Every year a family in Black Hills holds a pool before the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Everyone throws in $5 and then randomly pulls out a number from a hat. That's their bet for the number of bikers that will die that year. And the Rapid City Journal made it front page news.
The South Dakota rally, now in its 74th year and drawing tens of thousands of bikers from all walks of life, is equal parts motorcycle show and lifestyle event, and every year a handful of bikers die. That's just a given.
Seven years ago the Landrum family began the pool, spurred on by a family friend. This year, 12 people drew numbers for a total pot of $60.
"We hate that anybody does die, but we know it's going to happen," says Landrum. "[The pool] is not meant in any way to be malicious, or hoping anyone has a bad accident."
The story, which inexplicably ran on the front page of the Rapid City Journal and was picked up by the AP was met with an unending stream of backlash on Facebook. Romenesko pulled out a few choice quotes, including:
Saw this on the front page this morning and was thoroughly disgusted. Whether or not individuals choose to do this sort of thing, it is not newsworthy, not front-page-worthy and treating it as such is an embarrassment to our community.
A former staffer at the newspaper, Lenn Davis, said the Journal had "hit rock bottom".
Oh, and the friend that originally started the pool – he died in a motorcycle accident, according to Landrum.