I know that there are always “so what?” stories that pass for “Breaking News” or front-page headlines, but this week seems particularly bad on that front. Here are three of the current non-stories that I refuse to follow:
1) Those NRC Rankings: I’ve just gotten word (via emails from several different colleagues) that the National Research Council is finally about to release its too-long-awaited departmental rankings. I think that they are providing limited access next week and making the information “public” the following week. Some people aren’t quite sure how valuable such a ranking would have been four or five years ago (when the data was collected), but I fear that only historians will find the information useful at this point.
2) The Book-Burning Pastor’s Latest Claims: I barely followed this non-story before 9/11, even with the insensitive threat of burned Holy Books hanging in the balance. But how can any news outlet justify the tiniest mention of Terry Jones on 9/16? This very morning? I’ve been to Gainesville. There are more interesting news items to be found down there.
3) Last Night’s Derek Jeter Fake-Out: There are seven different televisions in the workout room I use in Penn’s gym, all tuned to different channels, and it seemed like every single one had a story about Derek Jeter pretending to be hit by a pitch last night. He was awarded first base for his convincing performance. The ESPN folks seemed like they were going to have a heart attack over the entire affair. Fine him. Suspend him. Ban him from the game. But please no more holier-than-thou pronouncements. If this were a real story, the entire NCAA basketball season would be about how many awful and unethical defensive players try to sell their silly flops to the refs. Cheating is a serious matter, but do we need Derek Jeter to open up that important discussion?
Of course, I realize that my mere mention of these silly stories makes me complicit, but I’ll live with that piece of hypocrisy. And needless to say, I don’t plan to type another word about any of these three topics ever again.