And it’s never better than when the wound is self-inflicted, as is the case of these young women who (a) dressed themselves thusly, and (b) allowed a photographer in the room.
You probably know that the United States is mothballing its fleet of space shuttles, and taking proposals from museums and such that want to adopt the three remaining orbiters. The decision on where Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour will go is expected April 12th, the 30th anniversary of Columbia’s flight on STS-1.
Well, it seems that some faint whisper of this news has lately wafted in to the op/ed office at Houston’s Leading Information Source, which this morning boldly editorialized in favor of one of those ships ending up in Houston, the home of NASA’s Mission Control for human spaceflight, because, well, we’re Houston, dammit, and NASA should “do the right thing.”
The editorials in our little local publication have earned such a bad reputation over the years that I rarely bother to read them, and certainly not when they lead from the rear on pressing local issues. So hats off to the good folks at blogHOUSTON.net for catching the comment today from the guy who schooled the Chron on the major unforced fact errors in what they must surely have thought was a simple rah-rah for the home team.
“The Discovery, the orbiter that flew first and furthest”
Discovery is the oldest surviving space-capable orbiter, but it was not the first to fly. Enterprise was the first to fly in the atmosphere; Columbia was the first to fly in space.
When they get the easy stuff so wrong…
Is it funny-strange that a blog that comments on reporting and journalism has a category for Woeful Journalism but not one to sing its praises, or is it just funny-sad that there hasn’t been a need to have one?
People who came to journalism post-Watergate and later, like I did, have a lot of complaints about the state of the art/profession/trade as it exists today; I suspect our elders have their own hit parade of infamies that we committed. But my complaint has never been about how the digital revolution is changing the way information is presented to the reader/listener/viewer/consumer/custo-mer, because to my mind the delivery method is a tertiary concern. The primary concern should be the content, with a little preserving-and-protecting-a-free-and-independent-press as a secondary.
I’m fine with electronic self-publication (duh!), and there’s not a damn thing wrong with everybody expressing their own beliefs and opinions. But I don’t ever confuse what I and thousands and thousands of other people do at our own private keyboards with what real, professional reporters do out in the world every day. Today I ran across two great examples of why that job is hard to do, and why it can be dangerous to do.
When the Earth quakes and the ocean covers the land and nuclear reactors split open, real reporters go to the danger because that’s where the story is. When a dictator sends his army against its own people to suppress their expression of a desire for freedom, real reporters go to the danger because that’s where the story is. Real reporters leave their comfortable homes and go where the news is happening, to observe real events and talk to real people, to report, so the rest of us can know what’s going on. The biggest risk we stay-at-home bloggers take is suffering a fragmented hard drive.
The next time you hear someone complain about the biased news media, remind them that it’s real reporters, working for all kinds of publications, who provide us all with the raw data that pundits and demagogues misconstrue to suit their own purposes, and that sometimes they risk their lives to do it. More times than you probably imagine, they lose their lives doing it. We owe them our thanks and our respect.
→UPDATE Mar. 21: Times reporters released by Libya
What’s causing me a good bit of non-specific discomfort about Rep. Peter King’s hearing today ("The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response") is the premise that we should investigate if Muslims are cooperating with law enforcement in the fight against terrorism. Why isn’t he investigating the cooperation of Baptists, or Buddhists? Or the Unitarians or the Wiccans or the Scientologists?
Because they didn’t attack America on September 11? No, they didn’t; a few adherents to a twisted interpretation of Islam did. But “Muslims” as a group did not, and certainly Muslim Americans didn’t.
First, King has only a handful of anecdotal examples of Muslims not cooperating with the FBI or other law enforcement agencies in investigating homegrown terrorism; certainly nothing to justify this hearing, which could actually have been something constructive if it had been used as an opportunity for Muslims in America to talk about what they really believe.
Second, he’s wrong: research shows that law enforcement’s biggest source of help in fighting domestic terrorism comes from Muslim Americans and Muslim organizations (page 6).
Third, it shows the rest of the world just how stupid we can be at times, and might help Al Qaeda convince a few feeble-minded individuals that America really does hate Muslims.
That’s not to say that no Muslim Americans hate America or sympathize with Al Qaeda; crazy people belong to every religion—religions don’t test for crazy when they you sign up. But this hearing targets people for suspicion because of their religion, and that’s just not right.
People are not the groups they belong to. As Harry Reasoner put it, labels only lump me in among people with whom I have one thing in common. Granted, it’s much easier to stereotype…once you understand that all Irish are drunks, all Mexicans are lazy, all Hindus worship cows, and all Muslims want to kill Americans, then no hard thinking is required.
Republicans nitwits running the House of Representatives want to pass a law to keep Congress (themselves) from re-enacting the Fairness Doctrine, a long-abandoned broadcasting regulation that no one is seriously trying to reinstate. This news comes from a speech by the House speaker in which he is, almost literally, preaching to the choir. And they wonder why anyone thinks they’re not fit to run the government.