A local conservative gets mad at the Strib … but not for the reason you think

It’s not news that local conservatives get mad at the Star Tribune. But Republican insider Tom Horner has a different beef: he wants the cash-strapped newsroom to focus on local news, rather than “the logo of a Seattle-based corporation protested by a marginal San Diego group.”

At issue is today’s curious 300-word piece by reporter Paul Walsh. A Christian group called the Resistance is apparently offended that Starbucks’ familiar coffee-label mermaid is baring her breasts and spreading her … fins.

Now, we all love a “talker,” the non-important culture-slice that greases one’s conversations with co-workers. But generally, these are either local stories, or national curiosities written by out-of-towners.

We’ll let Horner — a former journalist, U.S. Senate aide to Dave Durenberger, and principal of the Himle-Horner p.r. firm — take it from here:

“Typically, I let this stuff go … but this morning’s effort is too much! For all the legitimate grumbling at the Strib about tight newsroom resources, how can a reader take them seriously when they devote a reporter’s time and a portion of their ever-shrinking news hole to ridiculous stories like the one in this morning’s paper on a fringe group protesting Starbuck’s corporate logo.

“A Christian group based in San Diego found grounds for outrage over the new retro-style logo? What makes the logo of a Seattle-based corporation protested by a marginal San Diego group worthy of a Minneapolis journalist’s time?

“Why is this group even newsworthy? Where is the validation for its claim of 3,000 members or that it has any sway with anyone? This is an organization, by the way, that claims the Army Corps of Engineers has invested countless public resources in creating a series of tunnels and underground shelters (perhaps even entire cities) known only to the wealthy and privileged few, to be used when the inevitable attack comes from enemies of the U.S. 

“Let’s hope that’s NOT how the Strib perceives legitimate conservative thinking.

“There. I feel better already.”

Walsh — listed as a daytime reporter for Startribune.com — does not appear to be a serial violator of “local, local, local.” His reporting typically ranges from Minnesota hard news like bad gusset plates to Gov. Pawlenty’s bad sex life.

My guess is the man was just having a little fun, without political intent, and it didn’t take much of its time.

But the kerfuffle is an indicator that readers — even those with political sensitivities — expect the paper to focus its ever-scarcer resources appropriately, either on local stuff or important news.

By the way, it looks like an Ad Age blog deserves credit for “breaking” the story eight days ago. It features a wonderful headline: “Go Sell Crazy Somewhere Else” and this appropriate lead: “File this one under ridiculous press releases.”

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Ann Spencer on 05/16/2008 - 03:11 pm.

    I agree 100%. This story was beyond trivial.

    But the Strib isn’t alone. Non-news like this fills the airwaves, the Internet and, unfortunately “serious” newspapers. Remember the runaway bride of several years ago? Her face was everywhere for weeks, and I can’t think of a less important story in the greater scheme of things.

    As far as the Strib is concerned, my pet peeve is the amount of space dedicated to big photo spreads of people attending various glitzy events, captioned with an inventory of every item of clothing and accessory they’re wearing, its label and where they bought it. What a waste of valuable column inches.

    Of course, my wardrobe is by Lands’ End, so what do I know?

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