Off-beat columnist Noah Blundo wonders how his newsroom decided to identify a bull as a bull.

I had planned to use this week's column as a platform to announce my
intention to seek the vacant Dover City Council seat, but my exploratory
committee has since discovered that I live in New Philadelphia, which is
not, they tell me, a part of Dover's Ward 1.

So instead I've decided to give you all an inside look into The
Times-Reporter, a glance at what lengths we as seasoned news professionals
are willing to go to for the purpose of ensuring the utmost standards of
truth and accuracy in our chronicling of the day's news. Specifically, how
we closely scrutinize the personal bits of farm animals from multiple angles
with high-resolution digital-imaging technology.

To explain: In Monday's T-R on page C-3 was a picture of a bull trying to
shield itself behind a bale of hay as the snow and wind kicked up near Dover
on Sunday, along with this helpful caption: "A bull tries to shield itself
behind a bale of hay as the snow and wind kicked up near Dover Sunday."

If you think that's a fairly straightforward concept, then you are unaware
of the extremely important questions we journalists are forced to answer on
tight deadlines. Namely, how did we know it was a bull? Or, actually, as the
caption originally read, how did we know it was a cow?

My suggestion to avoid the issue by describing the animal as a bovine
quadruped was shot down, and initial investigation found the cow to be
posing too modestly to reveal its gender (or sex, for you sociology types).

Luckily, our photographer Pat, no doubt anticipating such a pressing
newsroom crisis, had taken several photographs from different vantage
points. He was then able to team up with Joe, a senior reporter who also
happens to have a degree in animal science, and together, the two of them
were able, through a combination of decades of journalistic experience and
advanced computer technology, to severely violate the bull's privacy.

Also, they found out that it was actually a bull, a fact we were able to
print because it had been verified by two professional journalists, a tiny
fraction of whose pay this week will reflect time spent confirming said
fact.

Proper animal categorization is not an issue that only faces the journalists
of The T-R either. My girlfriend, a reporter elsewhere in eastern Ohio,
relayed to me a similar story from her newsroom in which a team of editors
was set to the task of determining whether a given animal was a mule or a
donkey. I'm not sure what they eventually decided, but I am certain the
dignity of the mule/donkey was not compromised quite so harshly as the
bull's.

Not that bulls are particularly dignified animals. You never see Sunday
night National Geographic specials showing the silhouette of a lone steer
against a blazing red African sunrise accompanied by the hushed narration of
a British man:

"At dawn, the proud steer rises to prowl the horizon of the windswept grazing
land, asserting dominance over the herd's vast territory as he prepares to
stalk his main prey, the elusive grass tuft."

(Commercial announcer: Up next on the Nature Channel -- "The World's
Deadliest Goldfish.")

In conclusion, I'd like to thank the bull for being such a good sport.