More Messages: Here Kitty, Kitty

Websites allow newspapers to put items online quickly, without having to wait for the presses to roll -- and that's a good thing. But letting the cat out of the bag only works if the cat's actions are updated in a timely way.

Yesterday morning, the city of Parker sent out a press release revealing that a cougar had been spotted in the community's Hidden River area the night before. The Rocky Mountain News dutifully responded with a website brief headlined "'Aggressive' Cougar Sighted in Parker," which noted that "the town has begun posting warning signs in that neighborhood and is telling residents to be extra cautious on trails." As for YourHub.com, the community website/publication affiliated with the Rocky through its Denver Newspaper Agency lineage, it quickly posted the Parker notice, which had been submitted by community affairs coordinator Sara Walla.

Joe McDaniel definitely appreciated the YourHub.com offering, albeit for a quirky reason. "Thanks for the alert," he wrote in an online comment. "Hopefully this animal is hunting the neighborhood dog that barks incessantly and wakes us up at 6 a.m."

No such luck. At 3:30 p.m. that afternoon, Walla sent out another release, notifying the media that after investigating the initial report, "the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Town of Parker staff have been unable to find any substantial evidence of the animal in the Hidden River area." But while YourHub.com updated its original page with this new information, the Rocky didn't bother, leaving Parker residents visiting its site to wonder if a bloodthirsty beast was still waiting to pounce on them.

Granted, staying wary may not have been a waste of time. Walla says that another cougar-sighting tip came in on the morning of July 20. "The Division of Wildlife think it's probably long gone," she noted shortly after noon, "but we're trying to do what we can for public awareness in the area." As of this writing, though, the Rocky has yet to issue an all-clear in regard to the first sighting, let alone inform the public about a second one.

Did the Rocky forget about this story? Or am I just being catty? -- Michael Roberts

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