Totally Makes Up For The “Coffee,” “Empire”
One of the many joys of doing research in the UK is the opportunity to read, in print, some truly delightful newspapers. I don’t know if the UK newspaper industry is doing any better than the America’s (though I suspect so), I do know that their product is always, always much more fun to read.
Whether it’s doing a better job of uncovering corruption and holding political officials feet to the fire, writing grade-A bitchy snark, or printing cute, hopelessly local quirk stories, the London press has you covered.
I think they keep the old spirit of newspapers alive in a way no American publications can touch.
Take, for example, today’s Daily Telegraph. Between the usual (political and business news, tepid conservative op-eds, big pictures of the POTUS with British pols) stories, there was quite a bit on gin (today was sponsored by Gordon’s, bit of an odd choice for a paper called the DT), and even more on weird animals. To wit:
“School votes to kill pet sheep”
(“His meat will be raffled to raise funds to buy pigs, who will be in turn be slaughtered to make sausages”)
“Going strong at 20, dog that’s had most days”
“Ticked pink: Schoolboy finds rare grasshopper”
(“The insect … was discovered by Daniel Tate, 11, who thought it was a flower until he saw it jump”)
“Scamp’s tale has a happy ending”
(“pedigree dog ” returned to family)
“Long vacation over”
(“A 50-year-old tortoise has been found two years after it went missing…”)
“Curse of the parrot”
(owner of bird that appeared in Curse of the Black Pearl pulled over for driving with parrot on shoulder, arrested for driving without a license)
“Polar bears ‘extinct by 2080’ “
“Infected oysters and poor hygiene, a recipe for sickness at The Fat Duck”
“Wing beats web in South Africa”
(carrier pigeon transmits data faster than national ISP)
“Vicious fish parasite found near Jersey”
(“‘ Really quite large, really quite hideous. If you turn it over its got dozens of these really sharp nasty claws underneath and I thought ‘ that’s a bit of a nasty beast.’ ‘”)
What American broadsheet provides that kind of content? Certainly not the Gray Lady. The DT’s tv critic put his finger on the problem, I think, in a review of the final season of The Wire: “The show captured the bow-tied ponderousness and politically correct nitpicking ot the Sun as neatly as the jargon of the drug ghettos. My God, these guys take themselves seriously. No wonder their venerable newspapers are going down the tubes.”
But it didn’t used to be that way! Though most things were not better in the 1840s, at least American newspapers had a sense of humor.