Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Wonder Pets Save --- the A-Hed?

Murdoch's Making More Noises About Moving It To The Weekend; This is Serious!

We have a 2 1/2-year-old in the house with definite ideas about what to watch on TV. Which means we often spend time in the morning watching what he wants to keep the peace and our sanity.
One happy accident that's resulted from those circumstances is our collective viewing of "The Wonder Pets," on Noggin, the preschool and commercial-free version of Nick Jr.
In it, Linny the guinea pig, Ming Ming the duckling and Tuck the turtle are classroom pets by day, who after the final bell rings, turn into a trio who travel the world saving young animals -- and the occasional tree -- that are in trouble.
The animation -- the creators call it photo-puppetry -- is nothing short of brilliant, with each episode performed like an operetta complete with full orchestra. We'll save our gripes about Noggin taking its time not showing the newest episodes (I'm sick of saving the calf stuck in a tree, already) for another day.
For now, my hope is the Wonder Pets could temporarily veer away from the animal kingdom and turn their attention to a more dangerous place -- the newsroom.
Specifically, the one at The Wall Street Journal, which is being menaced by a creature named Rupert Murdoch. Which, of course, is especially unfortunate, given that he owns the place now.
Ol' Rupe was making noises about the Journal before he spirited Dow Jones away from the Bancroft family. And now he's apparently clamoring even more loudly about one of the Journal's star attractions, the A-hed, the feature that currently resides in the fourth column on page 1, which can be about just about anything, and often is.
It's not that Murdoch is against enterprise journalism. His beef is that the A-heds are just too darn long for his short attention span. True, they can run well north of 2,000 words, but they're usually worth the time investment, though the Jan. 2 piece on Dennis Kucinich's alleged close encounter with UFOs didn't qualify on that account.
So what does the A-hed have to do with the Journal's mission of being the prime source of business news? Absolutely nothing, which is why getting to write one is the fulfillment of a wet dream for many reporters on the Journal staff. It's the chance to flex the journalistic muscles and bore into a subject without being boring.
Yet, now comes word from the New York Observer that Murdoch and his minions seriously think people only have the time to read these stories on the weekend and want to shunt them off to the Saturday paper.

Big mistake.

The A-Hed is what helps make the Journal the Journal. And who is Murdoch to assume I have more time on my hand come the weekend? I get a lot of my WSJ reading done on the train. As for the weekend, well, I'm usually too busy doing things like watching The Wonder Pets.
Memo to Linny, Ming Ming and Tuck: Forget the pigeons, pandas and skunks. Save the A-Hed!

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