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All hail Rolling Stone
by Jake Highton
Jul 17, 2010 | 793 views | 1 1 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is rare that a single newspaper or magazine article is so devastating that it topples a powerful person. But that is exactly what Michael Hastings did in his recent Rolling Stone piece.

The Hastings exposé of the gross insubordination of Gen. Stanley McChrystal caused President Obama to fire the general as commander in Afghanistan.

Yet incredibly, David Brooks, ultraconservative columnist for the New York Times, pontificated that Hastings should have sat on the story.

Such an absurdity makes you wonder why the Times would keep an anti-journalist on its roster. Real journalists would “kill” for such a sensational scoop.

But even worse was Lara Logan, so-called chief correspondent of CBS. She bad-mouthed Hastings, declaring that he violated an unspoken agreement with a source. Moreover, she said he should not have embarrassed the troops “by reporting insults and banter.”

The truth is that Logan is like so many anchors in America: a pretty face who is a reader rather than a reporter.

Slanted media                                     

Ernest Partridge of Truthout notes the bias in the corporate media.

When a couple thousand Tea Party or gun-rights enthusiasts demonstrate on the Washington Mall the mainstream media cover them extensively. But when 10,000  protesters crowd Wall Street or 50,000 jam downtown Los Angeles to protest the Arizona show-your-papers law, coverage is nil.

During the controversy over the anti-immigrant law, the Arizona media abandoned its watchdog role over government.

 Many news editors directed staffers not to cover opponents. When some college students engaged in classic civil disobedience à la Thoreau and King, their protests went unreported.

The Arizona media thus abet the vilification and scapegoating of Latinos.

Less is less

Newspaper circulation continues to plunge. The first solution by most newspapers: layoffs, firings and buyouts. The second solution: cut back on content, information and analysis.

The result, as Lisa Anderson, former Chicago Tribune reporter, noted in Columbia Journalism Review is that “less is not more” but that “less is less.”

The biggest circulation loser is the San Francisco Chronicle, going from 312,118 to 241,330 as reported in March by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

I have read the Chron daily for 10 years. In the past two years it has gotten thinner and thinner. Its opinion pages have grown weaker and weaker. The Chron is about to lose another subscriber, me.

War debt ignored

The Times recently ran a lament about the increasing federal debt. But not until deep inside the story, almost as an afterthought, did it mention the chief cause of the mounting debt--wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Pentagon is spending $1 million a year to keep a single soldier in Afghanistan.

Glaring irony

Headlines over a recent story in the Times: “Tax-Exempt Funds Aiding Settlements in West Bank.”

The story tells how American groups are using tax-exempt donations to help Jews establish permanent homes in Israeli-occupied territory. The irony is glaring. The U.S. government supposedly opposes settlement building.

RGJ wasteland

You don’t have to be a journalism professor to denounce the Reno Gazette-Journal. Despite all the resources of the Gannett Empire of which it is a part, the paper is awfully thin gruel.

Its opinion columns range from right-wing to conservative with the exception of one or two mildly liberal columnists. RGJ editorials lack bite.

The front section is filled with columns of local so-what crime news. The Sunday paper is full of takeouts and numerous stories about bear “menaces” that can’t possibly interest more than a dozen readers.

The RGJ runs items on page one and then repeats them verbatim inside, prompting readers to mutter that they “already read that story.” Page one of the RGJ national and world section blatantly carries the USA Today logo.

The best part of the paper is the sports section. Yet the statistics page is marred Saturdays by an ad overlay rendering the tops of five columns unreadable.

Why they hate us

A defiant Muslim admitted at a pretrial hearing in Manhattan, NY to trying to blow up an SUV in Times Square May 1. He was “a Muslim soldier,” he declared, bent on revenge.

His motivation was understandable. It was the nine-year American war in Afghanistan and U.S. interventions in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Yet another drug

Digital technology has become the latest narcotic. Americans are determined to entertain themselves to death.

Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. You can reach him at
Comments-icon Post a Comment
July 27, 2010
>The Pentagon is spending $1 million a year to keep a single soldier in Afghanistan.

And when (if) that soldier comes home, he'll likely be dirt poor with no job prospects, but by then Joe Schmoe won't care because said soldier will no longer be in uniform, in a convertible, during a Independence Day parade.

And if he claims PTSD, the current practice is to declare he has Personality Disorder so that he can't receive medical help for his condition.
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