The Irrelevance of Sunday's Lead, Front-Page News
I always start with the front page, a quick perusal and shuffle through that section and move on to browse indiscriminately back and forth between nation and world news, the op-eds, news about the Giants and the book reviews. This morning, the front page gives me pause. Not because it bears such horrible news, or noteworthy news, but for its complete irrelevance.
The front page of the Sunday SF Chron sports a two-column, top-half page spread with pictures and text which sports the headline: BUSH KEEPS SF AT BAY. This is the lead article of the front page. It's continued on page A10. Marc Sandalow, the Chron's Washington Chief Bureau, writes about the different reasons and the significance of Bush's boycott of the Bay Area. But so what? Who cares? Why is this article the dominant article on the front page? Granted, it's interesting - Sandalow gives a little history and statistical perspective (every president beginning with Rutherford Hayes in 1880 has visited San Francisco, except W. and hey, I always love the tale about Warren G. Harding dying at the Palace Hotel - it's wonderful San Francisco lore), but this is not news, and what Sandalow has offered here isn't even worthy analysis and commentary. Ok, we get a little analysis - Sandalow tells us that "it says something about the evolution of San Francisco or the inclinations of the current president, or perhaps both" that Bush's no-visit policy "is regarded as common sense." Sandalow doesn't go to much depth explaining just exactly what THAT says about SF or Bush.
So this article is old hat and rides on the surface, yet it's on the front page taking up more space than the news analysis article next to it: The Iranian factor in Iraq insurgency (and note that this headline ISN'T in all caps).
And browsing through this section, I see plenty of articles far more worthy of the lead place on the front page than Sandalow's well-written but meaningless and irrelevant report of Bush's absence in San Francisco (hello! duh! We all know he hasn't visited us; we all know he ain't gonna, and quite frankly, I don't think we care! If he were to visit, protestors would just be shuffled off to a "Free Speech Zone" - Orwell is digging that from the grave (yeah, bad pun intended) - and tie up traffic on the bridges and freeways and major city streets - who needs Bush to visit? There'd be no substantive talk anyway, from Bush, from the Dems, from protesting organizations - just platitudes and propaganda - let's skip the whole thing, thank you very much! Of course, a substantive piece on THOSE issues - now that might interesting! - but I digress). Pages A2&3 respectively have articles reporting on base closings and the influence of terror cells in Afghanistan. Page A8 has an article about the Army's potential plan to keep the soldiers currently in Iraq for four more years (hey! I'd like to see that on the front page!). But we get a used-up piece about Bush not visiting us. Yeah. Love this coverage.
Yet online the first article listed is Bomb Kills 4 Soldiers and you have to scroll down to find the article about Bush and his reluctance/repugnance to visit SF. What gives? Are Internet readers more demanding than hard-copy readers? Where an article shows up is an editorial decision - why the different choices from online to hard-copy? Is the audience different?
Well, the heck with this. Time to read the book reviews and the article about Felipe Alou in the sporting section.