Follow yesterday’s nastygram about State Fair “news” coverage, a TV reporter challenged me to look at the bright side of the issue. So, I’ve dug deep into my dark heart, and taken my special pills, and this is what I came up with:
Reason #1. Tradition. Woody Allen said “tradition is the illusion of permanence.” In a throwaway world – 3D is out and aromascope cards are in…DVD’s are out, streaming is in…Angry Birds is out Camelot Smashalot is in…Pawlenty and Bachmann are out, Perry is in — we need all the sense of permanence we can get. The State Fair, in all it’s sameness, represents that illusion of permanence that comforts us. Yes, we’ve heard the “on a stick” jokes hundreds of times. Yes, we see the same exhibits year after year. But that repetition of tales we’ve heard before creates a treasured thread in our Minnesota fabric. Shmaltzy? You betcha. But it’s OUR shmaltz.
Reason #2. It’s August, so no news is happening anyway. August is arguably the sleepiest news month of the year. The Legislature isn’t in session, Congress is recessing, the Vikings haven’t started, the Twins were done two months ago, high school and college sports is dormant, and the entire world is on vacation, it seems. Yes, a lot of non-news gets covered as news during the State Fair. But since there is virtually no news happening in August anyway, eh, what’s the harm?
Reason #3. The news comes to the State Fair, so reporters don’t need to go to the news. The State Fair effectively is one big, long, laid back news conference. News makers – elected officials, bureaucrats, businesspeople, and local celebrities – are all in Falcon Heights, and arguably more available to reporters and forthcoming than they are in their natural habitats. So the fact is, it would be hard to cover the news AWAY FROM Falcon Heights.
Reason #4. State Fair news coverage merely replaces fluff with fluff. The week after the State Fair, local news stations will be covering the latest in back-to-school supplies anyway. In other words, as bad as State Fair news coverage is, our local TV news coverage never gets much better. (I’m afraid my special medicine can’t eradicate all of my snark germs.)
Reason #5. State Fair news coverage represents community glue. Some of us like Fringe Fest, some of us hate it. Ditto with hockey, opera, action hero movies, chick flicks, cooking shows, politics, NASCAR, marathons, etc. But the Minnesota menagerie in Falcon Heights is the closest thing to a universal statewide event that we have, and probably that any state can ever hope to have these days. If you get stuck in an elevator with fellow Minnesotans, what commonalities can you discuss? The State Fair is on a very short list, and it’s important to have community commonalities over which we can bond. For our fellow Minnesotans who can’t make it to the Great Minnesota Get Together this year, maybe it’s a community service to bring it to their living room TVs, to keep them glued them into our all too fractured Minnesota community.