Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Little Trouble in Big China

It's hard enough getting up in the morning, but this A.M. I do the stiff-backed stumble out of my house to pick up the ever-shrinking LA Times (sure, do away with the Books and Opinion sections on Sunday, that's just stuff that will make me think, but the Food section last Wednesday was a mere 4 pages and most of it was written by stringers, and I need to have recipes!), and I almost gasp as there's a second paper in my driveway. Of all things it's the News-Press, as I guess my "Boycott the News-Press" bumper sticker wasn't enough of a clue that the delivery person should stay away. Of course I took it straight to the recycling bin, worried even touching it might give me anti-real-news cooties or something (luckily it came in a plastic bag, sort of a McCaw prophylactic).

Also inside the bag was a green flyer pushing the paper's "Olympic Special," and all I could do was dream of the contests in a N-P Olympics--the Steepleton 100 yard dash to a donut, the Armstrong wrong way drunken drive 100, the Apodaca and then there were none marathon, the Cappello synchronized suing. Seriously, though it seems I could get 12 weeks of 7 day home delivery for $20. First, that must mean the next round of circulation figures gets determined in October. Second, that's 24¢ a day, so you might call this a loss leader. Third, the flyer looks as if it were designed by a Cub Scout pack member or something, definitely not what you'd expect from people who print things for a living. It's got some clip art columns on each side for "visual appeal" but as far as I know, the Chinese aren't into the Ionic column thing. I know the Olympics started in Greece, but just because I was born in NJ doesn't mean I expect anything about me to feature a Hadrosaurus foulkii.

Of course, the big sell for the flyer is that "The Santa Barbara News-Press is excited to be sending one of our very own to Beijing China. We are the only local news source who will be providing a local view on this exciting world event." There's no word if they'll bring the "one of their own" they send back from Beijing, so that person better be careful--The Chinese are tougher on their journalists than even Wendy is, even if both share a penchant for blocking websites. And all kidding aside, usually part of the point of a sell like this one is to trumpet who that fine reporter will be. Back in 2004 when the News-Press was still a paper it built a whole ad campaign about John Zant reporting live from Athens; in fact his work can still be found on the News-Press website, and not behind the paywall, even. What this means is our town's paper has writers no one knows by name. And no, Staff Report is not a name. In 2004 the paper was proud to say Zant was covering his 7th Olympics for the paper. Now it's possible the writer going to Beijing will be writing his or her 7th story for the paper.

It's also telling that our local news source is most proud about covering an event an ocean away. We're talking about a local paper so committed to its community it couldn't even post all its stories about the recent Gap Fire for free, as a public service or something.

I already called the 800 number on the flyer to report littering as I found a mass of paper on my driveway that doesn't belong. If it happens again I am going to report a violation of V.C. 42001.7 and hope that the police will be willing to prosecute. I really don't appreciate garbage being thrown on my property.



Blogger Drew said...

George, what has become of your blog layout? The once graceful curves have devolved into angry right angles.

3:13 PM  
Blogger George said...

My web designer said "it had a hitch in its giddy up."

So let's hope my horses are happier now.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Rickey Henderson said...

Gap fire? Please, the Chinese media prefers that you only report on Monk blazes.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Trekking Left said...

So, is it bad that I can't get the words "McCaw prophylactic" out of my head?

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some vendor pressed a copy into my hand by the fiesta dance stage. I'm not invested in the controversy, but I decided not to hold back, and said I had heard bad things about it. He said that was all overblown and I should subscribe. This issue had the whole second page filled with a large column of musings by Dr. Laura Schlesinger. The opinion page was all conservative. Does that happen every day or just Thursdays?

10:19 PM  
Blogger Smitty said...

Gap fire? Please, the Chinese media prefers that you only report on Monk blazes

Rickey strikes again!!

8:12 AM  
Anonymous kusala said...

So who is the lucky intrepid reporter who's being sent to Beijing on Ampersand's dime? The gossipmonger or the P.I.?

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the intrepid reporter to China will be Mark Patton, a name SBers should know. But is he still there?

9:27 AM  
Blogger theaverageman said...

According to Craig Smith, the reporter's name is Blake Dorfman, and he's not actually being sent -- he's paying his own way!!

10:02 AM  

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