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Sunday, September 17, 2023

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

In 1986, The New Republic ran a contest to see if anyone could find a more boring headline than "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative," which appeared on a Flora Lewis column in the New York Times. According to Michael Kinsley, some of the nominees were "University of Rochester Decides to Keep Name," "Trade: A Two-Way Street," ""Prevent Burglary by Locking House, Detectives Urge," and "Debate Goes on Over the Nature of Reality."

I don't know if there was ever a winner, and I believe the contest just faded out rather than formally ending, but I do believe there was a worthy entrant in today's Chicago Tribune:

"Naperville Public Library Debuts New Catalog System."

That would be newsworthy in, oh, Naperville, but it was on page 6 of the Sunday Chicago Tribune, which underscores just how much even major metro papers have become localized. Nobody reads the Trib for national or international news.

That is not all bad, of course. Today's Sunday Trib has excellent front page stories on Chicago recycling, Illinois bail reform, the Bears’ first black quarterback, and Illinois’ role in the Underground Railroad. The editorial page has a cool Ron Grossman article on the history of limestone quarrying for Chicago buildings (he is worth reading every week), and David Greisman’s fifth essay (out of five ) on Illinois' looming pension disaster. And then they have to fill the inside pages with something.

(Also, Michael Kinsley is famous for the observation, "the scandal is what's legal," which is something we can apply today to the Supreme Court's ethics and disclosure obligations."


Posted by Steve Lubet on September 17, 2023 at 11:37 AM | Permalink


Kinsley also came up with the often-cited definition of a gaffe: "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say."

Posted by: Howard E. Katz | Sep 18, 2023 5:21:16 PM

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