Tales from the crypt

For all the gnashing of artificially whitened teeth over the sale of the Journal to the Anti-Zenger, though, no one seems to be commenting on the precipitous slide of two other hometown papers. The Daily News — where the writing has gotten so relentlessly slipshod that “perpetrator” has now become “sleazeball” in crime stories — has pretty much thrown in the paper towel on food on Sundays, running nothing but text-free book and magazine excerpts that are guaranteed to make a paying reader wonder why she needs the Internets. (Oh. Right. Content is free.) And the Pretentious Broadsheet? It appears to be trying to out-Rupe Murdoch. I mean, really. If your best anecdote has to be a couple of years old, does your feature qualify as a news story? Or are you just trying to tantalize enough to drive up web traffic? For a newspaper obsessed with every perfumed passing of Papiere-Riche gas, it seems oddly unable to deliver examples of how those overpaid boors really behave. I still remember horrific behavior at Montrachet right before the 1987 crash; assholes are always in ascendancy in places of ostentatious consumption in boom times. But as far as I read, this was one big yawn laced with urban legends. And as someone who has been in newspapers since high school in the Mimeograph Era, I’m not bitter so much as sad. Once upon a time you needed three examples to validate a trend story. Now you may think all you need is the first three letters in titillation, but somehow I suspect there’s a certain sly old fox who will always beat you at his unsavory game.

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