“If there’s no news, don’t report it.”
Jens Holsoe, foreign correspondent for Politiken (Copenhagen)
THE TRAFFIC REPORT
Every Labor Day holiday in the U.S. puts news reporting into the doldrums, as publishers sip champagne on their yachts and reporters take budget vacations. Holiday lulls prompt a type of reporting known as “filler”, a lot of words without substance to wallpaper the blank pages.
How else can we explain why a local traffic report got picked as major world news at the start of September?
Epic Traffic Jam in China! This is a classic “dog-bite-man” story. It happens every hour and never makes a ripple in the daily news, except on the holidays.
The same clogged road story appears annually every autumn and not by coincidence. Farmers harvest their crops then, food processors package the food, and trucks haul the stuff to warehouses. So the roads are congested. In early fall, as well, building managers of central heating plants have to stockpile coal for the winter. And how does coal get into the cities? Not on Boeing jetliners.
The unanswered question remains: Why should anyone lolling on a Caribbean beach or enjoying a picnic on a mountainside care about bumper-to-bumper Beijing or smog-blanketd Taiyuan?
To feel better about being on vacation, of course.
Next year we will try our best to find even worse traffic jams for your enjoyment.