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Note to New Yorker: Google!

Who covered the Olympics? Sportswriters, obviously, and China-bureau reporters. Considering the deep political undercurrents of these Games, specialists in politics or international relations could be interested. Maybe a science writer could analyze performance-enhancing drugs or Beijing's air pollution. And, if you're the New Yorker, you send over film critic Anthony Lane.


A What in the Armor? recently raised some eyebrows when it ran the following headline about the US men's basketball team in China: "Chink in the Armor?" Their reaction—the headline was quickly rewritten—was quite different from that of the Spanish national basketball team when it was caught in an ad doing something else involving eyebrows. But, it turns out, the word "chink," as related to armor, is OK outside the US.


A Phelpsian Windfall

Tuesday morning, courtesy of the CBS Morning Show, Phelps-a-mania came to an amazing crescendo. The smart money would have wagered that the Phelpsian epic would have hit its high mark somewhere in NBC's maudlin coverage of the Games— most likely during the Today Show, which has insisted on bringing groggy, bleary eyed America every second of every breath currently happening in Beijing. But no! CBS decided to follow coverage of a potentially devastating hurricane currently brewing in Southern Florida with an interview of Phelps, offering the immediate and unfortunate segue: "And now to a man who's like a hurricane…in the pool, Michael Phelps!"


Play What?

When the world champion Spanish national basketball team was massacred by Team USA by a score of 119 to 82, many suspected that something was amiss. Like the Virginian rodent of yore, Team Spain was, the rumor went, "playing possum."


The Culinary Olympics

If you thought reporters at the Beijing Olympics were there simply to cover Michael Phelps, or China's human-rights abuses and pollution problems, you were wrong. There's all kinds of side stories, including biking the streets of Beijing with Olympians, and chronicling the confusion of a cab ride in the Chinese capital. But the most common kind of fluff story is served up with a side of scorpions on a stick.


The Death of the Chicago Sun-Times?

The newspaper business here in Chicago—like that of the rest of the country—has fallen on hard times. The broadsheet Chicago Tribune apparently wants to turn into USA Today (or Maxim), though thankfully we haven't yet seen any evidence of a redesign. Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times, the local tabloid, is solving its problems by rehashing old Mike Royko columns.


The Full 'Monty'

The Montauk Monster, that bloated, seemingly decomposing corpse of some creature that washed up on a Montauk, Long Island, beach last month, has been getting a lot of attention recently—perhaps too much attention when there are decidedly more important things going on, like simultaneous wars and the return of $2 Starbucks after 2 p.m. So why is a certain part of the online world abuzz about "Monty"? It's the pageviews, stupid.


How Not To Report on Wikipedia

In the August 4 issue of the New Yorker, Ben McGrath tells the story of Alan Rogers, a talented and thoughtful Army lifer who died in Iraq. McGrath's article explores whether the military and media intentionally covered up Rogers's identity as "the first known gay casualty of the Iraq war," and it makes for fascinating reading. But I was underwhelmed by several lively paragraphs in the middle where McGrath describes the "edit war" over Rogers's Wikipedia entry—a war fought over the inclusion of phrases like "he was gay and worked to end 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.' " I'll admit that this conflict forms an arresting journalistic image, but in choosing to focus on it, McGrath follows an easy, misleading path in the coverage of Wikipedia.


Brother, Can You Spare an Olympiad?

The upcoming Beijing Olympics will see a major investment from any number of media outlets. While the Olympics are undoubtedly big news, and the China angle makes them all the bigger, Gelf couldn't help but wonder how cash-strapped newspapers are using the resources being poured into coverage of the 2008 Summer Games. A brief look at coverage from three such papers indicates that some are using the money wisely. Others, not so much.


Obama's Weight Problem (and Other Bogus Trends)

When a big trend story in a major newspaper about the presidential election strikes many people as laughable, at least one person as racist, and reminds still others of a satirical news segment, there's a problem. But the biggest problem is that trend stories based on offhand anecdotes are still published in the first place.

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