Steve Eaton: Jon Stewart and Sarah Palin in royal English wedding, and other fake headlines

Published: Friday, May 13 2011 4:25 p.m. MDT

The headline on this story is just a little misleading but it is byproduct of a new kind of journalism that is now my reality. I used to be a real journalist who wrote boring but important stories that appeared deep inside the newspaper. Back in those days Al Gore was the only person who had the Internet and you couldn’t read my stories until you had a newspaper in your hands. You’d get ink on your fingers as you digested the news. That’s the way it should be.

A real-life Harry Potter has angered Donald Trump who has now gone on the attack against law-abiding immigrants everywhere. Speculation mounts when broomstick sales are tied to Mitt Romney.

Now I’m a pretend journalist who submits columns once a week electronically. They are posted online and the value of what I write is judged by how many people click on the headlines that lead them to my columns. I put the name “Jimmer” in one of my headlines recently and it more than tripled the usual number of people who read my column. That’s why I’ve decided I need to keep throwing into my column certain phrases and words that will appeal to search engines and the refined news instincts of the online reader.

University of Utah embraces self-righteous BYU fans on the promise they will bring more rules and Mitt Romney to campus.

It’s kind of tiring and it breaks up my story flow, but it’s what I have to do, especially today because I plan to write about cassette tapes. I know, I know, no one wants to even admit cassette tapes were ever part of our lives. Well, they are still part of my life, and I don’t understand why people can’t become nostalgic about them like they have become about vinyl records.

Romney said he has not decided if he will run for president but does plan to fluff up his hair and visit Iowa with Jimmer, and Lady Ga Ga. Jimmer says global warming proves Constitution wrong.

I know this new generation doesn’t think much of cassette tapes because my kids turn their noses up at my own extensive collection. My music cassette library includes not just the oldies but modern music from the 1980s and early 1990s. Most of my tapes, however, are historical. I make cassette letters that I mail to my sister who is technologically challenged to the point that she won’t even carry a cellphone, allow the Internet in her home or invite Al Gore over for dinner.

Thrifty Bigfoot Democrats lash out against reasonable Tea Party activists, saying that Ronald Reagan would not have liked Ayn Rand because she was once on a UFO. Mitt Romney refuses to get involved but hints he might run for president in conversation with Charlie Sheen.

The handheld cassette recorder I’ve been using every day is battered, worn and held together with duct tape. More than once I have accidentally dropped kicked it under the car and …

You’re not listening, are you? These fake, alarming headlines have gotten you so worked up that you can’t wait to go to the comment section below so you can start doing online yelling at each other. I fear I’ve now drawn to my column offended Bigfoot terrorists who are now reading the Deseret News only to find out about how Jon Stewart will marry Sarah Palin in a royal English wedding. True, Ute fans are probably indignant at the ludicrous idea they would ever embrace annoying self-righteous BYU people when Ute fans are much, much more tolerant than the people in Provo who look down on others.

I don’t think this was such a good idea. I just wanted to write a column about cassette tapes. Now people are going to take me seriously and irate Tea Party leaders are going to write angry corrective remarks about there being no such thing as thrifty Democrats and reminding me that Jon Stewart and Sarah Palin aren’t even English. Now I could get death threats from U of U and BYU fans on the same day. And all I was trying to do is be an effective part of our new electronic age.

Are there really people out there who believe we should replace grumpy print editors with search engines? Those grouchy editors place stories in our path and inform us about grown-up things that can impact us in a direct, way more lasting than having Charlie Sheen over for family home evening.

I’ll tell you one thing, next time I write a column like this, I’m going to go after a group of people who have a sense of humor and would never be offended. I need to reach out to an audience so thick-skinned and open-minded that they would never try to muzzle me. In fact, I’ve got an idea. How’s this for a headline?

Liberal, commie journalists prove they are part of international conspiracy to promote lawless society ruled by Jerry Springer.

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. It has taken time, but the people there have become accustomed to him, and it has been weeks since there have been any "incidents." He can be reached at Eatonnews@gmail.com.

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