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A Bad Case of Gas At the Sun-Sentinel

Through it all, I continue to be awestruck by the absolute idiocy of the Sun-Sentinel's Help Team. This weekend may have marked a new low for the marketing side-devised scheme that is being carried out by ten unfortunate reporters (I think it's ten from memory anyway). This time, it's the Sunday front-page package (another beautiful thing about this continuing debacle is that it plays out on such valuable real estate in the newspaper -- there is no shame here). By "consumer columnist" Daniel Vasquez, it's a package about the rising cost of gasoline. The lede:

"Every time a service station flips those big black numbers on its sign to show how much the price of gasoline has gone up, life in South Florida changes."

That's so sad. We all know that gas prices have been plunging for the past couple weeks or so. Plunging. So why did the Sentinel run the package? Because it was obviously a major project devised before the gas started heading south. Poor Vasquez wrangled up a giant panel of 20 citizens to discuss the rising price (don't laugh, that's 20 people who'll be picking up a copy of the Sunday paper, people!). That's a lot of work for an obsolete story. And the piece itself -- well it was a sprawling, rambling mess. You can see where he added a clause here and there, too:

"Even though gas prices have dipped recently ... "

"As part of a special ongoing project, they'll help the newspaper gauge the real-life cost of rising AND FALLING gas prices."

Oh yeah. Almost forgot. They're committed to an "special ongoing project" on this currently moot point (at least from the "here's how to save pennies in the face of rising gas prices" perspective). Hell, one of the panelists quoted in the story can stop suffering and probably hire back his POOL GUY that he recently had to tragically fire.

This stuff is so insufferable. Thank you, Help Team, for the material. Looks like you're going to be there to kick around for some time to come, too. After the jump: Homeless beatings, Cuba and more!

-- Most overplayed story in recent memory: The assault on the homeless guy. It's on the front page of the Sentinel every day and is getting strong play in the Herald, too. It's pathetic. Stories ad nauseum on the dangers of being homeless (Gosh, we had no idea!). Some guy got a couple of cuts during a clash in the park. Today's front-page story in the Sentinel confirms that it never was much of a story at all: These kids were just pissed after a confrontation with a cop and roughed up a random street guy. After the first day burst of ignorance and excitement, it's down to a brief, people. A brief that got about five front-page stories out the Sentinel.

-- From the "It's About F-ing Time" file, Missy Diaz tells us in the Sentinel that the Palm Beach County Courts are going to have their records on-line in October. And, attesting to the wonders of governmental efficiency, all it took was ten years.

-- How many times has the pilgrimmage back to Cuba been put in print? How tired is it, how damn boring? I'm sorry, but the Palm Beach Post is using way too much ink for its sportswriter, Carlos Frias, to wax poetic on his trip to the island. Five-part series? C'mon. Why does every hardship that ever occurred in Cuba, no matter how long ago, rise to the level of melodramatic news around here to this day? Get over it. Goddammit, stop wallowing and get over it.

-- I liked Tim O'Meilia's lede in the Palm Beach Post on this one: "PALM BEACH — One thing you can buy in Boca Raton that you can't buy in Palm Beach: a Venti nonfat decaf pumpkin latte extra foam."

I'm sending the link to Jim Romenesko for his Starbucks Gossip site. That such a drink even exists is very strong evidence that America has begun its downward spiral.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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