Crime and Publishing

Inside a small-town paper’s police blotter.

The modern American police blotter was born in 1833, when George W. Wisner, a pioneering New York crime reporter, began regaling readers of the Sun with pithy one-liners from the city’s 4 a.m. hearings. Almost 180 years later, Wisner’s droll sensibility lives on, nearly unchanged, in the blotter of the Lufkin Daily News, a wry account of the strange, sad, and surprising misdemeanors and felonies that afflict the city of 35,000 deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas.

Items run the gamut from the mundane (“A purse was found floating in a ditch full of water Sunday”) to the bizarre (“A man reported finding a steak knife stuck in the ground outside his apartment”). Themes emerge. Like meat thefts: “Pork chops, pork loin, and ground ham-burger were reported stolen from a home Thursday,” and “A mother reported her son stealing meat from her Sunday.” Also, assaults with everyday objects: “A woman handing out sweet roll samples on Saturday at a business reported that a customer took a sample and threw it in her face,” and “A Lufkin woman was arrested for reportedly striking her uncle with a handheld vacuum cleaner.”

The blotter is the first thing many Lufkinites turn to when they open the paper, and the mind behind it is Jessica Cooley, a petite strawberry blonde: “Our [blotter is]

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