Not Necessarily The News, by Mike Gold
I have previously opined my regrets that America’s most reliable newspaper – some might say only reliable newspaper – the Weekly World News, bit the dust. It was a hoot.
Because the New York Post cloaks itself in the shroud of legitimacy, it may very well be America’s most unreliable newspaper. It is the hairy wart on Rupert Murdoch’s considerable media ass, which is saying something. The Post is completely bereft of credibility.
But they’ve got a sense of humor about it, and I’ve got to give them credit. Rupert’s book publishing division Harper Collins came out with a volume reprinting many of the, ahhh, more interesting front pages published in the Post since he bought the staid, boring tabloid and converted it into a daily joke. But at least it’s a good joke.
Entitled Headless Body In Topless Bar, the book was named after what may very well be the most memorable front page headline since Variety’s “Wall Street Lays An Egg.” That one set the standard for both the rag and for journalism itself: rarely has an entire story been reduced to five words. They did that back in 1983 and haven’t beaten it yet.
They reprint over 150 front pages in black and white (most were published in black and white, but the paper went to color several years ago) – from “Crowe Flies” (Russell; get it?) to “Good Noose” (about Saddam’s sentencing), from “Bowling For Palestine” (Arafat’s theft of pro-Palestinian funds) to my second-favorite: “V-D Day!” The sub-head, which does nothing to illuminate the story, is “Paris liberated, bimbos rejoice.” You couldn’t mix that many messages in a blender.
It’s sad that New York journalism has deteriorated to this level. The New York Daily News, never accused of too much respectability (check out their 1928 photo of the first New York woman to die in the electric chair, snapped at the moment the lever was pulled), has tried to sink to the Post’s level. But headlines like “The Evil Has Landed” just don’t cut it.
The New York Times has declined to compete, but they don’t count. The Times is no more a New York newspaper than the Wall Street Journal, and it’s too boring and way too tedious to function as a real newspaper.
As a former journalism major who grew up with the smell of newsprint and the warmth of the hellbox, I am saddened to see the daily newspaper become irrelevant. It wasn’t necessary, and the Post method certainly isn’t the way to success. It loses a bundle.
But at least they’re going out with a smile.
Mike Gold is editor-in-chief of ComicMix.