It must have been a slow news day at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer last week. Tired with the day-in/day-out depressing coverage of war in the Middle East, the financial drama of Enron, and the pothole-filling wonders of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, the P-I took a break and decided to report about... drum roll please... mouth-watering VitaRain!

On Tuesday, April 2, P-I reporter Kathy Mulady wrote a story in the business section about VitaRain, the newest "vitamin enhanced" drink by local company Talking Rain. It's not uncommon for the business section in the P-I, or most dailies, for that matter, to do small "blurbs" on a local company's new product, but a full story? Worse yet, Mulady's story reads just like a press release. In fact, I got ahold of the original VitaRain press release and, surprise surprise, many of Mulady's sentences are nearly identical. For example:

Press release: VitaRain is a non-carbonated blend of purified water and natural fruit juice with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Mulady's P-I story: VitaRain is a non-carbonated blend of water and fruit juice with added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Mulady goes on to describe the six VitaRain flavors, like VitaVision, "a blueberry and cranberry flavored drink with added vitamins A, C, E, and lutien, which has been shown to improve eye health." Amazing. I'm gonna go buy some right now! Despite the laziness of writing a story from a press release, and the fact that Talking Rain essentially got free advertising, Mulady didn't give the reader any context, something a good journalist might be expected to do. If she had, P-I readers would know that many of the new VitaRain drinks have only 20 percent of the recommended daily dosage of vitamins. Meaning--you would have to drink a shitload of that VitaVision to improve your "eye health."

pat@thestranger.com

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