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On Second Thought
 

Much Ado About Court Packing

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Language abuse — as opposed to abusive language — is as old as language itself. After 50-plus years of reporting and editing, I should be used to it, but I’m increasingly irritated by its deliberate, partisan misuse.
  

The Unjustified Contempt for Watchdog Journalism

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 29, 2013
 If sources begin to think twice about contacting us in any fashion other than midnight meetings in darkened parking garages, public service reporting will become an endangered species.
  

The Ethics of Intrusion

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Intruding is something reporters do. Intrusions can be personal, professional, financial or commercial. Or more than one of the above. And, yes, despite inexplicably loud cell phone conversations, awareness of omnipresent smartphone cameras and overly revealing Facebook posts, many Americans still assert their right to privacy.   

Media Misses Opportunity with West, Texas, Coverage

0 Comments · Thursday, May 2, 2013
You want news of a real weapon of mass destruction? Try ammonium nitrate fertilizer stored in tanks in the tiny town of West, Texas. At least 14 dead. Hundreds wounded. High school and nursing home blitzed. Dozens of homes destroyed.
  

Online Sourcing Implores Healthy Skepticism

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I began this column wondering, “With so many search engines and online sources available, how much is enough?” Before the Internet, phone calls and checking clippings often sufficed.
  

Blurring the Lines on April Fools' Day

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 3, 2013
I’ve written about mindless political correctness, but there was an eye-popping example on HuffingtonPost.com the other day.  

Deconstructing Media Coverage of Pope Francis

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 19, 2013
After Benedict XVI quit and before cardinals began voting for his successor, daily news-free news stories left us as ignorant as the day before. Until Francis’ election, nothing really happened. That’s one reason NPR received 200-plus complaints, its ombudsman reported, mostly about 47 stories running during the four weeks between popes.      

Something Old, Something New

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 6, 2013
I hope the tabloid Enquirer holds current subscribers and attracts new readers, especially folks who are drawn more to the visual than the verbal. Publisher Margaret Buchanan promises its debut Monday. Trucks will bring it from Columbus, where it’ll be printed on Dispatch presses.   

The Implied Menace of the ‘Jewish Lobby’

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 20, 2013
So what is it about Jews? Not only real Jews but also fearful fantasies about Jews. I ask because so many mainstream reporters, bloggers and columnists seem fascinated and repelled by the implied menace of “the Jewish lobby.”
  

Media Slacks on Calling Out Undocumented Quotes

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Typically, invoking a Great Man to settle an argument involves Lincoln, Twain, Stalin, Churchill, Chief Seattle, etc. Hitler is a provocative new favorite. Among some gun control foes, quoting Hitler proves what will happen if Obama has his way: gun registration, confiscation and tyranny.
  

Public Records Are Such For a Reason

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
When a reporter uses the law to pry public records from resisting officials, readers are supposed to benefit. And when readers value that invocation of open records laws, it adds luster to the reporter’s work.
  

Small Daily Stunned by Years of Fakery

0 Comments · Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Another small New England daily made news at the end of the year. Recently, the Cape Cod Times revealed how it stumbled in a way that had many journalists mumbling, “There but for the grace of God.”  

Correctly Reporting Incorrect Information

1 Comment · Thursday, December 27, 2012
Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School once again demonstrate a troubling paradox: A news story can be accurate and wrong. The aftermath of the massacre quickly provided reporters with opportunities to put out stories that accurately reported wildly incorrect but seemingly authoritative information.   

Reporters Should Challenge Candidates on Creationism

3 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I’m grateful to the GQ magazine reporter who asked Florida Sen. Marco Rubio about the age of the earth. It raises a vital question for a country where significant numbers of Americans reject much of science from creation to evolution.     

Appreciating Non-Mainstream Media

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I value small publications with strong opinions or reporting. The small publications that I turn to live off subscriptions, a few ads, wealthy benefactors, foundations and/or myriad smaller donations.