Is there an echo in here?

| May 27, 2008

You expect two major newspapers — say, the Washington Post and the New York Times — to cover the same major news stories, each with its own particular slant. What you don’t expect is for these two news papers to run, on exactly the same day (today), feature articles over virtually the same subject, particularly when that subject is probably not that big a topic in perspective.

The Washington Post: “Shuttered Homes, Thriving Wildlive” by Nick Miroff (5/27/08):

In neighborhoods across the region, a potent recipe is brewing on the front lawns and in the back yards of thousands of homes emptied by foreclosures. The combination of a rainy spring and a flood of the unkempt houses has local governments increasingly concerned about public health and struggling to keep nature at bay. As more people move out, the grass grows taller, the water puddles up and the wild things move in.

Mosquitoes thrive in the empty swimming pools and junk piles that have been filled and refilled by the recent rains. Ticks flourish in the tall grass. So do rodents, which also like the shelter of dry, empty houses and whatever garbage they might contain. Then come the snakes, with the rest of the animal kingdom not far behind.

“Anything that is not maintained creates a potential attraction for a lot of opportunistic wildlife,” said Scott McCombe, general manager for Critter Control of Northern Virginia, an animal-removal agency that specializes in nonlethal methods. “And this is typically the season when things start to get rocking and rolling.”

The New York Times: “Contractors Are Kept Busy Maintaining Abandoned Homes” by Vikas Bajaj (5/27/08):

These contractors and thousands like them see first hand the detritus of the subprime era: peeling paint, gutted interiors, family dogs left behind to starve, overgrown lawns infested with snakes.

In Florida, the crisis can seem overwhelming at times.

It can take months, even years, for some homes to wind through foreclosure in the backlogged local courts.

The longer a home sits vacant, the more vulnerable it becomes.

After a few months, the Florida weather starts to takes a toll. Mold and mildew creep. Algae chokes forsaken swimming pools. Sometimes vandals strike. And sometimes wiring or plumbing just give out.

It’s clear that these articles were researched and written separately, but the points of similarities between them is interesting nevertheless. I suspect that the authors this morning feel a bit like two women do when they show up at a party or formal event wearing nearly identical outfits. Or maybe they think it’s cool. As the quip goes, “If another guy shows up at the party wearing the same outfit, you just might become lifelong friends.”

Nah. I’d go with embarrassment. ..bruce w..

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Category: Humor, Journalism, Main

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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