Sunday, April 24, 2005

The rock 'em, sock 'em news


My Boston Globe covered some compelling stories this morning. I learned millions of federal government records have disappeared from public sight. Many have been stamped with such designations as "for official use only" by low-level clerks or, in the case of the Homeland Security Department, by any of the 180,000 people who work there. If you're interested, you can't get a directory of who works at the Pentagon any more. Nor can you find out if your house is downwind from a dangerous chemical plant. You can't even find out how many and what kind of documents have disappeared into a black hole of new classifications such "sensitive but unclassified" and "not for public dissemination."

It was a chilling news report. But it didn't claim the lead news position in my paper.

Neither did a powerful piece out of Iraq. It reported that insurgents are launching fewer but larger-scale assaults. This, reports The Globe, "has prompted some commanders to reexamine their believe that the insurgency (is) on the wane."

No, the lead story -- the one editors considered the biggest news of the day in my morning Boston Globe was this: Beer sales are up 20 percent at Fenway Park .... Got it.

Now I've been a city editor. And I can envision the conversation of front-page decision-makers.
The beer story is: (1) local news (2) timely (a drunk Red Sox fan took a swipe at a Yankee outfielder last week) (3) tied loosely to a team the city's citizenry reveres even more than the new Pope.

But beer sales?

And then it all made sense. On the same front page The Globe ran a story about the spread of crystal meth abuse. Booze. Drugs. War. Secrecy. It was a front page that collectively captured America, 2005: Some real news for those who still read and a cross-section of reality about those who'd rather do anything but.

In fact, perhaps The Globe should have captured the day's news under a single headline:
"Bye-bye war, hello wooziness, who cares ... freedom's a mess, I think I'ma gonna cry-y."

So pour me a 16-ouncer. By next week, I could be coming at you with a new feel-good reality, something like: "It's nuclear -- and awfully nice. Why getting rid of Senate filibusters gets down with God."

Go Sox.


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November 22, 2005 at 6:25 PM  

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