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?


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.