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In slow times, news has to be manufactured - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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In slow times, news has to be manufactured

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Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 12:00 am

OK, it’s officially the dog days of summer. The temperature may not be exactly soaring (anything under 100 in late July is mild in these parts), but when anything resembling news is hiding in the shade …

Well, you get the idea. People are still running around trying to get their vacations in before the kids head back to school and so the pace naturally slows.

But even in highly charged Washington, D.C., Congress is getting ready to go into hibernation … err, make that recess. The big news story of the past few months, the Gulf oil spill, has lost some legs since the flow of crude was stemmed. So the months and years of cleanup and the resulting effect on the environment will continue to be newsworthy, but certainly will be relegated to the back burner.

The newest big thing is waiting out there somewhere and eventually will grab the headlines. But we don’t know when that might happen — maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, maybe later. We do know the elections loom in November, and they’ll surely produce things to talk about.

But, for now, we wait and watch.

We even fabricate things to kick around.

For instance, football is just around the corner and that’s what dominates coffee shop conversations for now. How will Permian and Odessa High fare this fall? What about Texas Tech without the Mike Leach high-wire act? The Longhorns? TCU? The Aggies? Ah, lots of topics to explore without having to wring your hands and fret about the dire consequences. So your favorite team might have a bad season. It’s worth a little worry, but it’s manageable if it should happen.

But this is how slow it is. With pro football camps cranking up, one of the big sports stories this week was the soap opera in Cowboyland where Odessa’s own Roy Williams asked fellow wide receiver Dez Bryant to carry his pads after practice. Bryant’s a rookie and that sort of personal service is part of the rite of passage.

Except Bryant refused, turning it into a story, no matter how trivial, during these slow news times.

Thanks to a bored media contingent, we had debates over whether such hazing is acceptable. We had stories dissecting the dynamics of an underachieving and highly paid Williams choosing a youngster who might take his job as a target. And since Bryant had character issues in the past, some wondered whether this was just another in a line of incidents that will make the Cowboys regret their choice of Bryant.

Well, it wouldn’t have made a blip on any radar had it not involved the Cowboys, had it not been during a slow summer news period and had it not been the only departure from the norm right now in pro football.

Everybody will soon forget what passed for big news at the time. Then all the football followers can get back to constant speculation about what Brett Favre will do this time around.

But such stuff will have to do until the next blockbuster comes along to grab the headlines and round-the-clock coverage on all the cable programming. These days, the media types not only cover news, they tend to beat it to death.

Odessa, TX

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