There Are Too Many Good Stories To Count!

Good morning all,

Even as we were joking (I think we were joking!) yesterday about the relative grist for D.C. cocktail party chatter provided by the Web vs. dead-tree newspapers, I’d like to spark a more substantive conversation today about community. As a newspaper guy, I always hoped the work we did would yield great conversation for community in the broadest sense of the word. With an eye toward those communities, I’m picking out the three most interesting (not necessarily most important) stories I saw in the papers this morning—the kinds of things that, back in the day, would lead one person to say to another, “Hey, did you see in the paper today that …” I’d love to hear the points of comparison from the Webbies and maybe discuss the notion of what kinds of communities our two sides are serving.

I live in Seattle, and Paper No. 1 on the doorstep is the Seattle Times. The huge local story here in Jet City: “Boeing 787 may not fly this year.” The rollout of the “Dreamliner” jet plane of the future has been marred by more delays and design problems. Boeing may move some operations to South Carolina. People are indeed discussing this. (Disclosure: I like jets; I’m writing a book about them. Still, this story takes up half of the front page.)

The second paper on my doorstep is the New York Times. Yes, I could get it for free on the Web, or at least cheaper through the Kindle or Times Reader. And it’s so bloody expensive, I may just do it. But I worked there for 20 years, I’m very loyal to the institution, and, for me, the newsprint experience is still vastly superior to any other way of reading the NYT. This is a terrific, and somewhat scary, read: testing young baseball players not only to confirm their ages (and maybe the old guys—”Papi” Ortiz, we could be talking to you) but also, potentially, for predictor genes of their medical future. And, if it works for baseball, what’s to stop other employers from getting interested? A good ethical-dilemma piece.

I have never subscribed to USA Today, but I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of free copies over the years, distributed by airlines, car rental companies, hotels, etc. I love that it’s still around and getting better with age. Skipping over a worthy Page One news-I-can-use piece (“Parking Fines Easy Cash for Cities: But bills’ extra bite may leave tourists with bitter taste“), I go inside the paper and see it has the best details and water-cooler wrap-up on the Skip Gates story. This story has to be some sort of national Rorschach test, and I would assume everybody is talking about it, though I wouldn’t really know since I’m not on the Web and have found it strangely downplayed in the dead-tree NYT. Aren’t people talking about it? Webbies, what about it? (Disclosure: I was brusquely confronted and questioned by these same Cambridge cops last year when the burglar alarm went off at the house where my stepmother lives. I felt geographically, but not racially, profiled—cops found it very suspicious that some guy from Seattle was wandering around her backyard with his dog.) 

Oh, and one other thing. Too bad I don’t get a fourth pick, because for sure it would be this in the Seattle Times: “Summer brings the heat—Temperatures expected to hit 90s over the weekend—Sunny weather is envy of the nation.” Those are the actual headlines, folks, and I am digging the weather. Still, I must have become a Seattleite—I miss the rain and am looking forward to its return.