Sunday, June 2, 2013

No Longer Newsworthy

A syndicated feature in many alternative newspapers for many years was called, "News of the Weird," (NOTW). It featured (as the title suggests) stories detailing freak occurrences or idiotic actions of common folk like you and I. Many considered it a welcome alternative to the mainstream stories which dealt with heads of state, business tycoons, wars or public policy decisions. Sometimes NOTW contained accounts of people caught or somehow trapped in compromising situations (on the toilet, having sex, etc.). Others might include extremely pampered pets, delusional beliefs in aliens leading to odd behavior or freak accidents resulting in deaths, etc.

Every so often the News of the Weird had to retire a certain type of story because it happened enough to make it no longer, "weird." One example was stories about would be crooks who, before holding up a store, would ask for a job application, fill it out and use their real name and address before carrying out the armed robbery. It seems to happened so much that the NOTW had to stop running that kind of story as odd.

Similarly a certain type of event is sometimes reported in the mainstream news with such frequency that it becomes no longer newsworthy. The one that comes most immediately to mind is stories of corruption in municipal governments. How many times have we read about a big city mayor or town council member that has been forced to resign or indicted by authorities for monetary impropriety, bribe-taking or skimming funds, etc.?

It happens so much that it is now found primarily among the news wire briefs rather than the headlines.

I would add to that genre the school test cheating stories that we've seen in recent years. This also relates to municipal governments, but it appears that standardized test cheating by both students, teachers and abetting by higher officials is so common that it barely attracts any attention anymore. 5-10 years ago it was quite a scandal to read about a school district where teachers were helping students or erasing answers on tests but more and more today it attracts little notice.

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