Archive for the ‘journalism’ Category

Quote of the Day

Posted on: December 20th, 2009 by admin No Comments

“Those who unfeelingly push and jostle one another all the rest of the year smile on each other today, tell of the dangers they escaped, exchange addresses, and walk along with new friends. The squares are mountains of snow over which the icy lacework clinging like filigree to the branches of the trees glitters in the morning sun.”

—José Martí, “New York Under the Snow” (1888)

If I Were a Betting Man

Posted on: October 9th, 2009 by admin No Comments

I’d put my money on this: it’s just a matter of minutes before Fox News starts a feedback loop about how today’s Nobel announcement brings shame to America. (I wonder if there are people running virtual office pools using PayPal.)

In the Nothing New Under the Sun Department

Posted on: August 18th, 2009 by admin No Comments

It turns out the insanity that takes hold of the news cycle in August (angry health care haters, birthers, shark attacks) was identified in the late nineteenth century. The British call it Silly Season, and in Germany it’s Pickle Time.

First the Good News

Posted on: July 26th, 2009 by admin No Comments

While newspapers and magazines elsewhere are cutting back on crosswords, the Harrisburg Patriot-News is adding more puzzles to the paper.

Now the bad: they’re adding sudoku and KenKen®.

I’m quoted in the article and, FYI: I do not say “play crosswords.”

W(h)ither Crosswords?

Posted on: July 19th, 2009 by admin No Comments

Anne Trubek, writing for Good magazine online, asks if crosswords are destined to go the way of the newspaper. (Along the way she mentions my skepticism about the ability of crosswords to protect us from dementia.) I think her question is worth asking. Her post has prompted more than 70 comments and counting, many in vehement disagreement.

Not That I Condone Violence

Posted on: June 15th, 2009 by admin No Comments

but …

among my major regrets in life, one is that we did not act a little more like the Iranian people after our own presidential disaster in 2000.

I did try to stir up outrage with the hope of organized protest. To this day, I can’t shake the memory of a left-leaning colleague who counseled me, condescendingly, that it was important to “move on.”

Such terrible advice. And hindsight is not required to know it. At the time, even, that line from Yeats replayed itself in my head like a stuck record. I wish the poet were alive today so that I could argue with him: if they truly were the “best,” then they wouldn’t lack all conviction, would they?

As the 2002 midterm elections approached, it was time to vote again, and for the life of me I couldn’t see the point of it. Unless all votes are counted, the exercise is empty.

The weekend before election day, I tried to argue my case to former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. (Click here and then fast forward to 1:39 to skip past the show intro and listen to the interview. Sorry, but WNYC still requires RealPlayer.)

I bring this up again now to set the record straight. The governor characterized my position this way: “I [Dean] didn’t get what I want when I vote, so why should I vote? They’re not really listening to me.”

I can’t remember what happened next in the raw, unedited interview. There are two possibilities. The first is that I wasn’t quick enough on my feet to press the point. The second is that I did press the point but a producer took it out, thinking it unimportant, and I wasn’t hovering closely enough to make sure it was left in.

What needed to be said next was this: “No, Governor. That’s not it at all. Actually, in November of 2000, we didn’t have enough information about George Bush to hate him yet. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt about compassionate conservatism. It has nothing to do with what I want. The disaster was that when all the votes were counted, the American people had voted the other way. When all the votes were counted—and this point has never sunk in, perhaps because it’s too horrifying to contemplate—Gore had won not only the popular vote but also the Electoral College. I would shut up about it if Bush had really been the candidate America wanted in 2000.”

Of course, then came the 2004 election, which rendered me speechless. But that’s another matter.

One thing the governor said seems alive again in light of Iranians’ response to their election results. He said: “This is a system that rewards involvement and punishes aloofness.” I hope to have a chance in my lifetime to witness if that is true.

The Left Hand Doesn’t Know What the Left Hand Is Doing

Posted on: January 10th, 2009 by admin 1 Comment

If the cover story in this weekend’s N.Y. Times magazine seems familiar, that’s because the paper ran essentially the same piece on its front page in November of 2007.

It’s nearly impossible to imagine what the editors were thinking when they commissioned the current article. For sure, Steven Pinker is a brand-name author, but it’s not as if the first go-around failed to grab attention: it was part of a series that earned the reporter, Amy Harmon, a Pulitzer Prize.

Perhaps the most astonishing part of the whole thing is that both articles share identical headlines.

Clearly, the paper’s institutional memory spans less than 14 months.

In the bad old days when a newspaper archive was kept on paper–in a filing cabinet, in the morgue, in the basement–such a thing might be understandable. But a blunder as big as this one makes me wonder: don’t they have Internet access in the newsroom?

2008 Will Be Remembered as the Year I Finally Gave Up on the Print Edition of the New York Times

Posted on: December 18th, 2008 by admin No Comments

Or did it give up on me?

The Housatonic at Stockbridge

Posted on: October 28th, 2008 by admin No Comments

from my riff on Three Places in New England by Charles Ives.

Check It Out

Posted on: October 25th, 2008 by admin No Comments

New, original reporting in sound by my grad students, at The End of the Dial. They’ve got some pretty cool stuff going on, including, this week, a piece from Upper Darby, PA, on the “reverse Bradley effect.”