One of the first things a journalism student learns is the importance of writing a lead sentence or paragraph that grabs the reader’s attention and sets the tone for the story.

Sort of like this, from the New York Times

WASILLA, Alaska (AP) — The mother kneels in the snow, cheerfully posing beside her bundled up daughter, behind the bloody, dead caribou the mom just shot. Maybe not your typical family photo. But that’s Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the disarming mom who’s not afraid to carry arms or use them.

Cheerfully. Posing. Bloody. Dead. It seems Sarah Palin can’t shake the media’s fascination with her interest in hunting. To the national media it’s simply not normal behavior to kill and consume large animals, so like vultures spiraling down toward fresh roadkill they lock in on that aspect of her story. I can only imagine how a snapshot of Palin and her daughter posing beside a dead caribou stokes the imagination of your typical urban journalist, most of whom rarely venture anywhere their Blackberries don’t get coverage. As a result we get lurid descriptions of a scene millions of American hunters and their families would find completely normal.

On the other hand it seems a large segment of the hunting and shooting community has granted her sainthood based solely on the fact she likes moose stew and is a life member of the NRA. Being a carnivore with an interest in firearms doesn’t make you the second coming of Theodore Roosevelt. Like any candidate there are serious questions about Sarah Palin’s views on everything from environmental policy to religious intolerance to her alleged penchant for book banning, any of which would make more substantive material for explaining who Sarah Palin really is.

Instead, because most of the people we rely on for our national news are myopic urban twits with Bambi issues, we get descriptions of dead animals. So Sarah Palin shot a caribou. Great. Now go report on something that really matters.