In the most skilled hands, this sort of structure has its limitations, especially in a news venue where readers are accustomed to reading stories that make a point. A more ambitious, albeit less flashy, approach would have been to use this couple's intimate details to frame a larger discussion about the kinds of issues their story raises. That is, after all, what journalists do.
That would have required a lot of legwork, though, and it certainly would have generated a less steamy reaction from readers. The piece the Strib did instead was about making you come back for more, day after day, to watch two people as though they were characters on a TV show. On startribune.com, in fact, readers were asked to answer the question, "Can the marriage be saved?" At the end of last week, over 5,000 people had responded and 60 percent had said no. The accompanying bar graph, like the half-page graphic that ran with each installment of the series, is as colorful as it is meaningless.