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Editorial: Good news?

The modern mainstream media takes plenty of heat from people who believe the days of serious, in-depth reporting have gone the way of reporters who wear fedoras.

Much of the criticism is unfair. There are still thoughtful stories out there. But there's also a lot more space to fill. The growing popularity of all-news networks and web pages that allow stories to go out at any time means the hard news stories people say they're looking for are usually drowned out within minutes by shouted opinions about the latest politician to say something stupid or young female celebrity who forgot to keep her knees together when she got out of her limousine.

Honestly, who can focus on the details of an economic bailout when we've got YouTube clips of someone casting the devil out of Sarah Palin?

Still, when the leadup to this year's historic election featured multiple news networks using high-tech display boards and questionable poll results to predict results as far as 47 weeks in advance and CNN spent a fair amount of its election night coverage conducting interviews with creepy holograms, people might have a point.

Last week Minnesota Public Radio's Bob Collins pointed out that the sixth question asked at president-elect Barack Obama's first news conference following the Nov. 4 election was about the kind of dog the new First Family would bring with it to the White House. Unless the question came from the White House Correspondent for Dog Fancy, I suspect someone wasn't quite grasping the significance of the moment.

Besides, everyone knows the only sensible choice is a labradoodle.

(While we're on the subject: If you're a kid is there a better place in the world than the White House to own a dog? You know you're never going to have to walk it, and cleaning up its messes? Forget about it. Someone else will take care of it before the next tour comes through.)

Meanwhile, I spent an entirely unreasonable amount of time Monday reading about Senator Obama's Oval Office meeting with president Bush. Maybe it's just the fact I can now get Associated Press updates on my phone whenever I want, but have we always spent so much time obsession over what is essentially an open house. Nobody knows for certain what the current president and the soon-to-be president talked about during their two-hour meeting, and yet the AP updated the story feverishly during the day, sharing details about, among other things, the fact Obama dropped his daughters off at school Monday morning, then went to the gym or the color dresses worn by Laura Bush (brown) and Michelle Obama (red).

So, now we know our future leader worked up a sweat before he flew halfway across the country so someone could tell him where all his new house's secret passages are. Awesome. I'm pretty sure Woodward and Bernstien wrote something similar before they broke the whole Watergate thing.