Amidst G20, DNC, B2B, SEO, GDP, and the Fed, there are some pretty darned important news stories – and apparently, they’re not fake either.

Periodically, I like to take stock of those news stories out there that are really significant –like manspreading.

I didn’t realize that manspreading was such a controversial subject. To be honest, I didn’t even know what it was – well, I knew, but I didn’t know it had a name. So bothersome it has become that cities everywhere have enacted ordinances with fines to alleviate the practice, i.e. mandating that no one should take up the space of more than one person in public transportation.

The latest story I read came from Julia Jones, CNN online, June 9, 2017, writing about a new campaign in Madrid, Spain, for “men to keep to one seat and one seat only.” Jones notes the Madrid Municipal Transport Company’s mission is to “remind people of the need to keep a civil behavior and respect the space of everyone on the bus.”

Jordan Burchette, also reporting for CNN on June 9, shared that while the matter seems a relatively new civility or etiquette issue, it’s actually re-appearing after a 180-year hiatus.

“In 1836, the Times of London published a series of guidelines for considerate coexistence on public transportation titled the Omnibus Law,” Burchette says. No. 5 on the list of 12 is this gem: Sit with your limbs straight, and do not with your legs describe an angle of 45, thereby occupying the room of two persons.”

“What was once an unspoken infraction is now a full-blown cultural construct,” Burchette adds. Other cities officially decrying the practice include New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

As I planned to move on to other examples of “important news,” I discovered that my first sentence about G20 and other XYZs in today’s media had been a bit prophetic, or at the very least, a happy coincidence. It seems that manspreading became an issue at the G20 Summit July 7-8 in Hamburg, Germany– at least for Chris Mathews of MSNBC.

On the July 8 airing of his “Hardball” evening news show, as Mathews discussed the long-awaited meeting of Vladimir Putin and President Trump, he said, “But the big story was the way they both engaged in the art of manspreading, widening their legs out as far as the wings of those chairs allowed them.”

Of course, I have no way of knowing whether the two leaders were consciously or unconsciously effecting postures with undertones of one-upsmanship. What did surprise me is that a story that caught my eye about the Madrid public transportation had taken me to the G20 Summit.

Now I’ve come to realize that this is par for the course in newspaper work sometimes – heading down a particular path only to end up somewhere else. My stream-of-consciousness strategy found me learning more about a specific story (rules against manspreading), discovering the matter at hand was really about civility and had quite a history (1836 Times of London excerpt), and then, all the sudden, making a hard righthand turn at Hamburg where a new story on the subject cropped up.

So much for other “important” stories this time around – maybe next week.

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