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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I do not want to take issue with the thrust of your article: I fully endorse the view that in the absence of journalism we stare into a dangerous new abyss. But I would argue that the reason a certain type of content has become redundant over time is that is has simply not been practiced very extensively for some time.

We mourn the loss of "journalism" and yet the Western media have managed over the past ten years, to preside over seven years of a manufactured war and actively fuel a financial tsunami, while offering barely a murmur of dissent. How much worse could they have performed, I wonder? In short, we have little more than very well produced, wonderfully packaged junk for news for the longest time. They may still be called "newspapers," but I am not sure how many still deserve that description.

So now that people have become accustomed to a media diet without"roughage" and they can self-select their content, is it any wonder that they continue to opt for the shiny stuff?

The Fourth Estate was supposed to be our watchdog. But in the past decade it has done little more than sit on its well-paid arse while it watched us getting bitten. As sorry as I am that I will soon have no protection whatsoever, I just wish I could have traded in that dog for the real thing some time ago.

Luca Menato

Cheltenham, England, UK

Mar 20 2009 - 7:16am

Web Letter

I am not a gifted writer, but I have a thoughts regarding the comments to the article.

I found the information pertaining to the corporate laws in India, the fact that there are no big grocery or other kinds of corporate chains in general, and the resulting enhancement of freedom, to be very enlightening.

What I believe to be even more elightening is that in the USA we enhance freedom by giving the big and small newspaper entities the right to run themselves according to their own values.

Of course, this freedom to choose how to run one's business according to ones own values entails diversity of values, and the risk that those values may or may not lead to success or failure.

With a bailout, when a business is run according to the certain set of values and is successful, the profits accrue to the owner; however, when the same business fails the losses accrue to the taxpayers and their children.

I personally care more about my tax burden and my children than I do about some mismanaged newspapers whose values led to their demise.

Dirk MacMillan

Jacksonville, FL

Mar 20 2009 - 7:00am

Web Letter

Pretty good analysis of what is obviously an important problem. In my mind, I would add a great deal more emphasis on the idea that people no longer see most journalism as being on their side. How so? Well, the propaganda and right-wing talking points specifically designed to mislead people about the cause and nature of problems when these don't support the conservative moral and economic framework have demonstrated that these rags are not worth their time in many cases. Certainly some of this is caused by the career pressure most journalists feel from a heavy corporation-controlled political atmosphere. It seems to me that one of the solutions to this might be reform of incorporation laws, etc. In India, they don't allow big grocery or other kinds of corporate chains in general. This not only limits the size but it also enhances freedom, giving the smaller entities the right to run themselves according to their own values. When this country was formed, corporations were often granted twenty-year licenses and had to undergo regular review that they were acting in the public interest. Frankly, I think it would be much harder to force corporate conformity and propaganda on a population when more journalists are free to write what they actually think.

Erik Strand

Seattle, WA

Mar 19 2009 - 4:51pm

Web Letter

From about 1950 through 1977, when I lived in Los Angeles, I read the LA Times. I would never have described it as a liberal paper, but as a family-owned local business, it kept going when numerous other local papers failed over the years. As with any business, it is helpful if you know your market, and Los Angeles is not like Chicago. One must always be open to change, but institutional memory prevents the reinvention of the wheel or repeating past mistakes. Corporate musical chairs may add to or detract from the bottom line for Wall Street, but a MBA does not automatically qualify you to run a business or earn a bonus. No institutional memory or brain are required! Just go with the latest fad.

I would also suggest that a journalism degree qualifies you as a writer, but it does not give you the knowledge base to write the story. While I am somewhat prejudiced, I would suggest an undergraduate degree in history. History is the major source for institutional memory.

While it is difficult to predict the future, it looks like the Internet is the future of the written word. While it may not provide you with an income, it does give you the opportunity to write without corporate supervision.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Mar 19 2009 - 3:50pm

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