Saturday, October 19, 2002

let's be fair in new york

we got this email from fairness & accuracy in reporting:

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

Upcoming FAIR event in NYC--

FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) presents

"Showdown" with Iraq?
Media hype threat, miss human costs

a talk by Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq Under Siege & Frida Berrigan, World Policy Institute

Friday, November 1, 6:30 PM
Housing Works Used Book Café
126 Crosby St (between Prince and Houston), New York
Free and Open to the Public

Thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed during the 1991 Gulf War, and U.S.-imposed sanctions have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands since. Far from liberating the country, the devastation of Iraq's people and infrastructure has likely helped dictator Saddam Hussein to remain in power. Yet as a new Iraq war looms, mainstream U.S. media seem to be afflicted by near-total amnesia over these human and political costs. At the same time, many outlets have followed the Bush administration's lead in portraying Iraq as is the most urgent threat to global stability, uncritically accepting that the proposed attack on Iraq is part of a "war on terror."

Mainstream media rarely ask how the Bush administration's rhetoric compares with reality-- has the U.S.'s role really been to end repressive regimes and stop weapons proliferation? In fact, the U.S. has long been one of the world's main arms suppliers, and since September 11, the U.S. has dramatically expanded its military presence abroad while eschewing diplomacy in favor of military action. Please join FAIR for a talk about why this context is often missing from media discussions of the Iraq crisis, and what the real costs of a new war might be.

Anthony Arnove is the editor of Iraq Under Siege and of Terrorism and War. An activist and freelance writer based in Brooklyn, he is on the editorial board of the International Socialist Review.

Frida Berrigan is a senior research associate of the Arms Trade Resource Center at the New School University's World Policy Institute.

This is the latest of FAIR’s monthly media talks at Housing Works. Past topics have included media coverage of AIDS drugs and Africa, the “drug war” in Colombia, the Battle of Seattle, biotech, the Zapatistas, Iraq, and more. All talks are free and open to the public.

Friday, October 18, 2002

doesn't seem like old 'times'

here's our letter to the la times concerning the massive changes in their calendar section:

Dear Los Angeles Times,

I'd like to thank you for adding the most valuable commodity possible to my life: Time.

I used to spend a couple of hours every Sunday morning lounging with my wife and a cup of coffee, perusing the Sunday Times. But now, thanks to the new harder-to-read format, you've totally eliminated my desire to spend any time at all with your newspaper, thus giving me an extra two hours per weekend.

I am no expert in fonts, but it's obvious you have changed yours, to something more round, fatter and darker than before, thus adding to the generally muddy and overly-busy look of the Calendar section. Add to this the merging of what was left of the Living (formerly Style) section, and the result, instead of a place chock-full of information, seems more like somebody's attic where they shoved everything they didn't have anywhere else to put.

Your by-lines, which used to be big and bold and easy to read, are now smaller, with more space above and below them. It seems like you want the by-lines to stand out, but want the readers to work really hard to read them; talk about passive-aggressive publishing!

And now you have so many lines separating the stories, where before you would assume that the reader was smart enough to follow the wrap-around to the next line in the same column when they came to a big blank space.

Perhaps I'd be willing to tolerate the new, messier, uglier typeface on a daily basis, but the change from magazine-style Sunday Calendar to full-size bulky gotta-fold-it-if-you-wanna-hold-it newspaper size for Sunday Calendar puts you over the line of acceptability for a relaxing weekend.

I wish i were younger and my eyes weren't as bad as they are; I wish I didn't need reading glasses for things up close reading, glasses that are totally unworkable to see anything more than an arm's length away, but I am, and I do. So now your new size demands that I either hold the whole section in my hands and move it around to get the various stories close to my face, or lay it sprawled across the breakfast table, and I adjust my own head and body up and down to read the top part of the page. Relaxing? I don't think so.

And, it seems like you might need a dictionary down there. Your "Comics-Plus" section turns out to be a very Orwellian "Comics-Minus" menagerie, eliminating some of my favorite strips. No more gentle, warm humor of "Mutts," or "Shirley and Son," or the stalwart "Mary Worth," which has been in production since before most of your editors and copy writers were born, I'd wager. These family-friendly comics will be sorely missed by me. And I am sure that "Sylvia" and "Over The Hedge," had a huge readership, and "Agnes" and "That's Life" will be missed as well. I wonder how you can discontinue 7 strips and use the word "Plus" in your section title.

