The News-Journal was once a good, thick read. It’s a bit more Kate Mossy these days, like almost all local papers. Fewer people buy it, fewer still read it. But it’s still our only local paper, and whatever start-ups and pretenders to media’s throne (like this) do, it’s hard, or should be hard, as Dave Eggers has it, to beat a good paper. Since most of you don’t get the thing anymore, here’s an occasional five-minute summary of what you’re missing, and what may have beaten us to the more important stories of the day in Flagler.
Today’s front page features 11 words of news, a three-line teaser in the lower left column about US and Iraqi forces killing two al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq.
The rest of the page is as undemanding as the bikinied ten-year-old’s picture dominating the center of the page. (It’s a reflex of “family” newspapering that any time you can ape the puerility of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit shtick, you do it. Oddly enough the front page of the sports section features not one but two teenage girls in skin-tight whatevers and with their legs spread. You’d think Rupert Murdoch had taken over the News-Journal. Now don’t run over any old ladies on the way to the rack.)
The lead story today, across five columns? A Volusia County sheriff’s deputy getting bitten by a snake while training in some woods. Strange choice. Deltona’s decision to join Daytona Beach in attempts to constrain the colossal Miami Corporation development (an area larger than Washington DC), below the fold of the local section front, seems more consequential. The rest of the front page features a speculative bit on Crist running as an independent, the story of Stetson’s legally blind Edgar Surris running in the Boston Marathon, and a brief identifying the teenager who carjacked a 70-year-old women with a flair for smackdowns of her own. The rest of the A section is Google-news boilerplate. The editorial page, again shorn of editorials, features a booster column by Rick Fraser, president of the Flager/Volusia branch of the state labor agency (they don’t call it that anymore, given Florida’s distaste for “labor”). The column is forgettable (“Did you know that every Monday morning economic development professionals from Volusia County, education, work force and the municipalities stage a conference call to review and discuss opportunities for new business relocations?” Actually, no, but I’d have been more curious about how often these calls generated more than talk.) Fraser also touts Flagler’s “grass-roots effort, dubbed ‘Hire Flagler,’ to find ways to incentivize employers to hire at least one new employee,” never noting that “Hire Flagler” is the county’s attempt to capitalize on Barack Obama’s stimulus dollars.
One more item of interest in the front section, on the business page: an errant brief about the paper’s new editor, Pat Rice, who officially took over on Monday: “Our driving force will be to publish as much local news as we can in print and online, offering news that readers can’t get anywhere else.” Welcome to the follies.
The Local front is more compelling, with a heartbreaking story on victims of murderous abuse, the preview of a public meeting on the replacement of the Orange Avenue bridge in Daytona Beach, and a cop-beat piece on a 50-year-old man jailed for having sex and impregnating a girl girl who gave birth to a child in 2009, when she was 14.
[Contributors: anyone interested in writing one of these summaries is welcome to send it in at [email protected].]