Crikey loves slow news days. They yield some of the most memorable stories. Like this pearler from the Newcastle Herald yesterday lamenting that a “rampaging rooster” had run foul of residents in the suburbs of New Lambton and that the neighbourhood watch were “arming themselves for safety”.
Sure, it’s not unusual for regional papers to deal in such matters — they are of big interest to local readers, after all — but an exclusive such as this is setting a standard in breaking news. With a snapper in tow, Todd Dagwell, the scribe behind the story, surely had his tongue firmly in cheek as he interviewed 70-year-old resident Elva Hawkins, who was mighty angry about Chanticleer, the crazy cock:
“I’ve had a gutful of this rooster. It starts crowing at 3am every morning and I was up from 5am to 6am chasing it off my lawn with a broom,” Ms Hawkins said. “I’m too old for that and it pooed on my doorstep.”
Just as the story was roaring its way through news wires around the world, Dagwell followed up with another startling revelation — the two-year old rooster had been caught.
Chanticleer’s three weeks of terror had been ended by a councillor’s net. Locals were cheering as Chanticleer was bundled into the back of a Newcastle City Council paddy wagon and sent to the local lock-up for processing. The Herald went big on the story, featuring a photo gallery slideshow of Chanticleer’s rampage and, ultimately, his demise.
Chas Licciardello, of Chaser boys fame, tweeted his response to the rooster yarn:
“Stunned that the wider media hasn’t chased up the big scoop headlining the Newcastle Herald site today.”
Complete with additional quotes from concerned residents, Chanticleer, with his “fiery red comb”, was now “Chookzilla” — poultry enemy No.1.
Sydney’s biggest selling paper even included Chookzilla in its editorial. Tongues again were firmly placed against cheeks, as the tabloid declared Chanticleer’s “era of unbridled evil” had ended and that this was the “best win for the good guys” since the capture of Saddam Hussein.
But the Tele’s chook article took on a much more sinister tone. At the bottom of the article they invited readers to answer this chilling ultimatum:
The Daily Tele have declared its hand, now it’s time to lay down ours: Free Chanticleer.