Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Press Releases: Drinking games

Published in the Portland Phoenix

It's February, and time to cut loose on a ranting bender. Here is a media-themed drinking game you can play now that football season is over. All you need is a copy of each of the state's major daily newspapers: the Bangor Daily News, the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, and the Lewiston Sun Journal. (For added difficulty — both in the game and with supply acquisition — also include the Morning Sentinel, the Kennebec Journal, the Journal Tribune, the Times Record.) Each person will need a bottle of whiskey and a shot glass. A designated driver is also suggested, but optional if you're playing at home. With your buddies all gathered around a table, each grab a paper and start reading.
BASIC RULES Drink every time you encounter any of the following:
• A story in one paper that's credited to another paper (the Sun Journal does this most, so give that one to the strongest liver in the room)
• A story that's credited to the Associated Press, Reuters, or any other wire service (drink twice if that story is based in Maine and the paper was too lazy to send its own reporter)
• A story that's credited to "staff" without using an actual staff member's name
• Information you read on the Internet in the past 48 hours (including on that newspaper's website)
• Information you read days ago in a weekly newspaper, or on a weekly's website, but that the daily publishes without crediting the newspaper that actually broke the story (drink twice if that paper is the Portland Phoenix, and triple if that item was in the Phoenix more than a year ago and the daily's just figuring it out)
ADVANCED RULES Drink for these items too, which may require closer scrutiny:
• A story you heard on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network before it was in the newspaper (skip the drink if MPBN highlighted the story after the paper published it)
• A story the reporter did (or, based on its quality and detail, could have done) without leaving the newsroom
• A story for which the image or photograph is drawn from the newspaper's files, as opposed to something new
WHO WINS Whomever thinks the amount paid for their paper was well-spent. (Warning: this is likely to be the person who has drunk the most.)
BONUS ROUND In case you end up staring blankly at a TV that lacks any compelling sports programming, tune in to any local TV station's evening-news broadcast. Drink every time you see any of the following:
• A horrendous pun in on-screen text or scripted newsreading
• A mugshot or video of someone wearing an orange jumpsuit
• An emergency vehicle with its lights on
• A people-on-the-street series of interviews
• People attending a press conference (skip the drink if a reporter's question, and its answer from the speaker, is actually broadcast)
• A weather report that tells you less useful information than you'd learn by looking out the window
• A reporter standing outside struggling to remain upright and/or dry in inclement weather
• An awkward segue between radically different stories, like when your grandfather starts talking about "the gays" at Thanksgiving and your mother changes the topic to her new gravy recipe
• A sports story about a Boston-based team in which the reporter actually went to Boston (skip if preceded or followed by a story about a local team in which the reporter went to the nearby town)
Now, if there's any whiskey left in any of the bottles, you'll probably want to just drink it too.