The state of professional journalism’s credibility in this country must truly be at an all-time low. Now I don’t think this because of all the blowhard bloggers who believe that any monkey with a keyboard can do the same job as any professional journalist. But it is stories like The Sacramento Bee‘s May 23 “investigative journalism” piece on coffee pricing at Starbucks Coffee — and how the media lemmings have followed in (bloggers and traditional media alike) — that make me think that Dan Rather’s use of the Killian documents at least feigned intelligence.

Yes, the story here is the non-story. And it goes something like this…

Bored reporters at The Sac Bee apparently managed to carve out some free time between “rip and read” reporting on regurgitated press releases. So one of them decides to try out his son’s algebra homework on the Starbucks drink menu: Food & Wine/Taste – A cup of confusion – sacbee.com. The shocking discovery? For three shots of espresso and hot water in a 12-ounce cup, you can order a “Grande Americano” in a “tall” cup for $2 or a “Tall Americano” with an “extra shot” for $2.30. Call Mike Wallace! That extra 30¢ clued in these Woodward wannabes that something smells fishy in Starbucks-land, and it ain’t the mermaid on a hot day.

Apparently, these Bee reporters pursued this story for two months before revealing their exposé. Last week it was cited in The Consumerist, and in the past several days numerous media outlets have also picked up on this scandal.

My reaction was to smack myself in the forehead. Flashing before my eyes … that time I traded in a used car as part of a new car sale, and I suspected that the net price might be different if I sold the used car separately. Or that time I went to a movie theater and some teen behind the counter offered to upgrade my popcorn and soda to the respective sofa-stuffing and swimming pool sizes for a mere extra 50¢. Ugh! Pure Pulitzer gold moments I completely blew it on!