The August 6Denver Post
brings us "Cindy McCain is Perfect for First Lady
," in which Frances Owens, Colorado's former first lady, and her daughter Monica spend 337 words to say, in essence, "We know Cindy McCain. Cindy McCain is a friend of ours. And she could be the next Jackie Kennedy." Which is fine, I guess -- but it isn't exactly a good use of newsprint, especially given the shrinking amount of available editorial space in the average Denver daily.
The "Guest Commentary" designation, which the Post uses for pieces like these, is a good way for the paper to let newsmakers and regular citizens weigh in on issues of the day. They can be lively and dishy at times. All too often, however, both the Post and the Rocky Mountain News use name recognition instead of reading value to determine what to plug in this slot. Hence, we see a lot of dry policy wonkery published under the name of elected officials, but probably written by one of their overworked aides, and/or pure puffery such as the Owenses' offering, which was the equivalent of a free campaign ad -- and if the paper tries to even the score next week by publishing, say, a valentine to Michelle Obama by Jeannie Ritter, the same criticism would apply.
Glad to know Frances and Monica like Cindy, though. As Frank Burns once said, "It's nice to be nice to the nice." -- Michael Roberts