Condo Hell, Lambiet 2.0, and UA-Gate Revisited

-- So the Sun-Sentinel comes out with a new column called "Living With Rules," by Daniel Vasquez. The maiden headline: "Rules can be a burden, but they may be sorely needed."

How can you not read that? Talk about deep and provocative!

It looks like an extension of good ol' Joe Kollin's condo blog, which was killed when he accepted a buyout in the latest employee massacre at the newspaper. It's a Wednesday column wherein Vazquez promises that, "Together we'll tackle tough issues, find answers and have some fun along the way. After all, when you have to live with rules, the challenge is learning to make it work for you -- and your neighbors. When that happens, the sun just seems to shine just a little bit brighter on your porch, and mine."

I wonder if this isn't some diabolical plan to induce mass suicide, because if that passage doesn't make you want to eat a gun, I don't know what will.

-- In another sign of the primacy of the Internet over the print edition, Jose Lambiet's gossip column in the Palm Beach Post is now Internet first, newspaper second. By that I mean what shows up in the print edition is a "best of" version of what he's already put up on the Internet, in what is now called "Page Two Live." I asked Lambiet about it and he told me, "It's the future."

That's a fact and the move makes all the sense in the world -- but it's still sort of sad that it makes the printed newspaper that much more of a warmed-over has-been.

-- And finally on UA-Gate, it still seems pretty clear to me that the Sun-Sentinel's only sin was not having a date on the old story and that they bear less responsibility than the other parties (Google and Bloomberg among them) for the stock's crash on Monday.

But a big mystery still remains: How did the old story get on the most-viewed links on the business page? Some see a possible conspiracy involving those who wanted to bring down United Airlines, clicking away in the wee hours of a Sunday morning. I'm not buying that one -- though I'm sure future attempts will be made in this regard after what happened with the airline stock. .

The Wall Street Journal posits a theory:

"Amid serious storms in Florida and on the East Coast, Web surfers checking for news about travel delays may have stumbled onto the old UAL story by mistake, and a small number of fresh hits may have been enough to drive it onto the list. A Tribune spokesman declined to say how many hits the article received but said there was no indication of fraud."

However it happened, there is still a mystery: How did the damn story ever get to be searchable by the public at large. Though the Tribune company claimed the story was always available, their stories generally aren't searchable on their site or on any search engine after 30 days. You have to look them up in the archives, which is a whole different animal -- and the story in question wasn't born of that animal. As the commenter called "mjkbk" points out, the UA bankruptcy story had to have been "freed up" for general consumption.

But another commenter provides this explanation:

"The second method of archiving on is simply not deleting stories from the content management system. As you may know, most stories on are deleted after two weeks, but the expiration date can be extended indefinitely if a producer thinks the story might be interesting in the future. In this case, a Chicago Tribune producer probably decided back in 2002 that the bankruptcy story shouldn't be deleted in two weeks and extended the expiration date.

And, as some one pointed out, at midnight on Saturday, it probably took two page views to make the story into the Most Popular Business story on the site."

Yes and the views might have come from people wondering about flights in and out of the airport as the hurricane approached.

Well look at us. Together we've tackled tough issues, found answers and had some fun along the way. Shine bright sun, shine.

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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