I keep telling myself I’d like to do more actual journalism here on Windypundit, and to that end, I’ve been reading the Associated Press Reporting Handbook by Jerry Schwartz. The first few chapters give examples of AP news stories and then discuss the reporters’ approach to getting them.
The third chapter discusses “Main Street Welcomes McDonald’s — but Worries” a story about how the people of Coudersport, PA reacted to a McDonald’s restaurant opening in their small town. Schwartz discusses reporter Ted Anthony’s approach to reporting in some detail. Amusingly for a book about journalism, he makes a small factual error:
Coudersport was only one part of the story. Anthony wanted to look at the idea of Main Street in America — to look at whether the popular, idealized conception of the virtues of small-town life was valid. Anthony also wanted to know more about McDonald’s and about the philosophy of fast food. He read a book about the corporation’s history, “Behind the Arches.” He interviewed folks at McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Park, Ill.
I used to live half a mile from Oak Park, and it’s a mostly-residential community that would be unlikely to host the headquarters of a major international corporation. Besides, everyone around here knows that McDonald’s headquarters is in nearby Oak Brook. (Kim Bhasin at Business Insider has a nice pictorial tour of McDonald’s HQ.)
The book was from 2002, however, and the story was written even earlier, so I thought it just might be possible that McDonald’s used to be headquartered in Oak Park at some point, but Lisa McComb, Director of McDonald’s U.S. Media Relations, was nice enough to confirm for me that McDonald’s has never had an office in Oak Park.
She suggested that the mistake might have arisen because McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc lived in Oak Park at one point, but I think a more likely explanation is that Schwartz simply confused the similar village names. Settlers (or developers) here must have really liked Oak trees, because in addition to Oak Brook and Oak Park, Illinois also has Oak Grove, Oak Lawn, Oakdale, Oakford, Oakwood, and Oakwood Hills.