Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Where's Waldo?" - newspaper version

"Where's Waldo?" was a wonderful set of books. Spent hours poring over them with my children. Had plenty of fun. Never could find all the Waldos.

But I hate playing it in my newspaper. And so do most of our readers. So when I see a front-page tease like this:

A BIT O' PARADISE: HGTV to feature a tropical paradise on the banks of the Saluda. Page E1.

When I turn to page E1, I expect to read something about HGTV. So let's play a little "Where's Waldo?" together. Here's the story:

A tropical paradise rises on the banks of the Saluda

Chip Browne and his wife Melissa Sprouse-Browne love the Florida Keys and Caribbean. Chip is a scuba diver, and the couple married a year and a half ago on the island of St. Kitts. So when it came time for the couple to build their dream home, only a home with tropical island flair would do.

Before marrying, the couple looked at several properties around Lake Murray. However, the Real Estate School of South Carolina — which they co-own — is located in Columbia. Long hours spent teaching, as well as operating an advertising agency and a small realty company, keep them in town much of their days. The thought of a long drive home was not appealing.

Then, on a whim, Sprouse-Browne happened on an unlikely property in a pocket neighborhood off an I-26 frontage road near Lexington Medical Center. The half-acre property was wooded, but she said there was a "perfect doorway" into the woods that lead to a spectacular view from a bluff of the Saluda River.

"It was a hidden gem," she said. "I called Chip and said, 'You have to come here and look at this.' ... It's just so peaceful. We made an offer that day and bought it."

Two years later, the couple is living a tropical island lifestyle in the city of Columbia.

The two-story stucco home has an L-shape design and a blue metal tile roof. A massive pool is surrounded by a slate terrace with cascading waterfall as its focal point. Practically all the rooms overlook this pool area and/or the river from wide and often floor-to-ceiling windows. Most rooms in the large part of the L-design also flow onto either the downstairs patio or the upstairs balcony through sliding doors.

Tropical elements are everywhere. Most noticeably, all the railings and the entryway gate appear to be bamboo. Upon closer inspection, however, you realize that it is metal.

"It's powder-coated aluminum," said Sprouse-Browne, "and Metal Works in Pelion worked hard to get the real look of bamboo for us."

Other interesting touches are the poolside Tiki hut bar and lighted faux palm trees, real bamboo flooring throughout the first floor and a palm tree etched in the entryway glass door by Seattle, Wash., artist P.W. Mayer.

Over simple, modern glass-front maple cabinetry in the open kitchen is a three-foot panoramic photograph of the island of St. Kitts. Colorful Tech Lighting hangs over a quartz-topped kitchen island.

One of Sprouse-Browne's favorite areas is the master bathroom. "I gave up a fireplace in our living room for this Maax rainforest shower and a Jacuzzi tub," she said.

The rainforest shower is a corner unit with sliding doors and has a seat with massaging jets, multiple shower heads and a hand-held sprayer.

Practically every piece of furniture, the accessories and the ceiling fans are made of wicker, bamboo and/or sea grass.

There are soothing Behr paint colors of rich cream and Pineapple Fizz in the main living areas of the home, while a deep coral, ocean blue and an aqua are reserved for other rooms. The master bedroom is painted with a faux finish of palm leaves. Local artist Gina Antonelli also painted tropical birds on the walls in the bonus room and a faux texture in the master bathroom.

The Brownes have created an airy, sanctuary-like home, nestled among hardwood, with the river and all its wildlife below.

"I've never lived anywhere like this in my life," said Sprouse-Browne, "and it's so nice for Chip to come home and say he really loves this house."

Five Ways the Brownes Got the Home of Their Dreams

1. They poured through five years worth of Florida Design magazines to re-create an authentic tropical look.

2. They saved fixture and furnishings advertisements and kept them in a notebook.

3. They looked online for unusual sources for bamboo and wicker furniture and accessories.

4. They inquired about out-of-the-ordinary details from local resources: salt water in their pool; a realistic bamboo look for railings.

5. They worked with local decorator Kathleen Garnett of Room for Change to find real tropical colors for their interior walls.

OK. Time's up. Found it yet? Stumped?

So was I.

Moral of the story: We're not writing children's books. Check the teasers with what the stories really say. One person should be assigned in proof, at least, to read the teaser and then the story behind it. Otherwise, you've got the classic bait and switch, something not designed to leave happy readers.

(And about that "poured" in the pullout box at the bottom? Apparently that's a Web "extra." It was spelled correctly as pored in the print version. The five years worth was wrong in both, however. It should be years'. Of course, it would be easier just to say they pored through five years of ... "worth" is usually not needed.)


At 5/18/06, 2:12 AM, Blogger Muddy Politics said...

I think it will make you happy to hear that while media jobs are declining, as are newspaper subscriptions -- based on TV news reports (sketchy) -- that students are still entering journalism programs in college at increasing rates. The bad image isn't turning people away, and I hope there's some evidence soon that puts media back on the favorable side of the public. I've never understood how people can read news online. I CAN, I just prefer to wrestle with folding, dirty my pants with ink stains and enjoy a nice cup of coffee with the layman's educational tool.

At 5/18/06, 12:14 PM, Blogger Doug said...

The continued strong enrollment is reality according to summaries of studies I have seen. None of those summaries have parsed the data, however, and I have not had time to delve into it. It's important to remember that many journalism schools incorporate PR, advertising, visual communications, print and broadcast. The growth in the past few years has largely been in areas other than print/broadcast (and I use those really as generic terms for journalism, realizing the multimedia cast many are taking on). Visual communications is exploding. The question, of course, is of what use is it to have great graphics and well-designed Web sites without the solid reporting, writing and editing to put something in them? So my enthusiasm is tempered a bit until we see more data and another year or two of trends. One thing I have noticed anecdotally is that fewer PR students seem to have choice jobs waiting. Lots of "event planners" being hired at reporters' wages. That will put a damper on things.

At 5/18/06, 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a problem with the sentence, "Then, on a whim, Sprouse-Browne happened on an unlikely property in a pocket neighborhood off an I-26 frontage road near Lexington Medical Center."

Can you happen on a property something on a whim? Isn't it more likely that she decided to visit the house on a whim? Or that she happened on the house by chance?

At 5/18/06, 1:21 PM, Blogger Doug said...

Oh, there are some other small problems in the story, this being one of them. You are right in your analysis: Why is "on a whim" needed at all when "happened" expresses the idea of unplanned?


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