Boston in USA Today, Today

I was going to make a pastiche of headlines, like “Celtics point at public sector food crisis tension with Obama Squaws”, but I couldn’t make it sound realistic.

Yes, today I was on a business trip, staying at a business hotel, and got my morning business delivery of U Today. That’s USA Today, of course; but the SA is obscured by the ubiquitous business sticker placed there by the hotel staff.

A couple of things struck me about the front page and news section of Today’s USA Today. One is the unusual and unexpected pastiche of stories featured on the front page. The other are the several local references that snuck in throughout the news.

On the cover we have the center page piece about the Egyptian food crisis, with riots over loaves of bread. While this is serious news, the reportage was so dramatic that I was surprised I hadn’t heard much about it before. Admittedly, I rarely read the newspaper, but still, if there regular deaths in riots over food, I thought I would have heard about it somewhere before this.

In other news news, we have public sector hiring, political coverage of Obama dumping his pastor, and a variety of sidebar tidbits. We also have the item about how pressure is mounting to drop the word “squaw” from geographic and other names. While I admit that this could well be seen as a derogatory and offensive word in some circles, I wasn’t quite sure that it was front page news; not at least without some specific event to the story, besides it’s generic coverage of the issue. Did you know there’s a U.S. Board on Geographic Names (Federal), with authority over naming rights, and that they have an Antarctic Committee? I suppose I learned a significant new fact from that.

Still, it was … intellectually disappointing that this was the big news. Generic story on place name changes, and then politics which are merely a politician distancing themselves from something controversial someone else said. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just be respectful with names, and could actually evaluate candidates on who they honestly were?

In any case, I was certainly pleased to see the Celtics, at least to make the appearance, as well as several other local references. They did give a different perspective from an insider’s point of view. For example, our great Commonwealth turns out to be not so great in terms of reporting child deaths from abuse: a D- is a sobering addition to a sobering issue.

But Today’s USA Today believes in the sobriety of our firefighters, in it’s Nationline sidebar about firefighters attending a memorial. I support their hard work and am glad they attended the memorial, but I would have expected the story to mention our local controversy, instead of merely closing with “80 people died in MA due to work-related injuries”. What, a federal probe and the other recent busts doesn’t rate 5 words? We do need our firefighters, since 400 North End customers are still without natural gas, as the per-state news tidbits note.

We also need politicians who are comfortable with themselves. In “The Forum” editorials, an bit about how national governments are using PR firms to combat perceived slights or misquotes by others. The writer points out that this is often seen in countries who have historically uncomfortable governments – who are “candidates uncomfortable in their own skin – sovereign versions of Mitt Romney”. There’s a mouthful, both of truth, as well as a lovely comparison between Mr. Romney and sovereigns, which somehow seems amusing. I know, I know, the only true royalty around here go by the K-name, but it’s all in the attitude of who you think you deserve to be, I guess.

At this point, I just think I deserve to be asleep, so I will apologize, dear reader(s), for not skwering the rest of the nation’s daily paper for you. P.S. Please keep the Pike eastbound clear for Thursday evening’s commute, since I’ll be driving home, and it looks like it’ll be rainy again. Don’t forget: you should probably get out a little early and drive safely in the rain, and remember to leave a little extra time to get home when it’s wet and slippery.

What do you think?