Friday, July 25, 2008

They Must Have Thought Their Readers Wanted to Veg Out

Ronald Reagan is reputed to have once said, "If you've seen one Redwood tree you've seen 'em all." While the merit of that statement is highly dubious, the News-Press proved Thursday that, at least in the case of broccoli, it's indisputably true.

Three separate photos of the antioxidant-rich vegetable graced the front page of Thursday's News-Press.

I guess this officially puts the photographers who took these pictures into the category of "stalkarazzi."

The photos accompanied a page one article, three columns wide, no less, that compared the prices of "organic and conventionally grown broccoli at a farmers' market, a supermarket and a natural food store to see how the pricing situation was shaping up."

I must admit, while I've been keenly interested in the fluctuating prices of gasoline, I've never ever lost a moment of sleep over the cost of broccoli.

Despite being as packed with as many statistics as the vegetable itself is packed with nutrients, the article somehow managed to leave this reader unfulfilled.

What's next for the News-Press front page? An investigative report into where's the best place to score ranch dressing?

* * *

In her column yesterday, Dr. Laura asserted that local bloggers "consistently portray the News-Press in a negative light."

Let me think about that one. What is there to be positive about when it comes to the News-Press? The layoff of nearly a dozen employees back on May 1st, all without any warning or any type of severance package? A sports section that most days consists of only four pages and is filled mostly with wire stories? Mean-spirited editorials and op-ed page columns from Travis Armstrong?

Well, fewer trees are cut down in order to produce the paper as of late. That's positive!

The good doctor lauds the News-Press for expanding onto the web and using Internet video to "mobilize the rapid growth of Web readership."

"Mobilize?" With a website that is locked down tighter than Joan River's mug after her last face lift, readers will be on the move all right. They're heading for sites that will give them access to local news without requiring a subscription, even in an emergency.

* * *

Is there a lesson to be learned here? By now you've heard about the massive layoffs at the L.A. Times with 150 newsroom people being let go. One of them, photographer Bob Carey, had this to say:

Zell invented the financial quicksand we’re in at the moment, but our circulation loss is a self-inflicted wound: we stopped covering Southern California....

A lot of people around here, including me, would say the same is true of the News-Press when it comes to Santa Barbara.

You can read what Carey has to say in its entirety over at L.A. Observed.