Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When News? Was the News

Do you remember when the news was really news? I'm talking about when reporters gathered hard-hitting news and pulled no punches.

When you wanted news, you got the news!

Growing up in rural West Virginia one thing I learned, aside from cow-tipping and how to drink moonshine without throwing up, was that if you wanted to get by in the world, you had to know what was going on in the world. The way to do that was to not waste your time fishing with cherry bombs and peeping into the neighbor's bedroom windows at night. No, we were taught to read the newspaper - and not just the funnies either - but the real news.

One such newspaper that offered us the news we craved was the:

Newspapers like the Weekly World News weren't shamelessly promoted by ads. We weren't harassed into paying subscription fees and finding that the paper would never show up on our front porches. We didn't have to crawl through the rose bushes in the pouring rain to retrieve our paper because of the errant throw of a snotty-nosed delivery boy who would hurl it from the cover of his parent's pickup truck.

Uh-uh, all we had to do was to make a trip to supermarket to buy some groceries. We'd then go to the checkout register - and there it was, next to the TV Guide and the Saturday Evening Post. We could even skip through the pages while the pimply-faced gum-chewing teenage girl at the register struggled to take off her brown and white saddle shoes to count to more than ten while making change for the customer ahead of us.

If you wanted human interest stories about the struggles of normal everyday people, the WWN was the source straight from the source.

When it came to sports, we didn't want to hear about a Super Bowl with two teams playing that we didn't like. We certainly didn't want to read about those *%#@$ Yankees.

We didn't want to read about those overpaid prima Donna professional athletes. No, we wanted to learn which one of the local yokels won the XXIV World Championship of Watermelon Seed Spitting. We wanted to see the results of the playoffs of the Tug-of-War over the slop pit of a pig pen.

We wanted to hear about the local farmer who grew vegetables resembling human sexual organs. We were enthralled to read about those inbred hicks with a pinch of snuff in their fat jowls who were abducted by the large-eyed, gray-skinned beings from a space ship shaped like a Phillie Cheroot.

We wanted human interest stories. We wanted to hear about miracle births. You know the ones I mean, like the babies born with Van Dyke beards or the one who sang opera as the doctor delivered them. Don't forget the one born with a halo encircling its tiny head.

If the newspapers today make a printing or reporting mistake, if they run corrections at all, they will bury them in the back of the paper with small print at the bottom of the page, usually between an ad for XXX videos and a lost and found notice about someone's pet named Fifi or Petunia.

When the Weekly World News made a mistake, which was rare because of the accuracy of their reporters, they would put it on page two in a big box almost as big as a Montgomery Ward advertisement. It didn't really matter if they printed a correction or a retraction, because that paper attracted only intelligent readers who knew right away if there was a mistake.

I don't how that paper did it, but they always seemed to scoop the large city publications. I don't know if it was because of the diligence of their reporters, or that the major papers were afraid to run the stories.

Whatever the reason, it would be only the WWN that informed the world of the mutated giant ants in Africa. The paper scooped the world that it was an off course Cessna two-seater that collided with and caused Sky Lab to fall from its 250-mile-high orbit.

The world of Palaeontology was turned upside down when the Word Weekly News reported the findings of new species of dinosaur in the desert in Arizona. Scientists and Theologians alike were stunned to learn that this saurian creature was possibly of the Jewish faith! Next to the head of the forty-foot tall reptile was the fossilized remains of what resembled a giant skullcap or a yarmulke.

One alert WWN reporter noticed the resembance of the dinosaur to one of the alien stars in the Star Wars prequel films, in particular the Gungan, Jar Jar Binks. This spurred a team of geneticists to track down Ahmed Best who played the character. Their plan was to obtain DNA samples from the actor and compare them to trace DNA samples found in the partially surviving marrow of the fossilized skeletal remains of the prehistoric beast.

The Weekly World News doesn't limit its pages to sensational news either. The paper is well know for its attention to the Arts, especially the Theater.

Yes, they had comics too!

Of course, the World Weekly News never forgot us, the children. The paper often run great cartoons and they were always on the level of elementary and pre-school aged children.



Skunkfeathers said...

The Weekly World News introduced me to the *true* story of the RMS Titanic actually being sunk by an alien U-boat. Since then, it's all been downhill.

I am sure that Chris Matthews (PMSNBC) is a love-grandchild of a chance barlight mating between one of those alien U-boat crewthings and a wayward manatee after a tryst at the RackAckAckRack Bar, somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle (the WWN probably has photos and birth certificates, somewhere).

Christina said...

I love those magazines in the checkout line!

Hale McKay said...

If for no other reason to validate these papers, even Tommy Lee Jones in the movie "Men In Black" relied heavily on these rags for his job.

Hale McKay said...


I have never purchased one of these for myself, though I have picked them up for some of my elderly clients.

But I have to admit to skimming through them while in the checkout line.

Serena said...

Ah, yes, I confess to checking them all out while in line. Sometimes I'm even tempted to look inside for the "rest of the story," but I usually beat the compulsion.:-)

Hale McKay said...


I think we all at least scan the headlines. We all know they are so much B.S., but they still catch our attention and tickle our imaginations.