Posts from April 28, 2004

The names

The names
: I’ve had to let sink in Ted Koppel’s plan to read the names of all the American soldiers killed in action in Iraq to decide what I think about it.

I take Koppel at his word that this is a tribute to the soldiers and their sacrifice.

I take him at his word that he is not trying to be political:

“My first reaction was I didn’t want it to be seen in any fashion as a political gesture,” Koppel said. “We had to be careful that it could not be seen as political on our part.

“I think it can be seen just as powerfully by people who are totally supportive of the war, as those who aren’t,” he added.

But it is political. It is too reminiscent of Vietnam and of Life Magazine’s statement against that war.

This has become, since that then-groundbreaking print documentary, a journalistic cliche. How many times have we seen such roll calls of death called out: war deaths; drug deaths; AIDS deaths; 9/11 deaths. It has been used so often that to pull it out now is a very conscious effort, a journalistic conceit with a clear purpose and a history that cannot be ignored. It means: Let’s hit the people over the head with what we think they’re ignoring; let’s add it up for them; let’s rub their noses in the enormity of it; let’s remind them of a story nearly ignored.

But the Iraq war is hardly ignored. We don’t need Koppel to bring our attention to the danger and death there.

Had this been positioned as a tribute to the dead and their sacrifice for freedom — if it had come on, say, Memorial Day — then I might not have such an uneasy feeling about it. But it doesn’t.

So it seems to me that the names and faces of the dead are being used — exploited — to make a point.

Like a virus

Like a virus
: Muslim violence spreads to Thailand.

The R card

The R card
: Elton John says American Idol is racist. Nevermind that one winner was black. Nevermind that the first people voted off this year were white. A talented black singer was voted off while an untalented white singer with red hair stays on and Elton John throws out the glib charge of racism.

Mass destruction

Mass destruction
: The Guardian reports that two Danish reporters face jail “after they were formally charged with publishing classified government reports that questioned the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

Something me

Something me
: Cameron Marlow finds a zeitgeist moment:

While walking home from work the other day I passed a group of guys emerging from a pizza joint. After a few handshakes and goodbyes they parted ways and made arrangements for their next meeting. And then one of them yelled across the street, “something me on Thursday.” His friend looked a little confused, but I knew exactly what he was talking about. He added, “IM, call, email… I don’t care.”

Young at mind

Young at mind
: The founder of amNewYork, one of the many free minipapers spreading across the country, tells Time:

“What these kids like is fast, blather free and unbiased,” he says. “Something to give them a good, comprehensive scan of the country in 20 minutes.”

Well, I’d say that’s true not only of “these kids” but of everyone: Who wants to waste time reading the news just because writers and editors like to blather? That’s why Metro and similar papers have succeeded around the world. That’s why the Web has succeeded as a news medium! Just because it’s short, that doesn’t mean it’s young (or dumb); short is efficient.

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: COVER STORY: The magazine article I wrote the FCC, the First Amendment, and Howard Stern will be the cover story in the next issue of The Nation. This was the story I pulled from another magazine after a bad edit. Micah Sifry sent it to The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel and now it’s on the cover. They tell me the story will be up online this week; I’ll link to it as soon as it is.

: THE PEOPLE SPEAK: The exodus of listeners from Clear Channel stations that dropped Howard Stern is breathtaking:

When they dropped his show from six stations at the end of February, Clear Channel expected a morning ratings exodus to follow. In San Diego, they got it. With Stern, KIOZ was No. 1 12+ in February with an 8.9. Without him, the station’s morning drive ratings crashed to a 27th place 0.7 in March. The in-demo decline was even more spectacular: 12.7 to 0.7 in Men 18+, 20.6 to 0.8 in 18-34, and 10.1 to 1.0 in 25-54.

To translate: The ratings for the station plummeted from 8.9 to 0.7; the ratings for men 18+ imploded from 20.6 to 0.8.

The people have spoken, again.

The FCC is protecting no one.

: THIS SUCKS: NPR attorneys are telling Fresh Air that they can’t say “suck.”

: FIGHT BACK: Viacom has filed a formal objection to the first of the recent FCC fines against Stern.

: STERN POWER: The LA Times discovers the political power of Stern:

The long-sought liberal talk radio hero isn’t Air America’s Al Franken, but that walking, talking wedge issue, Howard Stern…..

Like his audience, Stern has always been broadly misunderstood. Calling Stern a “shock jock” does him an injustice, lumping him in with his lesser imitators and with the gross-out inanities of reality TV. In fact, Stern is a provocateur and comic talent in the tradition of Lenny Bruce. Whether his subject is sex, scatology, show business or his own failures and insecurities, he has brought unprecedented frankness to the airwaves. The real “shock”

From Iraq

From Iraq
: Iraqi blogger Mohammad doesn’t want no stinkin’ UN running his country:

When I heard about the decision of the coalition to get UN involved the in the process of authority handover, I grew really restless, and what made me more worried is that