Best Of 2001

Best News Story To R.I.P.: Steve Fossett, hot-air balloonist

Why kill this news story? It's great to hear about achievers -- that is, when they achieve. Hot-air balloonist Steve Fossett has only managed to try, year after year, and yet the news ink flows (at least 18 Post-Dispatch news stories this year, plus a Kevin Horrigan column comparing Fossett to perennial presidential candidate Harold Stassen). When you consider the thousands of stories to be told -- desperate welfare mothers trying to get out of the system, the debate over human cloning and stem-cell research, the difficulties in the Northern Ireland peace process, man-eating sharks, Viagra versus birth-control pills, not to mention the real reason Tom and Nicole divorced -- does the folly of the idle rich mean anything? To anybody? Used to be when people did the extraordinary, they made headlines. All the Fossett story says is that if you are rich enough, with millions to sink in a useless hobby, you can make news just for trying. The only time Fossett should get headlines is when he actually makes it around the world.

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