Columnist almost bites the hand that feeds him

What better way to start off the New Year than to vent my rage at the mass media, the arena in which I have lived and supported myself nigh on these 40 or 50 years or so?

Happily, my present media home, the highly-regarded, well-loved and expertly edited Lakeville Journal, is exempt from the following a cappella folderol. With apologies to Dave L., the late night show for insomniacs, I have, for the moment, 10 complaints:

BIMBOS - Any newspaper, radio or television station that publishes or airs one more word about Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith and the other female wannabe performers should be firebombed.

INSULTING CAPTIONS - When President Bush is standing between two black African leaders, it is NOT necessary, in the caption to write, "President Bush, center." Trust me, I can tell which one is our fearless leader.

UNRETURNED CALLS - It is not necessary, nay, it should be against the law in legal cases, for the reporters to write, "Calls to the attorneys (or the litigants) were not immediately answered or returned." Lawyers DON'T talk about pending, high-profile cases. If they do, they should be disbarred.

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MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS - No member of the media should be allowed to report on "breakthroughs" in the treatment of breast and/or prostate cancer, if they then conclude the medicine won't be ready for treating the public for 10 years.

HALLIBURTON - Once a month ALL media should report on how much Halliburton and the other larcenous contractors that have been hired to rebuild Iraq, even as we continue to destroy it, have pocketed in profits the past five years.

MOVIE OPENINGS - I don't give a fig if an American movie opens in London, Paris, Milan or Slovenia. Big deal. Save the space for real news, like breakthroughs in cancer treatment. (See previous entry above.)

IN DEPTH - No TV anchor should be allowed to call a 30-second sound bite, an "In Depth Report." Thirty lashes or keel hauling.

NEWSMAKER INTERVIEWS - Ditto for the Lehrer News Report. It's my favorite TV news program, but its newsmaker interviews are too damn long, and the reporter keeps repeating the question, with a couple of words changed, ad nauseam. Interviews with secretaries of state, particularly, either send me to the loo or into a deep sleep. The otherwise very capable Warren Christopher, who had a dazzling resume, easily was one of the most boring speakers of the millennium.

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ROBERT NOVAK - Someone explain to me why this pesky old commentator wasn't tarred and feathered after he broke all the rules of security when he broke the cover of Valerie Plane, a loyal and valuable covert CIA agent.

EASY RECIPES - I love cooking shows but I throw pots and pan around the kitchen and split chopping boards in half with my Chinese cleaver when a cooking show host or hostess announces he/she is going to prepare an EASY recipe. And then it contains 10 plus items, and I only have half the ingredients in my already overstuffed cupboard. Further, the entrée has to be marinated overnight in the ice box (that would be the refrigerator) in a marinade that includes thin slices of pure ginger, mandolin slices of truffles extracted from the ground in France by authentic pigs, a pinch of authentic saffron from Kashmir and pure vanilla extract scraped from vanilla beans grown in Tahiti.

So, there you have it. I wager I could summon up a half-dozen more complaints if my back didn't hurt so much from sitting in front of the tube or curled up with a newspaper or magazine.

Oh, I do have one more MAJOR, and I mean MAJOR complaint: We've had enough and we aren't going to take it any more. The news media must return to its original mission: Dispense the news with seasoned reporters and reasonable commentators. In this year 2008, too much of the media have become vehicles of no-sense entertainment.


Freelancer Barnett Laschever has spent most of his life as a travel writer. He is co-author with Andi Marie Cantele of "Connecticut, An Explorer's Guide," now being updated for its seventh edition.

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