Friday, May 20, 2005

Hang it up, Miner!

Posted by: spacecog

My estimable colleague Spiky may not have had the courage to "go Miner" this go-around, but I did, and can report that the stupidity in this week’s Hot Type is so utter and overwhelming that it more than compensates for any alleged lack of suckitude elsewhere in the Reader. This one’s so bad it almost seems like a parody, a belated April Fools’ joke on all of us. But this is Miner, and he’s not that clever, so it’s gotta be real.

Miner’s earthshattering opener this week? 700 words recounting in tedious detail his bungled, fruitless attempts to penetrate the Sun-Times voicemail system and leave a message for someone in the Sports department.

Now, reporters are supposed to be able to figure out how to get in touch with people, so you might wonder why Miner is telling us a story that makes him look like such a hapless stooge.

But that’s not how he sees it. He sees his futile phoning as a sign that "not only the Sun-Times but the Tribune and newspapers everywhere have turned themselves into fortresses." It’s a conspiracy! "Phone numbers -- and e-mail addresses – are rarely easy to find on newspaper Web sites," Miner notes ominously, and telephone operators aren’t’ on call 24-7.

If you sense a big batch of "you kids get off my lawn" coming on, well, you know your Miner. "[T]here was a time not many years ago when an operator was always on duty at a serious newspaper and the newsroom was always easy to reach," he sighs. "A time when journalists didn’t scratch their heads and wonder why the people despised them." And what if "someone at a pay phone trying to reach the only Sun-Times reporter he trusted with a big tip on a big story" gives up because he runs out of change?

Yep, that’s right. Miner thinks people hate the media because they can’t navigate the Sun-Times voicemail system. (He also seems to think people still use pay phones, apparently unaware that those weird little gizmos people hold up to their ears while they yammer at the air are in fact cell phones.)

Putting aside the sheer stupid absurdity of this, let’s take a look and see if it is indeed hard for a person of moderate intelligence and initiative to get in touch with someone at the Sun-Times. Yep, that’s right kiddoes, Spacecog is going to put on his reporter hat and try a little sleuthing. (A VERY little.)

PHONING IT IN: So let’s say we want to get in touch with Rick Telander, the sports columnist Miner mentions later in his column and presumably the guy he was trying to reach. Open the Sun-Times to page 2 and locate the main news number, (312) 321-3000. (The number’s also easy to find on the Sun-Times website.) Dial the number, punch in the first four letters of Telander’s name when prompted, and -- BAM! -- you're sent directly to his voicemail. The whole process took me much less time than it took to write this up. I'm not sure how exactly Miner came a cropper here, but if you can't get through by phone there's always ...

THE INTERNETS: Go to the sports page on the Sun-Times website, click on the first Rick Telander story you see. Click on his byline – note to Miner: that means the guy’s name – at the top of his column and – BAM! -- there you go, you’re sending him an email.

Only one final question remains: do Miner’s editors ever actually read the crap he hands in before publishing it? Or am I the only one?


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