Friday, October 22, 2010

This Is Good to Hear

One of my efforts in progress is to record what I feel are great newspaper leads, quotes or descriptions within stories I've read. This is a pure work in progress that is never over. Wake up and buy a paper, and there might be something to marvel at.

Some days are better than others. And some days are all-time classics. Take today for instance. The NYT is not often tongue-in-cheek. Certainly nowhere near as often as the WSJ's A-head pieces that can contain double digit double meanings before you even turn the page. But today, the NYT wins.

This morning, front page, below the fold, the lead under the headline New Way to Help Chickens Cross to Other Side goes:

Shoppers in the supermarket today can buy chicken free of nearly everything but adjectives. It comes free-range, cage-free, antibiotic-free, raised on vegetarian feed, organic, even air-chilled.

Coming soon: stress-free?

This is certainly enough to grab your attention. No real hint of what's to come. Just wait. The headline will come into focus.

"...are preparing to switch to a system of killing their birds that they consider more humane. The new system uses carbon dioxide gas to gently render them unconscious before they are hung by their feet to have their throats slit..."

Until now, chicken nuggets never brought out images of what it might be like to be in a Turkish prison.

The story goes on, complete with a picture of the new gassing apparatus. The story is so good that the quote of the day comes from the end of the article. It seems the technique, while not completely new in all countries, creates some marketing challenges. How do you brag about killing chickens? "People don't want to know too much," Marc Cooper, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is quoted as saying when discussing methods for slaughtering chickens.

Just a few days ago the NYT Quote of the Day came from the story about people who were living to be a 100 and their observations on how they got there. Secrets of the Centenarians appeared in Tuesday's Science Times section as the page one story. Three of the four nicely pictured people on the page are female, so the "survived by" tilt to women is again borne out.

I always thought it was a funny question that had no real answer when someone would interview one of these people and always ask what is their secret to their longevity. I always wanted to hear someone say is wasn't the oatmeal they ate for 60 years, but really rather just the fact that they kept breathing, hadn't died, and were still here. Turns out, someone did answer it that way.

"There's no secret about it really, You just don't die and you get to be 100," is how Hazel Miller answered the inevitable question. Brava Hazel. You told it like it is.

If you do think about it though, a chicken never gets quoted on what it's like to be a 100.

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