Binge reporting: The local media gets drunk
class=img_thumbleft>There's nothing like a new trend to get the local media salivating like a college freshman over a rail of Rumple Minze shots. In fact, a "trend" seems to be anything a reporter wants it to be, including a fad that is either long gone or never was.
Last year, for example, the Strib uncovered a scrubby little trend that was supposedly sweeping the nation: the need to clean. The cleaning fad could easily be illustrated, according to the article, through the availability of new high-design vacuum cleaner lines. Sure, Dirt Devils these days appear more George Lucas-inspired than your grandma's utilitarian and duct-taped crumb suckers, but keen marketing doesn't mean the nation is suffering from OCD. Just because Target has new space-age-inspired chairs doesn't mean we need to sit on our ass more, or that we will in 2014.
More recently, the local media has forced its readers to chug a diet of binge-drinking stories. But the "trend" to get wasted is hardly new.
A drinking "binge" is when an adult male consumes five or more drinks in one period and an adult female four or more. Since early October, as many as 22 local stories have been reported on the supposed dangerous new trend of binge drinking, which the local papers and news channels would have you believe is harming the state's most precious resources: college students.
Still, according to the CDC, about two-thirds of all binge drinkers are over the age of 25, and the average adult goes on a booze binge about 7.5 times a year. Hardly healthy, but if it's not happening to privileged youth, it's just not that important or interesting, is it?
If tabloid journalism really is a new trend (the Strib said it was), then the Strib just might be getting the drunkest off it. Below is a rundown of the number of fear-based binge-drinking stories that ran over the last four months.
Binge-drinking stories since October:
Star Tribune: 6
St. Paul Pioneer Press: 3
Chicago Tribune: 2
Milwaulkee Journal Sentinel: 1
New York Times: 1
Los Angeles Times: 0
St. Louis Post Dispatch: 0
Washington Post: 0
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