The lead story in James Taranto’s “Best of the Web” column is on a bit of fantasy report by Jay Forman a few years back, something about monkeyfishing. Is there a mindset in the press with a weakness for outrageous stories?
This one is for Michael, who raised a question about the need for definitions in our post on reading the classics. World reporter Timothy Lamer asks, “Is the newspaper industry about to die or experience a revival? The answer may depend on whom you ask and how you define the word newspaper.” Heh, heh.
The point of the article is to quote some folks about how newspapers will survive and can they make money online. I think a subscription for the Chattnaooga Times-Free Press (formerly two papers, one of which was the Chattanooga News-Free Press, a far superior name don’t you think?) for a year is $120. If the cost was $50/year and it was only online, would I subscribe for the sake of local news? I don’t know. Maybe I would. I think I’d have to see the offer when it comes, much like the 2008 presidential election questions being asked now. I don’t know if I would vote for Giuliani or McCain. I don’t want to vote for either of them. So, I’ll wait and see what the options are.
I just learned of this new ArtsJournal blog on books: BookDaddy. Jerome Weeks has been book columnist for The Dallas Morning News before starting this blog, and here he describes the state of book coverage at that paper, if not in newspapers generally. On increasing revenue for book coverage, he suggests:
If the [American Association of Publishers] wanted to do anything, it could try to convince advertisers that the readers of books pages may not be the young illiterates with poor impulse control that marketers currently want but neither are they the old and the dying, as conventional ad wisdom has it. They’re a well-off, often media-savvy and intellectually- and socially-involved audience. This is not some wildly unconventional, radical re-think: TV networks have come to respond to an older audience (the kids are all off in the clubs or on the computer) and has long positioned “geezer” ads for its news programming. Why not the arts pages?
Sounds good to me. I want to be concerned about newspaper coverage, but I don’t subscribe to any of them. I have picked up a few Friday Wall Street Journals because of Terry Teachout, and I look at the local Sunday paper at my parents house, but I don’t care to spend the money on a subscription I wouldn’t read. I do that with other things already. (Thanks to Books, Inc. for pointing out Mr. Weeks’ blog.)
An interesting language point from Opinion Journal:
[In a Reuters story]:
An Iranian woman now living in a homeless shelter in Manhattan, was once a leader in a terrorist group based in Iraq trying to overthrow the Tehran government, federal authorities said in court documents on Monday.
A what group? Isn’t one man’s terrorist another’s freedom fighter? Where are the scare quotes?
Oh wait, she was trying to overthrow the Iranian government, not just wantonly murdering civilians. That’s very different.
Bravo, Mr. Taranto.
A picture is worth a thousand words unless you don’t have the right words to match it. Take the photos coming out of Lebanon and Israel these days. What are the right words? As shown here, the words given them by some news editors are so wrong you have to wonder why that particular news was unfit to print. And here’s another example from the same site.
Robertson suggested Hezbollah has “very, very sophisticated and slick media operations,” that the terrorist group “had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn’t have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath,” and he even contradicted Hezbollah’s self-serving spin: “There’s no doubt that the [Israeli] bombs there are hitting Hezbollah facilities.”
This report by Borys Kit states that Hollywood knows where to woo and make-up with “pop culture’s smart set”–at the largest comic book convention in the country. A quick run-down:
- Bryan Singer announced that he was discussing the sequel to his Superman movie. The crowd loved the idea, despite the many problems they had with it.
- How about this answer Singer gave to the fan who thought that having an illegitiate child would compromise Superman’s character: “Love in the modern world takes many forms,” he said. “There are many kinds of families that exist now, and sometimes pregnancies occur unintentionally, and it’s a choice to have a child.” Profound.
- Principles from Spiderman 3 appeared.
- Samuel L. Jackson, who hails from Chattanooga, TN, bowled over the crowds.
- Studios showed excerpts from “Children of Men,” “Stardust,” and “Eragon.”
- Bryan Singer said comic books will prove to be the mythology of our age.
So the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal ran details reports on a government program which spies on the money trail left by suspected terrorists. President Bush called the reports “disgraceful” and harmful to the war on terror. Others have called it treason. I heard the NY Times chief editor (I believe) say the president needs to be restrained, presumably by him.
What do you think? Was it treasonous for the paper to report on this or are they free to do so under the first amendment?