him today? What did they find a week ago, what did they find today, and why was there a week between the two events?
Again: Context, people! They didn’t know what was going on while police were searching the house, or they didn’t know what was going on with the cameras? Or are you saying they didn’t know he had the motherlode of porn in his panic room? In which case: Duh. It would be a lot easier to catch these freaks if they told other people about it.
And while we’re on the subject of his “family”, are we taking his parents, or his spouse and possible children? Is this a 50 year old professional with six kids or a 28 year old unemployed loser living with his parents?
And so he’s at a medical center and not prison. Kind of odd. Did he get hurt? They can do the suicide watch thing from in jail, so it’s not clear why he’s in the sick house instead of the big house.
Note that this was on the front page, listed along with big national headlines. This was such a strange article because it was like reading something written by a kid. Once in a while my oldest daughter will write a book report (she’s 9) and it will flow like this article: A bunch of disjointed facts, related without context, without a clear order of events, and without providing enough information for the reader to actually understand what happened. But, you know: She’s 9.
It also doesn’t explain why this is a national story. They catch freaks like this all the time. What made this guy so special?
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.