On the Sun-Sentinel's front page yesterday was a story about how your backyard pool might just be out to get you. "IS YOUR POOL A HEALTH HAZARD?" The answer, of course, is almost surely not, but the Help Team couldn't help but ask. And no backyard pool scare story would be worth its salt without a tip box. The Sentinel, in what is sure to be an all-time classic, included this instruction to readers: "Don't swim when you have diarrhea."
Why stop there with the advice for diarrhea sufferers, Sentinel? How about a follow-up piece headlined: "Diarrhea: The Do's and Don'ts." You know, it can include some Help Team hints like, "Do: Stay within 50 yards of a bathroom or, failing that, a suitable hole in the ground," and "Don't: Go dancing with your best girl." As a public service, I urge Pulp readers to send suggestions.
In other news, my old buddy (and former Florida U.S. Senate candidate) Andy Martin finally made it to the big time -- a slam job on him appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Authored by Jim Rutenberg, it was a well-deserved slam, of course, since Martin is quite obviously crazy as a bat and has been making increasingly strange and false accusations about his nemesis, Barack Obama. For more on mad Martin read this about his failed "missions" to capture Saddam in Baghdad and this on his Obama obsession.
Oh, and we have a new piece from John de Groot that skewers the Sun-Sentinel (c'mon, seriously, we haven't had enough of that recently; it's a Pulp staple, after all). And I'm happy to report that it continues this post's fecal theme Enjoy (and follow the jump):
Soylent Green Journalism
By John de Groot
Like a fat, brown turd floating in the bridal punch bowel, the disparity between the journalism as practiced by the Miami Herald versus the South Florida Sun-Sentinel cries out for comment.
Thus, gentle reader, I call your thoughtful attention to the two newspapers’ Sunday coverage of the health reform plans proposed by John McCain and Barak Obama.
First the graphics that anchor the two “packages” on the Editorial section covers of each newspaper:
- The Herald features a couple huddled under a leaking umbrella, it’s handled based on the design of the ancient Greek’s two snakes entwined around a
staff symbolizing health care.
- Although more colorful, the Sentinel’s art [Couldn't find a link for the story on the Sentinel site] consisted of giant red and blue pills photographed out of focus.
Then there’s the simple matter of presentation by the two newspapers:.
- The Herald’s John Dorschner chose a magazine style approach for his coverage of the two candidates’ health care proposals
- While the Sun-Sentinel’s Bob LaMendola opted for copy blocks similar to the directions on a package of an over-the-counter drug.
So much for style.
Then, since most journalism usually involves flesh and blood people as sources, we find:
- The Herald interviewed 16 named sources for his story.
- While the Sentinel interviewed two named living sources – choosing to go with anonymous “Health-care analysts” commenting on the merits and flaws of the candidates’ diverse health care proposals.
At the tail end of his “package,” the Sentinel gave its readers the internet addresses and phone for the two candidates’ campaign headquarters – plus the internet sites and phone numbers for six national health care think tanks where the Sentinel's anonymous “Health-care analysts” presumably work.
So much for live sources versus institutions.
Which brings us to the story-telling dynamics involved in the old cliché “show-me-don’t-tell me.”
Here, Dorschner's use of two patients’ real life experiences as victims of America’s vaunted health care, system, enables the Herald writer to SHOW his readers the frightening “stakes” involved in the issue.
The Sentinel, however, merely TELLS readers how “the problems with America ’s health care system are easy to see” before dishing up a fat paragraphs’ worth of people-less statistics.
Summing it up….
In covering the same complex issue, the two newspapers have offered up a textbook example of what I call the Soylent Green Syndrome in their packaging of the McCain and Obama health care platformsl.
Hopefully, the older among you may recall the classic sci-fi flick set in a future where earth has run out of food – forcing the planetary government to feed the world’s starving masses a nutrient-packed substance called Soylent Green (also the name of the picture).
Naturally, much of the movie concerns the star Charlton Heston’s manly efforts to learn what the fuck’s in Soylent Green – because the government says it’s like the secret spices in Kentucky Fried Chicken and so there’s nothing to worry about.
As Heston finally discovers to his screaming horror at the end of the picture, there’s a major shitload to worry about when it comes to Soylent Green because….
“SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!!” as the anguished Heston howls after his sweet and gentle friend Edward G. Robinson died and became a Soylent Green Family Meal.
Which brings us to the Soylent Green Syndrome at work at the Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel
Well because, gentle reader, there are two kinds of journalists in the world:
One - Those who understand it’s all about people.
Two - Those who don’t.
What’s more, these two radically different breeds of journalists invariably reveal their understanding of the role flesh-and-blood people play in the news – as opposed to cold numbers, hard facts, bold graphics and designer type..
All of which suggests the Sun-Sentinel could do well to hire an actor to race through the newsroom several times a day screaming:
JOURNALISM IS PEOPLE!!!!
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JOURNALISM IS PEOPLE!!!
JOURNALISM IS PEOPLE!!!
Until somebody finally gets it.
Or the newspaper continues to shrink unto death...