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Tuesday, September 10, 2002

News Not Fit to Print

Matt Welch takes on the monopolist snobs against USA Today, which the snobs compare to Fox News. Matt says, of USA Today,

That terrific "News Across the USA" page (or whatever it's called), where each state gets a one-paragraph nugget of news, of which 27% turn out to be bizarre and hilarious (we used to read that to each other drunk in Prague, and we'd laugh and laugh).

In mid-August last year I was finally able to get cable in Sydney, and it came with Fox News (because the cable company, Foxtel, is partly owned by Fox). I deny Fox's claim that it is "fair and balanced" ("and unafraid" --- bleah) but, damn, it was good to see a blatant, unembarrassed pro-American sentiment.

But better was their "Fox Watch Across America", a minute or so of little news snippets from across the country: A ceremony at the White House, a protest in New York, a flood in Florida, a standoff in Ohio, a tornado in Oklahoma, a police chase in Los Angeles, and to cap it off, here's a shot of cute baby duckies following their mother across the street.

I don't know if it was just my imagination (and viewing habits---I was never home for the evening news broadcasts), or if it's the Australian media, or if it's really true, but Australia seems like a place where nothing happens. The newspapers confined themselves to sour analysis and accounts of domestic political backbiting, balanced by chirpy lifestyles segments, and sports. Actual non-governmental events got skimpy coverage. The TV news that I was able to watch gave out little lumps of event---very often only international events---coverage and then went straight to sports.

In fact, the only thing in Australia that seemed to rate zealous reporting and intense analysis was the internal machinations of the various political parties, and sports.

Of course, the US has fourteen times the population of Australia, so I suppose statistically speaking the amount of stuff Americans get up to in a day takes Australians two weeks to pull off.

I had missed having things happen. I remember thinking, early last September, that I was so glad to get these newscasts, and that whatever else you could say about the US, there was never a dull moment, there was always something happening.

And then it was the eleventh.