Saturday, June 25, 2005

'New' Journalism--Being Beaten By 6 Hours, Then Calling It 'Breaking News'

Excuse me.

It took 5 minutes for me to get started with this because I've been laughing so much.

It's pretty funny stuff.

I opened my local paper this morning and saw at the top of Section C [that's the sports section] that there was some "BREAKING NEWS."

I guess that means the people who put out the paper have been watching too much cable TV again.


What the local paper's desperate-for-circulation editors are trying to pass off as BREAKING NEWS was a story about former Iowa State and present Minnesota Timberwolves basketball player Fred Hoiberg being headed to heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic.

I had the BREAKING NEWS about Hoiberg on this web page at least 6 hours before the local paper was on my front porch.

I have nothing against the local paper using the story on Hoiberg. All of us around here are interested in the career of this Iowan who's been called "The Mayor" for many years.

Just don't try to fool people and call it BREAKING NEWS when there's not a damn thing breaking about it.

The only thing breaking these days at the local paper are the the daily and Sunday circulation numbers, which have reached all-time lows.

Meanwhile, what follows is the latest dispatch from the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the Hoiberg situation.

Notice that the story was last updated at 11:37 p.m. Friday. If you hear that clowns at the local paper are trying to call it BREAKING NEWS in tomorrow's local paper, just start laughing.

A lot of the rest of us are already laughing.

Last update: June 24, 2005 at 11:37 PM
Heart surgery will sideline Wolves' Hoiberg
Kent Youngblood, Star Tribune
June 25, 2005

On Friday, days away from heart surgery, the Timberwolves' Fred Hoiberg talked about the things he wanted -- no, very much needed -- to do in his life.

Being there for his wife, Carol, is on top of the list. He'd like to walk down the aisle one day with his daughter, Paige, when she gets married. Or coach son Jack's basketball team, and watch twins Sam and Charlie grow up. Just call it Hoiberg's top five things to live for.

"My world has been turned upside down," Hoiberg said. "That's when priorities get set."

Hoiberg, a reserve guard, will be at the Mayo clinic Tuesday for surgery to correct an enlarged aortic root.

He has been told he should be able to play again, but he said he would consider retiring if it would put him in danger.

The technical diagnosis is an aortic root aneurysm. That means there is a bulge -- and presumably weakness -- in the root, which is where the artery meets the heart's aortic valve.

Hoiberg played the entire 2004-05 season with the condition, which put him one hard hit from potential disaster.

"Had I taken a significant blow to that area, it could have caused a rupture," Hoiberg said. "It could have gone ... I remember taking a hard charge from Karl Malone in the [2004] playoffs. I took it right in the ribs. If that had happened last year, that could have caused something. That's something really scary to think about. I think back to last year, how disappointing it was for us not to make the playoffs. But for me personally, it probably was a blessing we didn't make the playoffs."

Dr. Kevin Harris, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, is not familiar with the specifics of Hoiberg's case, but he is familiar with the condition. He said normally the aneurysm is removed and replaced by a graft made of a synthetic material. Hoiberg said his condition also is affected by an abnormally shaped aortic valve in his heart. He's known about that condition since college and says it might need to be addressed later in life.

Still, Hoiberg has been told a full recovery is expected, that he should be able to return to the game. He said he is confident he can play three or four more years if everything heals correctly.

"But if there is any doubt at all, even a 1 percent chance that anything could happen, I'll walk away [from basketball]," Hoiberg said. "I'll go on with my life. If there is any risk at all, I'll move on."

Hoiberg's return for the 2005-06 season seems like a long shot. He said the recovery could take three months.

"You don't want to put a timetable on it," Hoiberg said. "The surgeon said that maybe even more than the heart healing is the sternum healing. The procedure involves sawing open the chest bone, opening ribs, going to work on the heart. If you try to come back and do anything before the bones are fully healed, you're really looking at a long recovery, as much as a couple years."

All that said, Hoiberg can't help but set at least a vague goal. "I'm determined to play again," he said. "I know I'm not supposed to set a date, but maybe I could look at trying to do some things around the All-Star break [in February]. If I could come back, make a contribution to the team, I'll work my tail off to get back in great shape."

It was in January when Hoiberg started getting hints of a problem. He was trying to get some additional life insurance but kept getting rejected by companies because of his enlarged aortic root. He talked to team medical director Dr. Sheldon Burns, who suggested, to be safe, that Hoiberg have further tests at Mayo Clinic.

That was when the problem was diagnosed. "They start getting worried about the aortic root when it gets to about 42 millimeters for a guy my size," Hoiberg said. "It was 47 in January. When they measured it after the season, it was 56. That rapid progression, it was something to worry about."

Surgery could probably have been put off for up to a year, but Hoiberg said he would not have been cleared to play. "The best thing was to get this thing done, get on the road to recovery," he said.

In the past few weeks, Hoiberg said he has tried to learn more about his condition, hoping that knowledge would help ease his fears. He has told a few friends about his upcoming surgery, and he has tried to prepare himself for it.

"There is no question that basketball plays second fiddle to this," Hoiberg said. "It does make you realize how important family is."

Kent Youngblood is at


I don't know why people would believe anything they hear at the funny farm known as "The-Local-Ballpark-That's-Always-Going-To-Be-Sec-Taylor-Stadium-To-Me."

People who run that "Money-Grabbing, Let's-See-If-We-Can Get-That-Last-Dollar-Out-Of-Your-Pocket" operation say 13,669 people coughed up ticket money to watch Kerry [How Soon Will I Be Traded to the Texas Rangers?] Wood in yet another rehab appearance last night.

It's one of those things that a savvy reporter would call "an announced crowd" or "a make-believe crowd."

Just so you'd know, one of the 13,669 wasn't me.

"Cinderella Man" at the Sierra last night was a much more enjoyable show. And the popcorn was not only cheaper at the Sierra, but better, too.