If It Feeds, It Leads: Fat People, Denny's and a Post-Dispatch Conspiracy

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This little item may not have merited a story until now.

The most popular stories on stltoday.com for Feb. 24. - STLTODAY.COM
  • stltoday.com
  • The most popular stories on stltoday.com for Feb. 24.
Here's the background: Yesterday I get a message from someone curious about an article on the Post-Dispatch's Web site, stltoday.com. For three weeks the article about a free breakfast giveaway at Denny's has remained the "most popular" story on the paper's Web site despite being of little importance or newsworthiness.

So what's the fascination with the story? Nothing, apparently. Almost all the 100-plus comments (some of which have been deleted) that the story generated had to do with the photo used to illustrate the article. That picture features an African-American family dining on pancakes and bug juice.

Yesterday I left Post-Dispatch executive editor Arnie Robbins a voicemail asking him about the story and the photo. Robbins didn't return my call, but sometime between my phone call and today the photo has disappeared from stltoday.com.

Thankfully, I got a screen capture of the picture yesterday. Here it is.

STLTODAY.COM
  • stltoday.com


I guess you could say that the photo fits the story -- even if the restaurant doesn't look all that "slammed" by the free breakfast promotion.

Online readers, meanwhile, have had a field day commenting on the photo. And many of those comments (below) have not been very nice.

Whenever I am having a bad day, I just look at this photo and I feel pretty good about myself. this photo is great. Thanks PD for taking this and making my life a little more enjoyable. -- boredatwork

...I personally email this story several times a day to my friends and co-workers. This story is a running joke at work. -- The Burning Bush

Let me know if those wings were free. Dem wings look good, boy. Tubby seems to be ejoying them. I'm getting me some wings and red drank for lunch. Mmmmmmm hmmmmmm! -- Irene My Queen

I will bet any money that the obese family did not leave one cent tip. They probably waddled their fat backsides out the door and said: 'you don't have to tip them, its their job.' And as mentioned before: why didn't that woman have her darlings in school? Oh wait, she's teaching them to be a drain on society. never mind. -- Bud Fox
Somehow I don't think that the family thought they'd be in line for such abuse when they agreed to be photographed for the story. But then, I suppose that's the risk you take when you allow readers to comment to stories online.

The curious thing is that the paper (which recently launched a blog calling for a "candid" and "civil" conversation on race) allowed this photo to remain up for so long when so many of its comments had sharp racist overtones. I imagine, though, that the photo brought a good deal of traffic to the Web site and the Post-Dispatch advertising department has to be happy about that.


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