Columnist - Howell Dennis

Those of us who write for newspapers have heard it before. Our time will soon be up. Eventually, the Internet will be the main source for getting your news and we will all be looking for work elsewhere. I will be the first to admit that there may be some truth to this. After all, online news sites (MSN, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) can update stories by the hour while we don’t get the chance to update ours until the next day.

On the Internet, people don’t have to flip from page to page to find the story they are looking for, they can just point and click. However, after spending some time today on the Yahoo news site I can honestly say that right now there is one major factor that stands between newspapers and the Internet when it comes to being a serious news source.

The Internet suffers from an identity complex. One minute they’re the New York Times and the next they’re the National Enquirer.

Presently, we are involved in two wars. Our economy, depending on who you listen to, is fragile at best. A psychopath just gunned down 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood. And the mother of a murdered 5-year-old girl committed one of the most unspeakable acts I’ve ever heard of.

Now I don’t dispute that each of these stories has been covered extensively on all the news websites. And I have to admit that I often use the net to check out facts for some of the stories I write. However, I couldn’t help but feel kind of offended today when I went to read about today’s major happenings on MSN. The top story had nothing to do with the wars, the economy or that nut at Ft. Hood. Today’s most groundbreaking story is that for the next six months Americans will have to suffer from a shortage of Eggo waffles.

I mean think about it. In the last few years Americans have dealt with $4 gasoline, bank failures, and the subsequent housing crises. I think we are tough enough to make it through the next six months without waffles and I really don’t envision riots breaking out in the frozen food section of Winn Dixie any time soon. I didn’t even bother to read the article but now that I’m thinking of it how in the hell are we short on waffles? Admittedly, I’m not very educated with how the waffle industry works but if we are running low can’t we just make some more? It isn’t as though they have oil or uranium in their recipe. In case you are wondering the answer is yes, I do feel stupid even talking about this.

Picture a soldier in Afghanistan getting on a computer to see how things are back at home. What do you think his/her reaction would be?

“We have been fighting in the desert for six years and there is presently no end in sight, the economy back at home is a mess and I don’t know if I’ll be able to find work when I return - and now to top it all off we’re out of waffles.”

I have actually written a previous column critical of some news outlets for including Brittany Spears articles among their top stories. What would happen if the waffle shortage story came out on the same day Brittany shaved her head? Which one would get top billing? Do you think the soldier in Afghanistan would actually care? I seriously doubt those guys spend their spare time eating waffles and listening to Brittany Spears.

Now that I think of it - does anyone?

Howell Dennis is a native of Lafayette, La. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington where he graduated in journalism and public relations.

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