Friday, February 2, 2007

Keeping Tabs on the News

It's a shame we don't have any cheesy tabloid newspapers covering Maine. All the news we have now is responsible, official-sounding and... boring.

This is why we need tabloids. Of course, when people hear “tabloid,” they think National Enquirer, which covers space aliens giving birth to a 275-pound reincarnated Elvis. There are “tabloids” that cover “real” news, just in a more creative way than the mainstream media.

Imagine how much more interesting Maine news would be if we had a newspaper like The New York Post. Here are a few recent headlines from The Bangor Daily News; I'll show you how a scrappy tabloid like The Post would have handled the story:

The headline “Bucksport Targets Youth Drinking” would have been written “No More Drunk Bucks.”

Similarly, “Overcrowded State Prisons Lack Funding” would become “Wardens Whine for Crowded Cons.”

“Airport Plan for Jonesboro Dropped” transforms to “Just Plane Jonesin'.”

“Former Officer to Serve Five Days for Slashing Tires” would become “Ex-Cop in Clink For Firestone Filet.”

Okay, one more: “Warden Awaits Safe Ice to Kill Deer Hurt on Lake” equals “Bambi Execution Stayed.”

I could do this all day long, but you get the idea.

The downside, of course, is that The New York Post is one of the raunchiest, most irresponsible newspapers in the world. It cannot be relied upon for truthful information.

A recent article on the New York Yankees is a perfect example. The Post splashed a big article on its sports page about how shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez need to repair their friendship in order for the Yankees to succeed.

The problem: the only source for this analysis was Daryl Strawberry, a former ballplayer-turned-crack addict who, according to the article, was basing his information solely on “a vibe he gets from watching the games on TV.”

With those kinds of editorial standards, they might as well just make stuff up.

Still, the tabloids have an important function in our society. They tend to take more risks and report stories more aggressively, which occasionally results in breaking some actual news earlier than other papers.

But most importantly, they add spice to the news. The Post wakes me up, gets me interested in the world. Then I turn to The Boston Globe or The Washington Post to find reality.

The news is depressing. As comedian Steven Wright once said, “Depression is anger without enthusiasm.” We need a tabloid to add the enthusiasm – to give us a reason to get emotionally interested in the news, and to act (even if that action amounts to tossing the paper aside in a disgusted manner).

Are the people of Maine just going to lay down and take all this responsible, classy journalism? We deserve better! Are we just going to let the local media bludgeon our enthusiasm with thoughtful, high-minded, and carefully-crafted reporting that has limited bias? Where is our New York Post, our Boston Herald? Where is our God-forsaken FOX News, for crying out loud?

If I am fortunate enough to continue writing this column for an audience, I will do my best to fill the void. I will work tirelessly to deliver the freshest, most important news while adhering fiercely to the highest ethical standards of the entertainment industry.

It won't be easy, but I hope you'll agree I have a knack for it.


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