Sunday, October 21, 2007

How about 'green' vomit?

For the Sunday evening news meeting, I'm going to try to follow my long-ago seminar advice and lead with "what worked" in this morning's paper.

First, Danny Westneat, who is by orders of magnitude the best columnist in Seattle -- any paper, any section -- wrote a smart, slightly crabby piece today about the hollowness of most public apologies. Prime examples were the repeated but vacant mea culpas by our local drunk-driving public officials. As Danny points out, they keep apologizing but simultaneously denying that they did anything wrong! What kind of sense does that make?

I also liked the real estate centerpiece today, a nicely written first-person feature about the hazards of "scope creep" when undertaking a home improvement project. Too much home-section coverage feels like advertising; this was cool, reasonable, believable advice (although it did make me dream about a billiards room in a spiffed-up basement).

On the front page, the Seattle Times had a pretty good overview of a local transportation tax pacakge on next month's ballot that seems so outrageously expensive I might register to vote. This is a type of story the Times has always done well and the P-I, I'm sorry to say, has never mastered. The full-page graphic, while a lot to take in, also was quite informative.

And on the features front, I really liked Mark Rahner's interview with Jonathan Wolken, founder of Pilobolus Dance Theatre, the troupe known for its astonishing, gravity-defying tableaux of dancers. Rahner doesn't know anything about dance, or at least pretends not to, so his interview is appealingly pedestrian and (therefore) incredibly interesting. It proved to me -- again -- that papers of this size could save money and space by axing classical arts critics.

A sample of Rahner's touch:

Q: What goes through your mind when your face is in someone's package for a pose?
A: Uh, not a lot. (Laughs.) What goes through your mind?
Q: What goes through my mind is: Anything for art.
A: Well, write that down.
Q: Explain your "unique weight-sharing approach" to dance. Is it in any way related to Kirstie Alley?

Nice.

So all that's good. But elsewise, the Sunday paper was pretty thin.

On almost every section front, I noticed, the centerpiece or at least one other story was written by a freelancer (including that remodeling story I liked) or culled from the wires. Maybe that's a reflection of the hard financial realities in the business these days, or maybe you go with your best stuff and it was just one of those weeks. But I suspect little pockets of underperformance and possibly a planning vacuum over there at Fairview and John.

Also, a note to Steve Kelley, columnizing about the University of Washington's giant football loss yesterday to the University of Oregon: No, there is no "Husky Nation" hungering for a victory over the Ducks. Baseball's "Red Sox Nation," to which this alludes, may be real. But given all the WSU "Cougs" around here, even "Husky State" would be a gross overstatement. Husky County, maybe. Keep it real, dude.

Finally, a grumpy shout-out of contempt for the local-section feature on the local mom who wants to take the candy out of Halloween. Fine, if that's your thing, but what makes me sick is the decision -- emphasized by the writer and editor -- to jump on the fad of the moment and call this a "Green Halloween" movement.

Please. If everyone wants to be so "green" you can stop chopping down trees to print this recycling-bin bait.

1 comment:

mich said...

I meant to do a Sunday critique for your blog, but now I see I didn't need to feel bad for slacking. You nailed every point I would have made. Great minds...

I was busy figuring out my Halloween costume (we're having our party). I'm going as a drunk-jailbird-politician. And I won't be apologizing to anyone.