Monday, June 27, 2005

press, pestilence and Pollard

On the press -

See Fred Clark on commercial bias in reporting, and Bruce Murphy's wonderful In the Belly of the Beast, a no-holds-barred account of his three years at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Joseph Pulitzer quote (found in Nieman Watchdog):
Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations.
(North American Review of May 1904)

The Greensboro News & Record gets recognized as one of Editor and Publisher's "ten papers that do it right". Not sure this is all that newsworthy, though - for it to be news, it'd have to be something we didn't already know.
(Update: July 4 NY Times article on the N&R)

On the avian flu pandemic -

From Recombinomics, the Pandemic timeline so far.

Effect Measure on the food shortage angle to the Osterholm "we're screwed" press briefing

Phila from Bouphonia on the coming pandemic -
(in a comment at EffectMeasure:)
...if the pandemic comes, half of America is going to be saying it's the wrath of God, and the other half's going to be saying that some shadowy cabal cooked it up in a lab. The idea that nature has active powers all its own seems to be very much on the wane in the USA.
(and on his(?) own blog:)
Lately I've been thinking about the Republicans' nonsensical claim that we must fight terrorists in Iraq, so we don't have to fight them here. It'd be nice if we took that approach to epidemic disease. Given a choice between spending $300 billion of taxpayer money on the Iraq War, and $300 billion on global flu surveillance and research, I think I would've been tempted to pick the latter.

Dave Pollard on Making Peace With the End of Civilization -
As Canadian archaeologist Ronald Wright says, if we destroy the ecosystem that sustains us "nature will merely shrug and conclude that letting apes run the laboratory was fun for a while but in the end a bad idea".

...we are wrong in the uniquely human conceit that we are in charge of our own destiny and that there is some kind of collective politic and collective intelligence and 'free will' that can be harnessed to move us all in a chosen direction. We are nothing more or less than six billion creatures individually doing what we are driven to do moment by moment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Of bluegrass bands and blogs

The Father's Day bluegrass festival happened at the fairgrounds this weekend; and walking around, listening to the knots of people playing, the blog parallels were striking - mostly A-listers on the main stage playing to the crowd; a multitude of great smaller-traffic(k)ed sites in the "long tail" of the campground; the same blurring of boundaries between listener and performer; and from their talk, a fair number from North Carolina.

sorry, no photos. I was an idiot and did not bring the camera.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Papers vs. bloggers

The only cases I recall of newspapers playing "Goliath vs. David" (aka "quash the blogger") involved the Tulsa World's attempt to stop a blogger from linking to and quoting from it, and the New York Times's attempt to make Robert Cox take down his New York Times Columnist Corrections Page.

Have there been others?

Related - in previous post's comments, local blogger Russ Steele notes that the EFF's new Legal Guide for Bloggers is now online. It's very well done; if you like it too, invest in our future - send them money.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Other outings of the anonymous - rumored, attempted, actual

June 30: I'd forgotten that blogger (and talk show radio 'personality') Hugh Hewitt outed PressThink commenter 'Ben Franklin' last winter. I guess blogging doesn't magically instill ethics.

Mon. June 20 update: South Knox Bubba outs himself, in response to the local paper's publisher's threat to do it; the formerly anonymous Atrios weighs in.

Start of a collection. (do you know of any others, and their circumstances?)
There may be plenty that we'll never know of, or shouldn't publicize, since the natural inclination would be not to draw attention to it, to minimize the harm. And the harm can be substantial: as one correspondent pointed out, if you're a woman who's escaped a violent ex-husband - or you're another victim of violence - whether or not your name gets printed can be a matter of life and death.

I asked the writer of Medpundit about the publishing of her name in an article some years ago; here's her account*:
The AMA didn't out me. I gave them permission to use my real name.

Although I haven't been interviewed by a lot of reporters, those who have spoken to me have always made a point of asking me how I wanted to be identified. My local paper did an article about Medpundit and the reporter took care not to mention who I was, although I gave her my name and phone number so she could make sure I was really a doctor.

