I’m sharing this with y’all even though I’m sure all my local readers are following this as raptly as I am, because I don’t want my non-local readers to miss out on the most amusing Nashville story of the year.
It started this weekend with the discovery of a mysterious abandoned plane out at the old Cornelia Fort airport, which has not been operational since the flood and has, in fact, been turned over to Metro Parks. Then, there was a quaint story in The Tennessean about this charming old guy who crashed his plane but, thank Jesus, was saved.
They’ve since changed the story, but you can get a feel for the approach the writer took in the lead Jim Ridley preserved on this post.
And why did they have to change the story? Because the charming old coot at the center of it is a convicted drug smuggler. And not some minor drug smuggler, either. Plus, he’s the kind of drug smuggler who brags about it on his LinkedIn page. But, while The Tennessean was running its story about the eccentric character who left his plane in the park, The City Paper was all over the “convicted drug smuggler without proper medical clearance and without other necessary paperwork flies from Miami and lands his plane so softly in Nashville that it didn’t even signal a crash. Isn’t that odd?” aspect of the story.
So this was rather embarrassing to The Tennessean, since they’d failed to Google the dude or even hear “flight from Miami” and “mysteriously abandoned plane in an abandoned airport” and made the obvious connection. Today they have a pretty thorough update to their original story.
But damn, they got pwnd (as the kids say) by The City Paper. I suspect it’s because Gannett has so gutted the newsroom over there that there just isn’t any institutional memory where someone says “Russell Brothers? Why do I know that name?”
I mean, I see that just with the Maytown story (which is hopefully dead), but everyone who reported on the lawsuits (actual reporting, not blogging) was not with their respective papers when the story first came out. So, the whole back history and who was related to whom and why just wasn’t in the back of their minds.
This airplane story is hilarious and interesting, but that it played out on the pages of The Tennessean how it did is a chilling reminder of what we’ve lost in the newsroom upheavals of the last decade.
But also, someone needs to make a movie about this dude. I don’t know what he looks like in real life, but I’m already imagining Tommy Lee Jones in the lead role.