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One of daily newspaper journalism's enduring axioms is that today's news is tomorrow's fish 'n' chip paper.
Journalists use it self-deprecatingly. It explains why they take what appears in print less seriously than those they write about.
Journalists are well aware that, for one reason or another, many people won't read their piece and take it for granted that most of those who do will have forgotten it by morning tea time. But the people they write about, especially those they write about in less than flattering terms, tend to assume that everyone in the circulation area has read the article, pinned it up on their office noticeboard and emailed it around the country, if not the world.
The belief that what one writes today will be wrapping fish 'n' chips tomorrow might explain the propensity for sweeping assertions and rushes to judgment, the eagerness to make big calls on little evidence, and the disinclination to consider whether something that looks cut and dried now will look the same in 24 hours, let alone 24 days, weeks or months.
Last Monday the Dominion Post led its world section with a story sourced from the Times headlined, "Is Obama's star about to fade?" It was based on complaints from fans of American Idol - three were quoted - about their show being shunted to a later time-slot to make way for a presidential press conference.
One disgruntled fan compared Obama's omnipresence to that of Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Reality check: Castro ruled Cuba for almost 50 years. Chavez has been in power for over a decade; Obama has been President for a couple of months. Question: why is the Times taking any notice of cyber-prattle?
In mid-week Wall Street jumped 6.8 per cent after the administration revealed its plan to purge banks of $1.75 trillion in toxic assets. We're still waiting for American Idol fans to tell us whether this was a significant shift or an aberration.
A few days later another Times writer slammed the "Narcissist in Chief" for joking about the economic situation: "Gallows humour is all very well - just not when you're probably the only man in the world who can save us from a fast-approaching apocalypse."
You might wonder why a supposedly serious newspaper would run something that qualifies as drivel on the grounds of both obtuseness and hysteria. The answer is they don't see it as that big a deal. Would you like salt and vinegar with that?
Elsewhere in the Dom Post a sportswriter surveyed the state of New Zealand cricket following India's emphatic victory in the first test and concluded that we might "never be any good at test match cricket again". It's certainly hard to see the Black Caps being a force to be reckoned with in test cricket in the next year or two, but why bring eternity into the equation?
Has he never heard of the term "foreseeable future"? He went on to ask, Henry Higgins-style, why our batsmen can't be more like Sachin Tendulkar. Reality check: Tendulkar has been playing test cricket for 20 years. He has made more test and one-day international centuries than those 11 Black Caps put together will probably accumulate in their careers.
Many observers regard him as the second best batsman the game has produced thus far. Question: can the gentleman from the Dom Post tell us how he compares to the stars of the future?
Unlike their rugby counterparts, the poor old Black Caps get precious little sympathy from ex-players who now pontificate for a living. Writing in the Herald on Sunday under a headline which made the salient point that India are a better team, Mark Richardson floated the idea that our cricketers don't bust a gut in test cricket because it's not "lining their pockets".
Question: given that professional sportsmen do what they do for money, is it reasonable or is it offensive to suggest that when they represent their country the amount of effort they expend is determined by the size of their match fee?
Last weekend's round of Super 14 games illustrated the risk of reaching a verdict before all the evidence is in.
Coming on top of some less than inspiring fare in previous rounds, the fiasco at the Cake Tin, courtesy of a mad scientist referee who treated the game as a guinea pig in some bizarre experiment, was enough to make you wonder where the game is headed.
In Hamilton the next night the referee was content to be the 31st - as opposed to the first - man on the field, the Chiefs found their mojo, and suddenly the product didn't look quite so shop-soiled.