Friday, June 19, 2009
Theft Of Bologna Sandwich Is Major News
A man waiting for a bus in Oklahoma City claimed he was punched in the face by a man who stole his bologna sandwich. According to the Associated Press yesterday, 24-year-old Roger Hamilton told police he was sitting on the bus bench ready to eat his sandwich when a man began staring at him. Before he knew it, Hamilton had a swollen, bloody lip, and the attacker had made off with the sandwich. The attacker has not been found, and the police report listed the value of the sandwich at 76 cents. What is interesting about this story is not the story itself, but the fact that the AP report was picked up by so many news sources, including AOL, Yahoo, and television and news stations. There are literally thousands of Internet news sources and this has made the news accessible to just about everyone, and the news comes out instantly. But is the theft of a 76 cent bologna really worth the news coverage that it got? The "cocaine-in-the-frozen-shark" story earlier in the week about a Mexican drug smuggling operation was national news because not only was it about the seizure of over a ton of cocaine, but it dealt with a major problem affecting both Mexico and the border states in the U.S. The oddness of the story just made it more newsworthy. It's no doubt that the theft of a bologna sandwich is weird, but does it warrant the media attention? Framed in the context of the economic recession we are now facing, the story does deserve mention. But does Roger Hamilton deserve the requisite media attention, the talk show appearances and the million dollar book deal? And what about the other top stories flying through cyberspace at breakneck speed. The Delaware State Fire Marshal's Office yesterday said a man damaged a toilet by setting off fireworks in an Arby's restroom. The AP story was quickly picked up by all the major news outlets. As Delaware State Police investigate the damaged toilet, the Arby's is being besieged by the media looking for more on the story, and money is being offered for any surveillance video. So far the man hasn't been arrested, but he would be wise to turn himself in. The publicity would give him his 15 minutes of fame and maybe more. It was just a toilet, after all. How about the story released earlier in the week about Jacob Skipworth, a Berrien Springs, Michigan man facing felony charges after allegedly spitting on a police officer's McDonald's Egg McMuffin. Originally reported by the AP, the story immediately caught the media's attention. According to the report, the unidentified officer bit into his sandwich and immediately realized something was wrong. The sandwich contained a "stringy with mucus" substance, according to the McDonald's assistant manager. Skipworth, who turned out to be a parolee who spent 14 years in an Indiana prison, said he has nothing against the police. A witness, however, overheard him saying, "I got that cop good." Skipworth is being held in the Berrien County Jail on $10,000 bond, charged with a "felony adulterated food count," according to The Smoking Gun website. A June 23 preliminary hearing has been set, but in the meantime, Skipworth reportedly has retained a public relations firm to handle media requests. The Internet has changed the way we get our news. Newspapers and magazines are going bankrupt, but there's no shortage of news. The Internet news sources are exploiting the advent of free or very cheap news content, and the overhead is next to nothing. The news comes out as it happens, instantly, and with little or no editorial oversight. And the weirder the better. While we are all stressed out about the current economic recession, we are comforted by news that makes us forget about our stock portfolio and our home mortgage. In this economy, the theft of a 76 cent bologna sandwich is major news, and thanks to the Internet, we hear about it as it happens. The "cocaine-in-the-frozen-shark" drug deal is already old news.