A Slightly Late Response

A Slightly Late Response

James Zadroga was a NYPD officer and one of the police, fire, and paramedic first responders to the attacks at the World Trade Center on 9/11. He died in 2006; the cause was in dispute but is believed to be a result of toxic materials he inhaled while performing his duties at Ground Zero.

A number of his fellow first responders are too sick to work and are fighting with insurance companies for the funds to pay for their medical care. A bill named after Zadroga, intended to give financial aid and medical support to these people who have been lauded as heroes, passed the House but was blocked by a Senate Republican caucus that is fighting for the passage of tax cuts.

Burying the Lead

It’s difficult for me to judge just how Orwellian China’s carefully groomed, state-run news coverage is: in America, coverage of the news is centered around the image of the news program or network; not the state. I do follow the BBC, therefore state-run media is not entirely out of my experience; but the BBC news website has not reported this story…

The Country is Ale-ing

I was working on a two-part postmortem on the now-canceled NBC show Kings and how television serves as a stopgap for social stimulation, but I’m going to shelve that for now, because of the BREAKING NEWS that happened today.

The News is Pasteurized

Last Thursday on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show Jon Stewart interviewed CNBC financial host Jim Cramer for the good part of a half-hour. It was a culmination of a week-long series of segments in which the The Daily Show attacked CNBC, a financial news network, for failures to responsibly or accurately report on the economic meltdown or any of its warning signs.

Afterward, the majority of news outlets framed the interview as a personal victory of Stewart over Cramer, the end of a “war of words” or the clash between two media personalities, saying that “Stewart won by knockout” or that “Stewart wrecked Cramer.” The fact that the news media focused on the personalities and less on the substance of the interview only reinforces a point made by Stewart

Homogenizing News

I had a very frustrating conversation with a Chinese woman once. She was a bright, intelligent person, web-savvy (she was a computer programmer), and on her way to Redmond to work at Microsoft. We began talking about the news, and I may have said some disparaging things about the reliability of the Chinese media. What surprised me was the sudden vehemence of her reaction. She was quite offended by the insinuation that the Chinese media was not trustworthy, and countered by telling me that the Western media was just as biased and unreliable. “How do you know that what they say is true? So how can you say that what the Chinese media says is not true? Maybe it’s not always completely true, but the West is just as bad.”

The End of News Freedom?

No, The New York Times will not die. Neither will The Washington Post; at the very least, their robust national circulation and storied history will make them viable—if not necessarily profitable—arms of whatever multinational conglomerate currently owns them or may own them in the future. No, what we should be worried about are the Chicago Tribunes and the Los Angeles Times of the nation, the Houston Chronicles and the Sacramento Bees. The non-national papers are the ones that will suffer the most from the current newspaper crisis, and in some ways they are the ones most critical for the lifeblood of the American journalistic institution.

The End of Free News

Recently, there’s been quite a spate of articles proclaiming the death of news as we know it. Newspapers are teetering on the edge of financial insolvency, shedding staff like bad dandruff, and bemoaning the popularity of aggregation sites like The Huffington Post (or, for example, our own site). A number of suggestions have been floated to solve the problem, mostly involving making people pay for the news access that they currently get for free on the web. But will this alone be enough?