Screaming Bedlam

Horrifying stories ripped from the pages of todays newspapers

Back when The Orange County Register was a goofy hometown newspaper instead of USA Today with Alzheimer's, it used to editorialize a bit in its news stories. Sometimes it was overt, with headlines like "Commie Dupe Negroes Invade Park," but usually it was just to give some factual reminders to readers, like that public schools were "tax-supported" schools or including the price tag attached to otherwise popular programs. Maybe it's time to bring that back, to question the assumptions that cumulatively are making us a nation of dolts.

While we're waiting for that day, has anyone noticed that the Register has its own Bill of Rights now? I guess we don't need to worry so much now about the other Bill of Rights slipping away. Introduced on Aug. 13, its chief promise to customers is "we'll deliver a newspaper that satisfies you or your money back." I personally haven't been satisfied with the Register since they dropped that cute, wide-eyed Dondi kid from the comic pages, so they already owe me a heap of quarters.

Register publisher and CEO Chris Anderson wrote that the customer's Bill of Rights is aimed at making the Register a more perfect newspaper and that "all of us here at the Register—almost 2,000 of us—are changing how we work together to provide you a different and more satisfying experience when you deal with us."

How different an experience? Well, you may just have to deal with all 2,000 employees now to get any satisfaction. Several readers, for example, called the Register to tell them that they must have reversed the numbers on a poll they'd conducted on whether Laguna's Festival of the Arts should move to San Clemente. On Aug. 17, the Reg reported that 92 percent of the 608 respondents favored the move and 8 percent didn't, when in actuality 92 percent were opposed to the move. But the paper didn't agree to print a correction until the head of the festival board recall committee had complained to some five different editors. Is it any wonder that their Bill of Rights doesn't have a First Amendment?

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