I weep for thee papers

Tonight at 11: The government is actually paying your child's teacher a SALARY. Our I-Team reporters find out WHY.

The image above, from the local paper’s website, pisses me off. But seeing the following list of “headlines” in the “Lifestyle” section of the same site made me cry. And laugh:

  • Dog left in back of truck at Mass. mall dies
  • Anchorage police: Please don’t tase the bears
  • Military dog comes home from Iraq traumatized
  • Shot-at Ohio dog bites caregivers
  • Puppy tossed from moving van rescued in Ohio

Really? Four of your top five “lifestyle” news stories involve dogs? Incredibly bad things happening to dogs? That’s where we’re at now?

Local newspapers have such a tough go of it now in the Internet age as their circulation declines and their lifeblood disappears. As a longtime (read: old fart born at 52) fan of newspapers and investigative journalism, it pains me to see what so many local outfits have become. They can’t afford much of the good stuff anymore; they are whores for the click. They are tabloid collectors of the deceptive headline that lures your click. It makes me sad.

But the anger: Every few weeks, our local paper resorts to a no-resource sight gag, a naked ploy for links as seen in the homepage photo above: They dress up access to public records with a big scary headline like, “Find out how much YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER is making.” Which, as the spouse of a teacher who works her ass off for little pay and even less notoriety, offends me to my fucking core*.

*I think the only other time I’ve used that phrase was in reference to Valentine’s Day. So you know I feel strongly about this.

They dress it up like a feature story, when really it’s just a link to a public database, set up perfectly to enrage the Area Man who typically comments on a local newspaper site — which is to say the most intelligence-deficient yet minimally literate members of our society. Dumb parents are dumb parents: They will blame everyone but themselves and their child for their child’s failings, including all that money the gov’ment wastes on giving teachers a living wage.

Drugs Are Bad, Mmmkay

Yesterday their big feature was on a 20-something girl who became addicted to heroin, a drug she started taking in high school, and she is now in jail despite her parents’ best efforts to rehab her. A teacher I know wondered why they chose to feature this girl at this time, in what is part of a long-running drug problem in many high schools which teachers are well aware of.

The cynic in me retorted: “Because she’s, white, blonde, pretty and from an affluent suburb.” Which is true. The paper’s point — it was a benign story, actually — is that heroin may be a problem even in the suburbs. The reality is this problem isn’t new, at all.

But it makes for a front-page feature because there’s a pretty face and because society has pretty much punted the whole urban drug problem into the closet. What the…wait a minute. This is why The Wire tackled the War on Drugs, education, urban decay and the failing news media, isn’t it?

Damn, that’s a good show. Too close to home.

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