Off The Press

December 22, 2009

By David Hayes

Ruffled feathers lead to reader responses

David Hayes Press reporter

David Hayes Press reporter

In one week, The Issaquah Press will publish its top 10 stories of the year for 2009. Among such issues as the school and city budgets, banning dogs in Timberlake Park and the weather, I have no idea where a rooster falls.

That’s right, a rooster.

When we vote for a story, we usually weigh how much impact it had upon the community as a whole. Of all the weighty issues we’ve covered, none elicited as much passion, vitriol or feedback from our readers as McNugget the rooster.

When I went to cover the latest breaking story of McNugget, I had no idea I was opening another Pandora’s box.

In Greek mythology, out of curiosity, Pandora actually opened a jar gifted by Zeus, which became a box in the retelling over the ages, and released all the evils, ills, diseases and burdensome labor mankind had not known previously.Who knew that my coverage of the latest tale of a rooster would release the floodgates of pent-up emotions for the well being of a fowl? Our Web site became a running blog entry for those involved and everyone else with an opinion. If we actually went back to when our Web site relaunched in its new format, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the McNugget story generated more comments than every other story combined.

What could possibly be written about a rooster to generate such a prolonged reaction? Essentially, its attempted rescue from the extreme cold weather a couple of weeks ago.

Just who is this rooster that elicited such an emotional response?

McNugget escaped from Issaquah Grange Supply several years ago during a customer appreciation day petting zoo and he made the Staples parking lot his new home. After already surviving several winters and animal attacks, an effort to remove him was twice thwarted.

Now, in full disclosure, I did not talk to both sides of citizens involved to get the story to the Web quickly, just the potential rescuers. I did get a copy of a police report filed regarding the issue and those who complained I left out their side of the story, however, could not dispute any of the facts. But that did not stop the opinions from streaming in.

Check out some of the comments left on our Web site:

There were those who imparted human emotion upon an animal: “McNugget is happy where he is and he always will be. If he wasn’t, he’d do something about just like how he did when he left his previous home.”

There were the misunderstood: “I feel sad by the fact that there are people out there who can listen to one side of a story and completely write us off as bad, neglectful, money-hungry citizens, when we have been doing right by the community and also our dear friend McNugget.”

The “experts” weighed in: “I have chickens myself and have learned a great deal about taking care of them over the past seven years. … People need to understand that chickens are stupid and that they (like every stray animal) will stay where the food is.”

The participants kept the narrative rolling: “Give me a break. I didn’t say one thing to the reporter that was a lie. Why don’t you tell me what that was?”

There was the incredulous: “Really? This is what is of utmost importance to you and the community? Really? Are there no other important social issues that need addressing? Really? How very, very sad.”

And there was off the wall: “This rooster should be moved to a much warmer place…such as the fryer at KFC.”

Our editor cut off the comments at 134 for the original story and 13 for the follow up when they became an argument back and forth between a small group of people. And those were just the ones approved for family reading. It’s just amazing the hornet’s nest I riled up.

After releasing all the evils from the jar, Pandora did find hope at the bottom. Here’s to hoping we uncover more hot topics on the minds of our readers in 2010.

David Hayes: 392-6434, ext. 237, dhayes@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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