Posts from September 2003

Oh, no, not that!

Oh, no, not that!
: Matt Welch says: “Anything but the ombudsman!

Our world

Our world
: I watched much of the Fox interview with Bush last night (inbetween doing the dishes) and I’m still struck by what Bush said is the first thing he does every day: He comes to his office to review the threat sheet, the summary of those who would attack us. That is Job 1 and that is our world today.

At the creation

At the creation
: The multitalented Ben Hammersley moves to Florence and plans to start writing a book via blog:

My muses are bickering. It’s really quite upsetting: after nearly a year of plain Scandinavian countryside – pleasant enough, but not entirely stimulating – I find myself in Florence, surrounded by more artistic, aesthetic, scientific and spiritual inspiration than I can possibly digest.

This is a problem. Before I arrived – and I’d never been here before the day we moved into our new home – I had planned on using this weblog as the scratchpad for a book. An urban version of the usual English-in-Tuscany memoir. Less of the gaptoothed farmers and scorpions in the outside lav, and more of Dante and Vespa and jazz club caffe corretto. If not for any other sake but my own future reminiscences, I could diarise my daily discoveries, and maybe entertain some of you as well.

But in the week since I got here, I’ve been stuck not with too little to write about, but with far too much – and far too much of that is so fizzy in my head that all I can think of writing is line of exclamation points. Machiavelli lived just down the street!!!!! Galileo’s finger is in a jar five doors down!!!!! …

Just start writing, I advise him. Think of it as a blog, not a book, and there’ll be no dam. Just start writing.

Blog search

Blog search
: Moreover launches a blog search of select blogs. (Full disclosure: I sit on Moreover’s board.)

Eye of the beholder

Eye of the beholder
: Reporters are just witnesses with pencils. And their accounts of what they witness will, of course, vary widely. USA Today’s Peter Johnson certainly proves that, interviewing a bunch of reporters about their view of progress in Iraq. They’re all over the map. Here’s one of the more balanced takes:

Although some paint a picture of recovery, with U.S. armed forces making progress in getting the country going again, others sketch a bleaker scene, in which bombings, ambushes and looting are the rule, not the exception.

Reporters agree on this much: Bad news — not good — sells.

”It’s the nature of the business,” Time’s Brian Bennett says. ”What gets in the headlines is the American soldier getting shot, not the American soldiers rebuilding a school or digging a well.”

The Baghdad that Bennett sees is a city where gunfire erupts every night and dozens of Iraqis are reported dead in the morning. Looting and robberies are common. ”There is a mounting terrorist threat, and the people who want to kill American soldiers are getting more organized,” he says.

But he also sees a city where restaurants are reopening daily, where women feel increasingly safe going out to shop, where more police means intersections aren’t as clogged as they were this summer. ”My neighbors are nice,” he says. ”My street is a pretty quiet place.”

When Bennett visited the USA a few weeks ago, he realized that, five months after the U.S. invasion, the Iraq he lives in doesn’t mesh with the bleak picture that friends here are getting from the media.

”I’m not saying all is hunky-dory,” Bennett says. ”But in the States, people have a misperception of what’s going on.”

Which is why Bennett plans to pitch a story about the improving scene in Iraq, where electricity is being restored daily and people are getting back to work. ”There’s been a lot of improvement that I and my colleagues noticed when we came back here. People in the States just don’t see it.”

Let’s keep an eye on Time and see whether his pitch is successful. [via Romenesko]

: See also Postrel and Reynolds on this.

Children who need to be children

Children who need to be children
: Chief Wiggles is collecting toys for Iraqi children.

No sex please, we’re American

No sex please, we’re American
: Britain is amused that the Americanized British sitcom Coupling is too hot for some mid-American stations to handle.

When I was a TV critic, I gave a Sunday-morning forum to the Presbyterian church I used to attend (but, for reasons that are soon to be obvious, left). I said I loved Cheers; I said it would prove to be one of the best shows in the history of television in this, TV’s true golden age. A church lady objected: “Cheers?” she shrieked. “That’s terrible. It has sex.”

Yes, ma’am, and so does life… for most of us.

: And in related news… Foul language on TV is on the increase, says a study. Try listening to life.

: Late-breaking profanity:

In an unprecedented move, three national newspapers used the f-word in its unexpurgated form today in their reporting of Alastair Campbell’s now infamous diary entry of July 4.

I don’t use those words here because I have kids who know my URL. But I’ll summarize: Campbell wanted to do something to the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan that could only be taken metaphorically.

: Profanity update: A commenter rightly says that the Guardian story (link above) summarizes what Campbell said quite differently from how I’d read it in the actual diary entry.

Rock ‘n’ blogroll

Rock ‘n’ blogroll
: NYU’s j-czar, Jay Rosen, saw progress when the Sacramento Bee started blogging because…

By these gradual means the Web is teaching journalism back to journalists