One of the standards of American local-market journalism is the "Could It Happen Here?" story. Any time anything of interest happens anywhere in the world, underpaid assignment editors (who are almost always alcoholics or incompetents, but that is another story*) send out reporters to create a news story that will allow the viewer to wrap themselves in a warm blanket of paranoia.
When the Dec. 26 tsunami hit, every station within 100 miles of coastline charged off to ask some poor university professor whether the same thing could happen in their market. When a plane crashes, reporters are dispatched to the nearest airport to ask about safety procedures. And you bet your ass that every time terrorism occurs anywhere, stations everywhere drag out some grumpy old colonel or self-appointed terrorism expert (if we have so many goddamn terrorism experts in this country, why is there still terrorism?) to admit that yes, within the realm of possibility, it is possible -- just as it is possible that your mother is actually a robot -- that terrorists will attack Omaha, Nebraska. Possible. Not probable.
So, within hours after the attacks in London, American news crews were rolling to interview people on local public transportation systems. They returned triumphantly to their newsrooms with stories in which they claimed, without even a hint of irony, that local commuters were continuing to use buses and trains because they "see it as a way to defy terrorism" (and perhaps also because they needed to get to work).
Of course, local-market journalists are fonts of knowledge, especially when it comes to things that were not on E! Entertainment Television last night, like foreign countries. As such, in my happy function as a proofreader who had to read dozens of tenuously London-linked stories, I have learned:
-- People who live in Britain are "Britishers."
-- Americans are expressing their condolences at their local "London consulates."
-- The University of Sussex is in London.
-- Hundreds, if not thousands, of American students narrowly avoided disaster, having been on the Underground sometime in the last week.
I love the sentiment in an article that Jenny linked to Friday: "We're better than you. Everyone is better than you... We're going down the pub."
One of the better aspects of American life are cheesy local commercials. Here's one from northeast Ohio.
"You adore him." I need one of these people to follow my wife around.
Son of a bitch. Whorehouse Days has been cancelled.
On Wednesday I threatened bodily harm upon headline writers using the phrase "Dennis the Menace." It looks like I'm going to be very busy delivering a whole lot of hurt.
Sports that may be added or dropped by the 2012 Olympics.
*When I was an assignment editor is San Diego I was the latter.