Last week the Wall Street Journal published yet another recession-themed article that was cited all over the Internet: No More Perks: Coffee Shops Pull the Plug on Laptop Users – WSJ.com. It seemed that every local media outlet followed suit (Coffee Shops Serve Laptop Users a New Blend | NBC Bay Area), with the story spreading as far as London newspapers (US coffee shops pull plug on laptop lounging – Americas, World – The Independent).

To read all the coverage, you’d think that the struggle between café owners and laptop squatters was a brand new phenomenon with a sudden crackdown centered in New York City. This despite the fact that local cafés such as Four Barrel Coffee were deliberately opened with a “no-WiFi” policy to intentionally correct the laptop-friendly “mistakes” of Ritual Coffee Roasters.

At least on the West Coast, this issue has been debated for years … with layers of stories about cafés that cover up their electrical outlets, groups of people who start companies in coffee shops until they’re forced to afford their own space, etc. We suppose the media lesson here is that nothing truly exists until it first happens in New York City. Which must explain why good coffee shops apparently did not exist until about 2006. (Or at least coffee shops that were decent enough to hang out in with a laptop.)

In any case, the WSJ was recently one-upped in recession-era reporting by London’s Guardian yesterday: Workers shun coffee shops in favour of vending machines | Business | guardian.co.uk.