Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Papers of April

I was sorry to read Rubén Rosario's column in the Pioneer Press today, telling his readers that he's been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I figured when I read the headline, Cancer: Now It's My Story to Tell, that it wasn't good news. I hope his chemotherapy is successful and that he's able to keep writing throughout treatment (and remission!). He says he is looking forward to a few things:

I want badly to return to work. I'm like a caged animal if home for too long.

I want to find out exactly how good my insurance plan really is.

I'm now a member of a club I never wanted to belong to, but I'm curious who the other members are, what the dues are and whether I can provide support.
Odd as it might be to say, I look forward to hearing his perspectives on his experience as a member of the cancer club.

Update: David Brauer's profile of Rosario over at MinnPost.

I am addicted to reading letters to the editor, I admit it. The PiPress's letters interest me less than the Strib's, for some reason I've never been able to analyze. Maybe because the Strib runs more of them? Or maybe because it seems like only crazy right-wingers write to the PiPress, while the Strib presents a bit more range.

Today's Strib, though, contained one of those letters that defies any understanding of the editor's intention in selecting it. Rosemarie Mitchell of Duluth wrote:
I first heard of autism in the 1980s when only a handful of children had that diagnosis. Less than 10 years ago, autism affected 1 in 250 children. Now it's 1 in 110. Why isn't there an outrage about the rapid increase?

What's changed since the 1980s? Here are a few things:

1. New vaccines are given -- sometimes as many as nine to infants.

2. There are more chemicals in our food.

3. Room deodorants, scented candles and similar products impact our systems negatively.

4. Parents take more medication, especially antidepressants.

I would gather information on autistic children and seek a common denominator. We need to find the cause. This is an emergency!
The logical fallacies and regurgitation of mindless anti-vaccine drivel are bad enough, but the letter isn't even closely related to the topic it addresses: the Strib's recent series of articles on Medicaid payments for behavioral treatment of autism.

The April 1 PiPress included a graphic in the top left of the front page that still has me scratching my head. Was it misprint? Or am I not seeing the obvious? Maybe an April Fool's joke I am too thick to understand?

Weird pink, fuzzy stripes, kind of like claw marks? at the top of the front page

Close up of the fuzzy pink stripes
What the heck is that supposed to be?

Newspaper story with headline Charges: Kids were whipped for TV changeDid you hear the one about the Roseville dad who whipped his kids for changing the channel away from a Christian television network?


Here it is, then.


Once in a while, there's a story that's so important, it leads both the PiPress and the Strib to run similar front pages above the fold.

On some of those occasions, they even have the same or very similar photos. This is understandable if it's from a distant event, relying on wire photos.

But when the Twins baseball team has a photo op, isn't it reasonable to think the photographers from the two local papers could stand somewhere other than right next to each other, so that they might have a chance of coming up with unique shots?

Front page of Star Tribune with photo of young boy reaching toward baseball player

Front page of Pioneer Press with photo of young boy reaching toward baseball player
There are some interesting differences between the two images, though. The Strib's Brian Peterson captured the background crowd and ballpark environment; the feeling of being in a crowd. The PiPress's Ben Garvin's shot is at a more interesting angle, and focuses more on the main action of the child "flying" out to reach for the ball.

You know how I love advertising, and prescription drug ads particularly. A few days ago a full-page ad for Zetia ran in both papers. It's a new drug that lowers cholesterol by preventing absorption in the intestine, rather than working in the liver as the statin drugs do.

Full page Zetia ad with small oval illustrations
I give the ad points for not showing happy, late-Boomer models looking healthy. Instead, it's composed like a children's science textbook, and written and illustrated at a similar level.

Closeup of one illustration showing food in the intestine
First is this image of the digestive tract, showing tiny little whole chickens, steaks and sandwiches floating through the intestine.

Another illustration with green-walled intestine and yellow globs in middle
Then there's this simplistic image showing the green Zetia barrier, preventing the oogy yellow cholesterol from getting at the walls of your intestine.

But worse (or better?) is the accompanying caption, which says that in all honesty "Unlike some statins, ZETIA has not been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attacks."

Um. Then why would you want to take it? And if you asked your doctor, as the ad next suggests, why would s/he think Zetia "is right for you" if it doesn't prevent heart disease or heart attacks?

In the Op-Ed section, former Strib business writer Mike Meyers had a tight refutation of all the arguments for public support of a new Vikings stadium. As I wrote about a year ago, the subsidy needed amounts to $64 per seat per home game for 30 years.

Let the folks who want to see a game in a new stadium pay the extra markup. How hard is that?

1 comment:

David Steinlicht said...

D#3, Not that it really helps, but the graphic image for the "No more Mr. Nice Guy" teaser on the Pioneer Press cover is a close up of the stitches on a baseball. It might have been more obvious without the advertising sticker covering the other half of the image. Then again, maybe not. Anyway, front page designers never take in to account the advertising stickers. After all the work that editors and designers do for the front page, the person who gets the last word is the person who runs the machine that attaches the advertising sticker.