Whose Lifestyle, Anyway?

Gretchen Day-Bryant must have the easiest job in journalism. She's the Sun-Sentinel's Lifestyles section editor and that means she must pick stories about pop culture, shopping, and video games off the wires and pop them onto her pages. Apparently she has also been given a directive to display the resulting morass in the most chaotic manner imaginable.

Look at today's offerings. A giant picture of Kevin Smith (who may be the most overrated director in history -- Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jersey Girl? you have got to be kidding) and an accompanying lightweight article from the Washington Post's Jen Chaney. The peg for the story? Why the release of his two useless Smith DVDs, of course.

The other article on the front page is about a videogame called Marvels Ultimate Alliance. That came from the Chicago Tribune. Then there's a brief about a Twisted Sister X-mas album from Associated Press that raves it is "quite simply the best hard rock Christmas album ever made." You can fill in your own punch line for that one.

Page 2 has its usual lineup of syndicated advice columnists and a child's story promoting literacy. Page 3, well, that's where you get a taste of local reporting. An eight-inch theater review from Jack Zink and something about a ceramics show from freelancer Candice Russell, that also includes a couple of re-written press releases. Tom Jicha also tells us about a TV show on TBS. The rest is all comics and crosswords.

Remember the dream that local newspapers would use the local Lifestyles (or Features, as it's often called) section to let reporters write about the place where the newspaper is actually published? Yeah, it's dead.

After the jump: Honest Services? Riiiiight. A Bit More On That Crazy Cuban Cartoonist. And Charges Come in Boot Camp Death.

-- I neglected to link Jane Musgrave's story on Monday about the federal "Honest Services" statute used to nail former Palm Beach County Commissioner Tony Masilotti. She questions whether the statute is too vague and quotes a defense attorney or two about how, yes, it is. I definitely side with the government on this one. The statute, while it is a bit vague, has been in effect since 1988 and has been a boon to the public and the bane of corrupt officials (including, recently, Jack Abramoff). What's not to like? I also find it interesting that Musgrave didn't cite one case in which a poor politician was abused by overzealous prosecutors. The bottom line is that prosecutors need, as former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis notes, to prove fraud and they need a strong case to do that.

-- Miami New Times' Francisco Alvarado brings us a look at the discourse in the Cuban-American community over cartoonist Jose Varela's siege of the El Nuevo Herald on Friday. Alvarado does this via Cuban radio hosts radio hosts Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos, whose often despicable schtick has been expounded upon before on the Pulp.

-- Right off the presses, seven guards and a nurse have been charged in the boot camp death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson. This never would have happened without great reporting from the Herald's Carol Marbin Miller who coauthors today's report on the arrests with Gary Fineout. Congrats.

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