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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

RedEye Criticism

I'm getting a little tired of the constant stream on nonsense being paraded around on the covers of the RedEye newspaper every day. At least once or twice a week, it's a fluff story about some trend in Chicago (or in the U.S., or in life in general) with an accompanying picture of some Chicagoan who falls into the trend. It's got little, if anything, to do with real news - and is accompanied by half a page of statistics about the trend and sometimes a SECOND story wedged in the margin about how the trend relates to ACTUAL news, like maybe a news story where this trend played a role.

Today was no different, as is evident in the two-page spread about some guy who had a vasectomy at age 27 and how many men have vasectomies.

Okay, I'll give them credit that they at least do their research on the trend, providing a doctor's or professional's commentary to supplement the opinion and story of the random person they chose in Chicago who graces the cover and another picture in the article.

In today's case, they supplement the "guy who just never wants to have a kid" opinion with an actual doctor who has an anecdote about some 18-year-old who wanted a vasectomy and the doctor said he was too young and to wait a year and then he came back a year later and the doctor did the procedure. It further goes on to describe the "extreme counseling" that these doctors have to take their prospective clients through before agreeing to do the procedure.

I enjoyed the fact that they mentioned that vasectomies take 15 minutes and cost $1,000 - but that vasectomy reversals take 3-4 hours and cost $10,000 to $25,000 and don't always work. Oh, and a lot of guys who have vasectomies early on tend to wind up getting reversals after a divorce, because most women out there are turned off by the idea of never getting to have kids.

But I digress. My real beef here isn't with the vasectomy article - it's that it's taking up two entire pages in my RedEye today!

I just don't understand how the RedEye decides to go with these stories. Do they work backwards, stumbling upon some new numbers from the U.S. Census or a research study that shows this is the new trend in employment or lifestyles - and THEN create the fluff story around it by tracking down someone picturesque who is a victim/supporter of the trend? Or do they stumble upon some weirdo and jot a couple of notes down and then do the research to find out that person isn't alone and then they go back for the photo shoot and a couple more readable quotations?

I'm half-inclined to just send them my contact information and say "hey, let me know when you plan to do a fluff piece on any of the following things: people who like anime, men who have beards, fat people in Chicago, people in Bridgeport, people who hate PETA, or the idea that we should eat away our pet overpopulation instead of spaying/neutering them."

I can see it now - a dorky photo of me, possibly stroking my beard - with an article about how beards are making a comeback. And they can have statistics like "only 1 in 100 men today are sporting a beard or mustache, but only .005% of the male population can be described as having a 'kick-ass neckbeard'." And they'll take up the entire margin with celebrities who have beards. And they can pose the question, "Are beards in or out? Send us your comments!"

What do you think? Are beards in or out? Do you hate fluff pieces as much as I do? Oh wait, is THIS a fluff piece? Leave us your comments!

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