Tuesday, December 18, 2007

National news: Card-stacking and ...

This issue's going to crop up again (assuming national news doesn't actually fall off the radar screen entirely at the Nation's Newspapers, about which more below), so let's try not to repeat the blunder of the St. Pete Times in the 1A hed shown here.

The hed has the slight problem of being untrue. There's a "clash" here to report, but it isn't a clash between theories. It's a clash between theory and doctrine, and when we pretend they're the same thing, we're stacking the deck. And guess which side gets the unfair advantage?

We have here an interesting local manifestation of a significant national dispute. As pickups from Florida papers go, it's notably more relevant to a wider audience than, say, a puff piece from the Orlando Sentinel about the "Vcommunicator" (developed in guess which mouse-infested Florida city):

[T]he hand-held, iPod-based device is loaded with more Middle Eastern voice files than there are songs on a teenager's Nano. It has megabytes full of mission programs -- vehicle checkpoints, interrogations, patrols and raids -- with scores of phrases.

Soldiers can surf the menu, set the language -- Iraqi Arabic, Pashtu or Dari, for example -- tap the mission and click a phrase. The device displays an animated figure that repeats the phrase in accents and is accompanied by gestures that are specific to the culture.

Can't wait to see that in action at your friendly neighborhood roadblock.

Anyway, if you're put in mind of that Texas curriculum official who got sandbagged last month and think that national news is where you ought to be able to keep up with related developments in the Flying Spaghetti Monster culture wars, you're more or less out of luck. Don't get us wrong; there is "national" news out there. The local Foxsters are carrying a pretty detailed Natalee Holloway report even as we speak, and if you're in the mood for some Drew and Stacy or some Steve and Tara, you won't have much trouble finding it. How about this one, though?

Ohio needs to make changes to its election system in time for the presidential election next fall, Gov. Ted Strickland says, even as some county elections officials and others worry it's impossible to do that and still have a smooth election.

My, my, my. That's a state capital daily (nice job by the Dispatch, though it would have been nice to see this one above the fold) quoting the state's chief executive as saying ... what was that again?

"This country has gone through two presidential elections where there have been, I believe, legitimate concerns raised about the fairness and the integrity of those elections," the governor said. "I don't think we should go through a third presidential election and have those questions out there."

Seems we're kind of past the commie-pamphleteer-in-grubby-raincoat stage on this one, doesn't it?

The coverage is there -- at least, the AP's writing about it (and over at Drudge, of all places, you can find some further entertaining ballot-related news from other states). Wouldn't it be nice if wire editors were spending their time on the fun stuff, rather than on the Missing Mom beat?

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