Archive for the The News Category


Posted in The News with tags , , , , on November 6, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


YESTERDAY, for one day at least, everybody had to have a copy of their newspaper. People waited in long lines to buy them, newsstands ran out of copies early in the morning, and subscribers had their papers stolen from their doorsteps. Everybody had to have a memento from this historic election — proof that it indeed happened, proof that they were there when it happened.

Customers wait outside the Washington Post building Wednesday afternoon for special editions of the newspaper. (Kevin Clark/The Washington Post )

Customers wait outside the Washington Post building Wednesday afternoon for special editions of the newspaper. (Kevin Clark/The Washington Post )

It was a reminder to me of what newspapers mean to people, and of what they really do best — document in words and pictures the history of our world, the history of what happened the day before. They are a daily souvenir of our life. And when our favorite team wins a championship, when the nation is attacked by terrorists, when voters elect their first nonwhite president, we want the hard evidence in the form of a newspaper. DVR’d newscasts and Web printouts won’t do.

Newspapers are the greatest medium for recording this incremental history as it happens, day by day. But, for some reason, the executives running newspapers decided a while back that people already know what happened yesterday and don’t need to read all about it, and that they would rather have a daily crystal ball that tells them what’s gonna happen next. (I’ve written about this upsetting trend before.)

At The Hartford Courant, where I worked for nearly 10 years, we couldn’t write headlines or stories that told people what actually happened. We had to be “forward-looking” and stir up emotions with overblown, melodramatic and preferably alliterative headlines. The argument was that “readers already know what happened by the time the paper comes out, so you have to tell them something new.”

Therefore, “8 Die In Mall Shooting” is an unacceptable headline, but “Mall Massacre” is great, as is “Could It Happen At Your Mall?” I remember the day of the Madrid train bombing in 2004 — another historic day. I wasn’t allowed to write the headline “191 Killed In Train Bombings.” The front-page banner headline we used was “Al-Qaida Or ETA?” Huh? ETA? What did the train’s arrival time have to do with anything? Oh, ETA was a terrorist group suspected in the bombings. So, we went with a screaming question head that told readers little, even if they knew what ETA was. I asked then and I ask now: What is wrong with documenting, for history’s sake, exactly what happened yesterday?

I haven’t seen yesterday’s Courant (I still haven’t looked at a Courant since its redesign), but it wouldn’t surprise me to see a headline like “2012 Campaign Gets Underway” or “Is America Now Ready For A Latino President?”

I remember finding old, yellowed newspapers in a bedroom closet when I was a little boy. I vaguely remember them, but I think they were about Kennedy’s election or his assassination. In any case, they were historical records of historic days, saved by my parents for posterity.

That is what newspapers are to people. Unfortunately for newspaper publishers, every day isn’t as monumental as this Tuesday was. But that’s the cool thing about documenting history — you never know when the next monumental day is coming. Newspapers have to be ready, with the best writers and editors and photographers on hand, because history can happen at any time. And what happened yesterday can really matter to people.



Posted in The News on November 5, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


TODAY, the Real Americans are probably still wondering why so many people have blind faith that one person can miraculously change the world.

They’re probably wondering why so many people believe that this guy with Middle Eastern ties holds the key to their future, and can lead them to a promised land.

The Real Americans are probably wondering why so many people believe in a guy who has befriended sinners and folks of questionable character.

They’re probably wondering why so many people believe he will help care for the sick, and that he will put a spotlight on those left behind.

The Real Americans are probably wondering why so many people believe that this man, often persecuted because he is “different,” will try to bring more peace to the world.

Seriously, who would believe crazy shit like this?


Posted in The News with tags , , , on October 3, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


I HAVE to wave the white flag of surrender and admit that Sarah Palin showed last night why she’s going to become our next vice president in January.

Americans eat up all the things she did in last night’s debate — that doggone folksy talk, the 247 “maverick” references, the shrewd “I’m not gonna answer the questions the way you want” disclaimer. She gave the people exactly what they want, and managed to make Joe Biden look a little old and confused along the way.

Half the time, I couldn’t tell who Biden was talking about — “John” or Obama — and he even mixed up their names at least once. (And did he have to say he “loves” McCain — twice?) He came off like Gore and Kerry in previous debates — just another stiff, know-it-all statistician, the kind of person Americans don’t want to watch on their bigass TV screens.

Tina Fey may do a pitch-perfect portrayal of Palin, but Palin herself is playing a character — and she’s nailing it too. This is a former beauty pageant contestant/TV newscaster we’re talking about — she knows how to make herself likable to judges and demographic groups.

I believe she’s been coached to answer questions as anti-intellectually as possible. I think if she had told Katie Couric she reads the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report, it would have cost her votes. I think she’s been instructed to pronounce it “noo-ku-lar.” I really believe she’s playing us, in both meanings of that phrase.

All Biden had to say was that our country has been hijacked by politicians in over their heads, that our nation has hit rock bottom and needs people of substance and experience to save it from the very real possibility of collapse. That we have to swallow our pride and vote for people who are better than us and not for drinking buddies.

Unfortunately, smarts are a liability in these debates — long, fact-filled answers don’t play well on TV, and they haven’t for a while. Americans would rather see the smart guy get knocked down a peg or two by a quick quip. And by playing to the hilt this character of the fiesty hockey mom with more moxie than brains, Palin is proving she’s the smartest one of all.


Posted in The News with tags , , , , on September 29, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


THE “sleeker, smarter” Hartford Courant hit the stands yesterday (and probably stayed there all day). Having worked at the fatter, dumber Courant for 10 years, I suppose I should have checked it out, but even morbid curiosity couldn’t get me to do so.

Luckily, has a link right at the top of the front page so I could Learn More About The New Hartford Courant. Click and you’re treated to a three-minute promotional piece aired by sister channel Fox 61 (which, like the Courant, is owned by the Tribune Co.) about “The NEW Hartford Courant.” And wouldn’t you know it — they’re really excited about it!

Turns out the NEW Courant is “edgy”! (Too bad “edgy” hasn’t been edgy for about 10 years). I learned that the NEW Courant uses a new font that “really bolds up the design”! Well said!

The NEW Courant is “stacked with fresh new features.” And it will be “easier to read”! The paper’s storied history of “insightful writing and in-depth coverage” will continue! Well, I’m sold!

And so are the Fox 61 anchorbots, who seem particularly excited about the groundbreaking vertical “letterhead.” Best of all, the anchor dude tells us, the weekday papers will have “less pages so the readers can get their news quickly!” Yeah, all those pages of news were really standing in the way of my getting the news.

If you don’t feel like watching the Fox 61 video, you can simply read the accompanying error-filled transcription, which looks more like a copy editing test (if newspapers were still hiring copy editors.)

OK, OK, maybe I’ll check out the new Courant one of these days. I’ll just have to bold myself up first.