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Going to the dogs?

[ 2009-04-03 13:47]     字号 [] [] []  
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Going to the dogs?Reader question: In this sentence – Traditional newspapers and magazines are going to the dogs – what does “going to the dogs” mean exactly?

My comments: Have you ever taken food from a restaurant?

Waiters and waitresses wrap it up into little boxes for you to take away with and those boxes are called “doggy bags”. Why? Because presumably when people first started asking for the bags, they said they wanted to take the food they couldn’t eat to feed their dogs at home.

Going to the dogs?

Presumably because leftover food wasn’t considered fit for people but were good for their best friend.

Anyways, that’s the literal meaning of “going to the dogs”, an age-old American (I think) idiom widely used on both sides of the Atlantic.

Figuratively, the idiom can be used on people or businesses. If a person is said to be going to the dogs, he’s suffering either poor health, financial trouble or some other dire situation.

In the case of newspapers and magazines going to the dogs, it means that in face of growing competition from online, the traditional print media are losing customers, some even facing bankruptcy. For example, the hundred-year old Seattle Pose-Intelligencer, covering the State of Washington and other areas, last month closed its print paper altogether and is now Internet-only.

In short, if something is going to the dogs, it’s in serious decline, wasting away or staring rack and ruin downright in the face.

Alright. This, from the Daily Mail (Going to the dogs: How Nature magazine featured Obama and McCain ... with an unfortunate ad on the back, DailyMail.co.uk, September 26, 2008):

Has the American presidential campaign gone to the dogs? One could be forgiven for thinking so after seeing the latest issue of Nature magazine. The world’s leading scientific journal has featured a powerful image of John McCain and Barack Obama on its front cover. The pair radiate statesmanlike-authority, the image is suitably sombre for the weighty interview inside. Then, however, you see the back cover  (See picture).

Going to the dogs?

In an unfortunate choice, advertisers placed there an image of two labrador pups - one black, one golden, in an uncanny mirror image of the grave image on the front.

The dogs strike eerily similar poses to Barack Obama, the first black American presidential candidate for a major political party, and his Republican rival John McCain, tanned golden brown from the Arizona sun. The journal swears it is horrified by the coincidence. “We didn’t know until the issue landed on our desks,” Nature pleaded to the media. “It just goes to show that editorial and advertising aren’t working in cahoots.”



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.