Just bury me in the backyard
: The Washington Post reports a trend in home funerals.
Sure enough, you can buy coffins on eBay.
The little fool
: Ward Churchill, the reputed professor infamous for calling 9/11’s victims “little Eichmans,” is in the bullseye of the Rocky Mountain News in a series of investigations that find:
Did Ward Churchill falsely accuse the U.S. Army of using smallpox as a weapon of genocide against American Indians?
His claim cannot be supported by the sources he has cited.
Did Churchill commit plagiarism by publishing the work of others as his own?
An essay he “prepared” for a book was actually taken from a Canadian scholar.
Did Churchill mischaracterize two important pieces of federal Indian law?
His contentions about the Dawes Act of 1887 and the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 are incorrect.
Did Churchill misrepresent himself as having American Indian ancestry?
His assertions that he is descended from Cherokee and Creek ancestors arenít supported by extensive genealogical records.
I’m all for freedom of speech and academic freedom as well. But at what point does the academy become just a refuge for a fool? [via Glenn Reynolds]
: I’m putting this here just so I can find it when I need it: There’s a video plug-in for Skype, at last.
Strange bedfellows, indeed
: In a Times of London interview, Mikhail Gorbachev reveals that he is a Blairite socialist and Jesus was the first socialist and he and Pope John Paul were penpals and he thinks Margaret Thatcher should be a model for Vladimir Putin.
Question the money
: John Tierney questions one of the sacred tenants of journalism: Thou shalt not pay sources.
The question is: Why shouldn’t Deep Throat, aka W. Mark Felt, make money from Watergate? Woodward and Bernstein certainly did. The scandal — and Felt’s information that helped them expose it — made them famous and made them a fortune and established their careers as journalistic heroes.
But when Felt’s family tried to get some money for his story, they were treated like money-grubbers. People and Vanity Fair wouldn’t pay them. Against journalistic ethics, they say.
Now there is some reason for this, a practical ethical reason: If people reveal the truth for money, they may make up lies to make money.
But there’s another reason, an economic reason: Journalism cannot afford to share the money it makes off the truth. What if everyone wanted their cut? What if your competitor could pay more? What if George Steinbrenner were a publisher? He’d get all the scoops.
As Tierney points out, the way to manage this in the past — the way to launder the money — was to publish a book; the public decides whether to buy your truth. There, it’s OK to make money for your own story. In newspapers and magazines, you can’t make money for your own story — the publishers do; they sell their truth.
I wonder whether the new age of distributed media that might change. I joked the other day that if Watergate occurred today, Deep Throat would have a blog. He might well, for it would give him control of his story and his identity. It’s hard to imagine making enough money off Google AdSense to make whistleblowing pay. It’s also hard to imagine a whistleblower able to get the verification and attention that journalists bring. But I have to believe that the next Deep Throat will want to control the fate of his story…. and its value. And is that so wrong?