Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What it looks like when newspapers give up

The local newspaper, just in time for March Madness, got the bright idea of having a championship bracket for "the Nebraska-est Nebraska celebrity."

Put aside our culture's idiotic obsession with "celebrity" for a moment. Forget even the apples-vs.-oranges stupidity of pitting William Jennings Bryan and Willa Cather against has-been alt-rockers 311 and "the Maroon 5 guy."

No, consider instead that when you start out with an unserious premise that elevates celebrity over all else, then put it all to a vote by those readers (and given how the voting's gone, "readers" might be too generous a description) who didn't think this was just too dumb to take seriously. . . .  

Well, let's just say you're going to get what you get.

Good and hard.

SO BRYAN and Cather and Malcolm X and Ted Sorensen are s*** out of luck. As are Gerald Ford, Johnny Carson, Fred Astaire and Marlon Brando. And Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne, Bob Gibson and Scientology nutbag L. Ron Hubbard. (Actually, I was counting on Scientologists stuffing the virtual ballot box on this one. I was wrong, alas. The sheer inanity of the Omaha World-Herald exercise must have fried their E-meters.)

Hell, Henry Fonda didn't even make the tournament. "Yours, Mine and Ours" must have totally screwed his RPI. 

Well, either that . . . or this:

NO, facing off for the "the Nebraska-est Nebraska celebrity," we have 311 and investing guru Warren Buffett, whom we all love for having craploads more money than we do. That, friends, is "journalism" today.

Good and hard.

I hope 311 wins. Not only would that be the most absurd outcome possible, but the World-Herald would mercifully be spared having to explain why the boss won.

Between this sort of thing and its steamin'-hot love affair with "charticles," I wouldn't be surprised if some day soon, the hometown daily becomes the first American newspaper to break through the Pictogram Barrier and become wordless altogether.

And to think that we thought in 1982 that USA TODAY was as dumbed-down as newspapering could get. There are none so naive as those who think things can't always get worse.

Huh. Huh-huh-huh.

No comments: