So last week James Barlow links to a tweet which points out a story on Bristol Indymedia about a UWE student being arrested for criminal damage involving chalk.
Paul Saville had been arrested for writing a slogan about liberty on the pavement at Bristol's Broadmead shopping centre. It took four officers and a PCSO but resolve this incident involving a calm and compliant person armed only with some calcium carbonate. Saville was given a caution.
A couple of weeks later he's back at Broadmead and chalks another slogan on the floor. The cops pull up and he's nicked and is now due to appear before magistrates charged with criminal damage.
Sure, second time round is pushing it, but it's a bit over the top and whatever happens his fingerprints and DNA are now on file for good.
Ring up Daily Mail straight off, 'yes please well have some words on that', get hold of Paul, 'sure I can tell you what happened' and then he says 'I did speak to the Bristol Evening Post but they said they didn't want to do anything because a court case was coming up'.
Well the BEP's inability to understand contempt of court isn't my concern so do the interview and set-up some pictures and file my copy. South West News also filed on it.
And the story appears in The Guardian diary, Daily Telegraph, BBC. Henry Porter weighs in with some ponderous words about us all going to hell in a hand basket and MP Kerry McCarthy points out that a bucket of water might have been cheaper than a visit to the cop shop. Nothing in the Mail (oh well).
And puffing up in last place is the dear old Bristol Evening Post. The paper offered the story in the first place.
Quite whether the reporter just thought 'nutter' when Paul rang up and used the old 'sub judice' excuse to get him off the phone or they didn't spot a good story or they genuinely thought it couldn't be covered isn't clear.
When I approached Avon and Someset Police for a quote I was told they wouldn't because of the court case. No off-the-record chat either to check the facts. Was it an attempt to shut the story down? No, I just think they couldn't be bothered.
Just to be clear though. There were two incidents involving Paul and his chalk. The first one was dealt with, so you can't prejudice it because there is no case. I could argue about why you're unlikely to prejudice a magistrate's hearing into the second case, but my heart isn't in it.
In contrast to the police, John Hirst, the Broadmead manager got me a comment within 20 minutes after I emailed early in the morning. UWE supplied me one about four hours after I asked.
Then I got an email from one of the sergeants who works at Broadmead expressing surprise that I hadn't sought a police comment. Sigh. Not for want of trying.
I suppose you could try and turn the post's poor show into a parable about how local newspapers are doomed. The Bristol online community had it all first and freelancers, who were light on their feet, only approached the nationals because they bother to pay and the BEP is left with the scraps.
Given the fact that Northcliffe is shedding jobs at the BEP and its sister papers like its going out of fashion one wonders whether reporters have the appetite.
Meanwhile some people are pledging a sympathy chalk-in on the day Paul is due before Bristol magistrates (April 9) and The Guardian made him the civil liberty hero of the week.
Free the chalkist 1!