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Assume that you have just opened the morning paper and turned to the sports section to catch-up on the newly announced NFL schedule for 2012 and you see this advertisement.

Your first thought might be something like, "of course I want to get paid by the pound to lose weight." Your second thought might be, "of course I want to squirt eye-droppers full of an unspecified liquid under my tongue because that sounds like a far better way to 'build muscle' than lifting something heavy. I mean, that's got to be better for my back."

Put aside for a minute that HCG is a human hormone commonly found in pregnant women.

Ignore the fact that the currently-popular HCG diet is primarily based on restricting yourself to fewer than 500 calories per day.

Turn a blind eye to the results of more than a dozen studies conducted since 1950 that show no correlation between HCG and weight loss.

Forget that recorded side effects of the drug include blood clots, headache, irritability, depression, severe pelvic pain, swelling of the hands or legs, restlessness, stomach pain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, or (surprise!) weight gain.

Pretend that the FDA, the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and even Dr. Oz recommend against taking over-the-counter HCG for any reason.

Now ask yourself: what the hell does this have to do with football?

Five yards for illegal procedure!

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There will be no Newnan Times-Herald newspaper published today. Or tomorrow. Or any Monday or Tuesday in the future. Starting immediately, the paper will cease production early in the week to save costs. I guess from now on, nothing will happen early in the week that will be worth reporting. That will make Monday and Tuesday like every other day of the week in this town.

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What, exactly, does the Daily Planet report? How many times can you see the headline "Superman Saves City From Toyman" before you don't really feel the need to spend 50¢ to read it anymore? Would you subscribe to a morning paper to read about how Superman saved the city while you were at work? If crime, accidents, or even major weather events weren't an issue in your town, would you pick up a paper to read a columnist decrying local politicians or the state of your schools? No, I don't think so.

Look at the competitors: the New York Times has made a name for itself in the traditional way with slanted political bias. The Washington Post has picked up a reputation for investigative reporting. The Wall Street Journal thrives by reporting to the niche market with financial information. USA Today gets by with puff pieces and 4-color printing, becoming the "comic book" of the news world. And my small city paper, the Newnan Times-Herald, tries to appeal to the disparate interests of the local community, yesterday selling a schizophrenic edition with two headlines: "County Passes Tighter Obscenity Ordinance" side-by-side with "Micro Wrestlers: 'They're Amazingly Funny, Who Doesn't Like Midgets?'"

Seems to me that if I were Perry White, I'd have to find some new directions for news reporting. It's hard enough for newspapers to survive in the modern television/internet age in a region where there is actually news to report, much less in crime-free Metropolis. Face it, if there's not some major alien invasion or other Justice League emergency ("Brainiac Renovates City Hall - WIth BLOOD!"), the Planet may as well be an Associated Press outpost with a light sprinkling of boring local interest stories ("Super-Ventriloquism and Other Forgotten Powers of Superman") and sports columns ("Metropolis Monarchs Beat Gotham Knights in World's Finest Series"). I suspect that the solution is tabloid journalism: report on the sex life of politicians and other powerful figures in town. ("Lex Luthor Loves the Ladies; Metropolis Madam Speaks Out!") Or make outrageous claims about the foibles of of celebrities. ("Bruce Wayne in Rehab for Addiction to Domestic Violence?"). That always seems to sell well.

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To be continued...


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