You return from a couple of weeks in the Bay Area, you expect to have a lot of catching up to do on the news of the day. But sheesh, after a daily diet of oil-spill scandal, Barry Bonds indictment, gas prices passing $4 a gallon and real estate tanking in the one place you’d think was recession-proof (besides Seattle)…well, coming back home is a little like leaving a Quentin Tarantino premiere party for an evening with the Cleavers.
So let’s see…a local former high-school basketball star turns up dead in Brazil. Coming home in the middle of this I was trying hard, reading the updates, to figure out who Tony Harris even was, let alone how he wound up in Brazil, and what in God’s name had happened to him. I do happen to know, however, who his former coach is, and his name is not spelled Al Hairstone, as Q13 had it. Finally, The Times ran a pretty good overview, apparently from a freelancer. I’m still not sure why this is such big news. I guess the answer is, bigger news just ain’t there. Or it ain’t being reported.
I mean, if we want to talk former basketball stars, I found it interesting that John Johnson, or JJ to the many Sonics fans who remember him as one of the best passing forwards basketball has ever produced (at a time when the competition was stiff, what with Larry Bird, Rick Barry, Bill Walton, Magic and other purveyors of that fine art among JJ’s contemporaries)…now where was I? Oh yeah. It turns out JJ was robbed in Redwood City, and it made pretty big news in the peninsula dailies. Robbed by a 74-year-old man, apparently, and robbed of his 1979 championship ring! O the pain, the outrage, the embarrassment! But not a word in the Seattle dailies, from what I can tell using their admittedly lame Web search engines (other than some random forum mention). I mean, you don’t call this news?
Then there’s the case involving, from what I can tell, a UW student who is somehow entangled in the murder of a British college student in central Italy. Whew, can someone do an org chart on this story? Again, I’m not sure what places this convoluted tale, sordid though it be, in the realm of headline buster. Maybe when it’s all investigated and tried it will make a good True Crime report, but without more details right now it’s hard for me to know why I should care. My suspicion is that TV coverage drives the print “make good” factor on stuff like this. I remember when it was all just the opposite.
Then there’s the Fun Forest. Guess it’s time for the old arcade to head off to that great amusement park in the sky. Many fond memories there. But none of them even remotely recent, of course; and there you have the whole problem in a nutshell.
Oh well. At least I was spared even a passing mention of the David Copperfield-aspiring model nastiness in the Bay Area news media.
One measure of how truly significant a piece of news is has to do with its geographic reach. From what I gather, Barry Bonds was a big story up here. The oil spill got a few mentions, too. And California gas prices, outrageous as they are, probably popped into the roundups. As far as the Bay Area’s housing collapse, that probably didn’t get much play up here. We’re not there yet, folks, and let’s hope we don’t get there. Except for the tony legacy neighborhoods (Marin County, S.F. proper), it’s a real meltdown in the making. Of course, down there The Chron doesn’t sugar-coat. The bare hungry cryin’ truth, with corroborating stats, is all laid out. By comparison, the Seattle dailies are kind of tiptoeing around, from what I can tell. At street level here, I’m starting to hear the ugly stories of defaults and flips gone bad and, worst of all, overbuilding in a time of real-estate downturn. When already-constructed condos aren’t moving, why is DPD still rubber-stamping every townhouse and hi-rise development coming in through the door? There’s a real-estate story I’d read.
But somehow, I still expect the next Seattle headline I see on the subject to read, “Housing market showing growth despite national trend.”
In any case, getting back to my original point (two weeks away perhaps has given me a mild bout of blogorrhea)…Cali headlines made it all the way to Seattle, but I have to say I cannot recall a single Seattle headline making it down to the Bay Area. Even the sensational, and sensationally covered, FCC hearing on media consolidation failed to raise a 2/18bi (ancient newsie talk for filler). So perhaps our mild, gray climate bespeaks a certain news temperament as well. Or maybe it’s that our news outlets are failing to find and report the real good stuff. A wise editor once told me a reporter’s job was to “tell me what happened, and make me care.” It’s so much easier to just leave off that second part.