Friday, August 8, 2008

Why newspapers are dying

This morning I read a restaurant review in the Washington Post Weekend section which contained the following sentence:

"Let's be honest, Mexican food is pretty straightforward with variations on a cheese, meat and tortilla theme."

I immediately had to drop everything I was doing and write a curmudgeonly email which began "I know you've downsized the staff, but what's going on here, are you having the high school interns write the restaurant reviews?"

Seriously, this is Washington DC. This is an audience that has a high level of culinary sophistication. The existence of Mexican regional cuisines is not a secret nowadays, nor is the existence of dishes beyond Tex-Mex tacos and enchiladas. And surely it's not news to readers in an area with such a large Latino population that "plantains are a fruit similar to bananas."

I managed not to also comment on the style of the quoted sentence, so really, I did exercise some restraint. But, although I know from personal experience that it's the time of year when a lot of the grownup editors are on vacation, there's really no excuse.

(The title of this post is stolen from my famous writer friend Beth Harpaz, who forwards around terrible newspaper stories under this heading.)

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