Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Right to Grill Delicious Hot Dogs

One of the pleasures of living in southwestern Pennsylvania is being able to read a paper like the Tribune-Review. The Trib provides a nice editorial balance to the more established Post-Gazette and, for those of you Minnesotans dropping by, is rather like the Anti-Strib of newspapers. We even have thoughtful, intelligent columnists who could, if you like, qualify as Anti-Nick Colemans.

A case in point is Eric Heyl's visit to a hot dog stand as recounted in his column from this morning's Trib. Imagine how a Nick Coleman would cover this story. The man running the hot dog stand, who has been told that he is using the city sidewalk illegally, would come off as a victim of not enough government regulation. Nick would make an issue of skin color (and also his complexion -- the hot dog man sort of looks like an older relative of Seal). And the column would include lots of quotes from sympathetic twits who wish the cruel government would do something to help him.

Eric Heyl, instead, does not go out of his way to obfuscate and confuse the reader. The hot dog man does not want the government to help him; he wants the government to keep out of his business. Heyl does not try to put any kind of spin on the flags and armed services stickers that decorate the hot dog wagon. "This is America," the hot dog man tells him, and Heyl needs no explanation. Finally, in concluding his article, Heyl comments sympathetically on the plight of this successful entrepreneur who is suing the city for the right to keep his stand in the same place it has been for over a decade. This column is a nice piece of reporting without spin.

Don't you folks in MN wish you had a Trib instead of a Strib?

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