And, just out of curiosity, did you have to fire your proof-readers to afford paying for the brain-trust that came up this new pseudo-New-York-Times format?

On Monday, Oct. 14, George Skelton's Capitol Journal on page B-5, told the story of a Times reader who had some clever suggestions about the current gubernatorial race. This reader, one "Denny Freidenrich of Laguna Beach" suggests "[Simon's] an embarrassment to the political process in general and the Republican Party in particular. Not only should he fired the aide [who plotted Simon's false fund-raising charge against Davis], he should fire himself...

"Without needing to spend millions on TV commercials, Davis should pledge to [give] half his campaign war chest to the states general fund. This translates into about $10 million for food for needy kids, help for disabled seniors, more teacher aides in classrooms, etc."

Good idea, and cute and clever way to start a column, Mr. Skelton. But then, on page B10, under the Letters to the Times section, I found the following, contained in the second letter:

"Mr. Simon you are an embarrassment to the political process in general and the Republican Party in particular. You should fire the campaign aides who came up with the idea to publicly discredit Davis, and while you're at it, fire yourself as well.

"With his challenger out of the race and without having to spend millions on TV commercials, Davis should then pledge to return half his campaign war chest to the states general fund. He could donate about $10 million to programs to feed needy children, help disabled seniors or put more teacher aides in classrooms, for example."

And the signature of this almost carbon-copy thesis? Not Denny Freidenrich, but one A.L. Cynton of Laguna Beach.

Now, either there's a ring of letter-plagiarists running around Laguna Beach that hoodwinked both Mr. Skelton and the Editorial staff of the Times, or you guys could use a proof-reader.

Ok, maybe that's nit-picking. Maybe I'm just a little angry about having to adjust my Sunday Calendar up and down to be able to read the top and bottom parts of it, when I actually can find what I'm looking for in that new, murky, hard-to-read version.

Or maybe you just need proof readers. Wednesday, October 16, I looked for the TV listings to see what's on for that night, and what do I find in the back of the Calendar? "Tuesday Primetime Television." Yes, it was indeed, the entire listing for all Tuesday day and all Tuesday night for every single channel, printed on Wednesday. Not very helpful. And you would think somebody down there might mention, "Uh, hey, guys? Isn't this Wednesday's paper? Why are we printing Tuesday's listing?"

God, how I miss the Herald Examiner.


etc. etc.

win the war with bumperstickers

we got this email from

Check out the new feature at

Also, the Anti-War stickers are now available in bulk. Please forward...

These are a huge hit, and so we're selling them in bundles
of 10, 50 and 100 -- at cost, pennies per sticker.
Stick these up everywhere!

1. "Regime Change Starts at Home"
2. "Anyone But Bush 2004"
3. "Forget Saddam, Where's Osama?"
4. "Gulf War I: Blood for Oil
Gulf War II: Blood for Votes"

Your humble "wartime" Webmaster,

Zack Exley

say hello

to dr. limerick and changing the canvas and the story so far and john quiggin and how appealing (a very fine law blog).

guest hostess with the mostest

be sure to drop by eric alterman's column today, where our good friend jeralyn merritt of talkleft is pulling guest host duties, and she's doing her usual fine job!


so many great blogs have linked to us this past week, and our site meter counter went up so high, we thought we were glenn reynolds for a second! we must now take time to thank everybody who was kind enough to direct net surfers to our words...

most recently, we thank avedon carol of the sideshow for taking off on our rant about bloggers being as good as media talking heads. dr. carol expounds upon our thesis quite eruditely, in fact, even better than we did, with great specific examples!

and so many people seemed to enjoy our screed about chickenhawks, we have to thank lean left and pla and ruminate this!, and the gweilo diaries and blue streak and seeing the forest and sisyphus shrugged.

and we certainly stirred up a hornets nest with our argument in favor of ballistic fingerprinting. gail davis took the con to our pro, and the hamster and talkleft kindly linked to it, as well. (by the way, hamster, tapped didn't put us on their blogroll either! so screw 'em!)

of course, we shouldn't really count silflay hraka who publishes us every week in their on-going series carnival of the vanities, which includes plenty of fine writing by plenty of fine bloggers. go check it out, and if you'd like to participate, drop bigwig a line there at silflay.

and last but not least, thanks to freepie for thanking us back! you're welcome!