These days, you can't listen to an episode of Morning Edition
without hearing how traditional media outlets need to innovate to keep up with their ever-evolving audience.
As is generally the case, I have the solution: CONTEST! It worked for the back page of The New Yorker
, and lucky winners on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me
can get Carl Kasell's voice on their answering machine1
, so it can definitely work for an outlet like the Post
Here's what I propose- have someone on staff write a plausible but bogus news story every day, then hide it in the paper. Then select a winner and give them a prize, like one of Maureen Dowd's pubic hairs or a rare, first edition, framed apology from Bob Woodward
. Sometimes I think this is already going down- if not for the corroboration between different sources, I'd put down some decent cash that the story of Princess Hansen
is a hoax.
A couple of years ago, Princess and her friend, Timika Holiday, saw their dealer shoot another guy trying to score some dippers
on the cheap.The girls became prime witnesses for the prosecution, which is apparently kind of dangerous when you hang out in the kind of circles where you readily know where to buy dippers at 2 in the morning. In these circles you ostensibly have protection. "Princess wouldn't tell [the cops] anything, though, except her reason not to be afraid. 'I have the best pussy in Sursum Corda,' he recounted her saying." Clearly good pussy doesn't have the same cachet it used to, since Princess was murdered, too. Tell me you wouldn't call shenanigans on the City Pages
if you didn't see this story elsewhere.
As an alternative to a phony story contest, we could have a contest to decide which outlet tells the better story. For example, let's stick with the same story. Here's the Post's
paragraph describing Princess Hanson's purported protection: "At one point, not long before she was killed, she even boasted that her prowess was her ultimate protection."
wishy-washy summary of a witness substituting the word "prowess" simply canNOT
compare to an quote in which the witness actually talks about her pussy. The City Paper
definitely has a more Law and Order
description of the events.
Holiday had been facing the stairwell door. Now she saw a black boot beneath it. The cops? The door opened, she later testified. It was Ward again, reaching into his coat. He looked hard at Princess, as if to say, 'Get out of the way.' Then he drew and fired. Evans yelled, Smith fired back, and Holiday ran past the smoking gun into the stairs.
Later, as the crime scene technicians combed the floor for shell casings, with Evans dead under a sheet, Detective Willie Jefferson met Holiday in the lobby six floors down. She was whining; she was nervous; she was scared. She'd seen the whole thing. She and Princess.
OOOOOOH, sentence fragments! You can almost hear the Guh-GUNK
of Dick Wolf's gong- always
But ultimately, the Post
, not withstanding melba toast summaries and "journalistic 2
" tone, wins out for one reason: they published their story later, and so have more juicy tidbits.A key government witness, despite his residence in a supposedly secure D.C. jail, turned out to have been high on marijuana when he showed up to testify, prompting an unsuccessful defense effort to strike the man's testimony. Judyann Hansen, the victim's mother, drew the judge's attention after she followed a juror home one day after court and introduced herself. Nothing more apparently was said.
And then there was the juror with the interest in numerology. Soon after deliberations began, the woman started talking to her fellow jurors about birth dates and names and colors and the significance of each in predicting the outcome of the case.
Oh yeah, they had a verdict, too, which makes it a sort of legitimate news story. But I don't think that should be taken into account when it comes to getting anything from Maureen Down or Bob Woodward.1
People stil have those!?!?!?2