P.S. I can't think of anyone off-hand who has been outed. The only ones I can think of are people who made their names known themselves, like Atrios (who revealed himself as Duncan Black, about a year ago; Luskin had tried to out him earlier) and "Jane Galt".

There have been cases where people were outed for cause, having posted under false or misleading circumstances:
Libertarian 'Girl' (see here), and Buckhead/Harry MacDougald and "Mike" (info).

Also, The One True b!X (of the Portland Communique) recently outed an anonymous commenter with relevant undisclosed connections - excellent work.

(mine, from May 31)

Friday, June 10, 2005


Sun: two minor changes (added an asterisk, removed a season)

Quoted (from here) in Staci Kramer's Journos and Bloggers: Can Both Survive? at OJR:
What journalists can learn from bloggers:
  • you can blur the line between the personal and professional without corrupting the process;
  • you can learn to improvise in real time;
  • how to have a conversation with their readers;
  • to be humble - you don't know everything.

Bloggers can learn from journalists:
  • the value of leg work;
  • the nature of accountability;
  • that editing is a good thing;
  • to be humble - you don't know everything.

FYI, profile updates - updated the NCFocus profile and policies page a day or two ago, to reflect my new status. Conversely I've turned off access to my Blogger profile (here) since it's rather confused and shows my "most recent" posts as being ones from ages ago, when a lot was going on that I don't want to rehash right now.

Also made a few updates to Outed by The Union. Here's a sadly amusing reaction from a big-city blogger:
...If the newspaper has an ombudsman, I would suggest that you complain to him/her, and to the editor in chief. At least let the people in who are supposed to be in charge of ethics at the paper know what happened.
Yup. "Our newspapers are run with local autonomy* by publishers and management teams who are leaders in their communities." (*)

-40- *

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

On stuff and status

The hidden costs of too much stuff (via) -
... "We did a focus group on why people renovated their kitchens," he says. "They said it was because their friends had done it."...

On Choosing the Right Pond -
"Perhaps those high-income readers who do not consider their current high relative standing that important will find it illuminating to consider a simple thought experiment..."

A tiny rammed-earth house -
In a sense, the overheated real estate market and the passion for all things domestic have spawned two distinctly different construction extremes, like siblings destined to be forever at odds. One is the proverbial monster house, a creature suckled on the principle that bigger is better, no matter how far the commute, no matter how lackluster the design. The other might be called the infill infant, a quieter creature we need to embrace more often.

Owning a home changes you -
...being a property owner ... claims our inner real estate and begins to define who we are, what we think about and how we see the world.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

guess I don't get out much

Spent some time driving around Penn Valley last weekend - and OMG, I had no idea, someone has been working overtime waving the magic luxury home estate construction wand over it. The results are stunning, in all senses of the word. (the fourth time one is kicked in the head by a mule...)

When I lived there it was different.

Do people ride their horses, or just use them as lawn ornaments?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Enron - the smartest guys in the room

Tuesday: got rid of the italics.

Excellent film, highly recommended. Am told tonight was its last night at Sierra Cinemas but that it'll be at the Sunday night movie at Nevada Theater one of these Sunday nights.

Most valuable to me was the footage of CEOs and other executives lying, when we know - due to subsequent events and revelations - that they're lying. Usually you don't get the opportunity to calibrate your personal intuitive lie detector like that.

And I'm not voting for Arnold, ever.


Friday additions, as various memories of watching the film kept surfacing -
The way corruption can creep in, when the little coverup needs a bigger coverup and so on...;
The courage of Sherron Watkins;
The difference between loyalty to an institution and loyalty to those who are running it into the ground; synchronicity (aka implicit attentional selection?) with Deep Throat/Mark Felt here (and see Lex on Felt)

And how can an entire audience (albeit small, and smaller with self and companion excluded) not be Simpsons fans? It was a disturbing moment, when exactly two laughs rang out.