Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ron (Why Are We Back in Iraq) Detain This!; the New York Times

From Ron's Why Are We Back In Iraq?, Mark asks us to highlight this (which we will gladly):

Update: Instead of the petition we have a letter that is downloadable at our blog Detain This! So instead of sending us an e-mail please go to the blog and follow the directions written there...sorry for the last minute change but we thought this would be easier than getting petitions signed and it's of the utmost urgency since we need to get letters of support by 5 PM on Wednesday so we can get it to the lawyers by thursday morning.
In late March, two 16 year-old girls, A and T -- were taken into immigration custody and accused of "terrorism" by the FBI. They are now being held in a detention facility under secret evidence to which they have no access, are being questioned repeatedly and threatened, and will be subjected to closed hearings.
A new blog has been formed to help these girls called
Detain This! and we urgently need people to collect signatures for a petition that will be presented at a bond hearing for T set for this Thursday.

This is important and requires prompt action so if you're able to, please participate.

Don't miss Tom Scocca's "Times Iraq Flak: Feuer's War Tale, Marital E-mails" from The New York Observer isn't a happy tale for the Times. You'll learn Alan Feuer may have been "creative" with copy while reporting from Iraq (Feuer has a book coming out in June entitled Over There: From the Bronx to Baghdad: Two Months in the Life of a Reluctant Reporter). As disturbing as that might be for some (though community members here will hardly find the possibility surprising), more disturbing for the Times is the fact that the Sachs story isn't going away. (See "Let's Talk New York Times . . .")

And we'll note this from the article as well:

In the middle of this whole mess, the story broke that married Times metro reporter Janny Scott was carrying on with former Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld.

Sex, betrayal, war--normally the stuff of a great story anywhere but The New York Times--quickly became "the talk of The Times," according to one longtime staffer.
"Everyone's obsessed with it," said another.

Hardly surprising. We'll note the last four paragraphs of "Let's Talk New York Times . . .:"

The Timid's given America so little to talk about, that of course they'll focus on this personal, behind the scenes, story. Starved for real news (and conditioned by the paper to get excited over the tawdry -- no one forced them to treat the Michael Jackson case as an earth shattering story in need of five days a week reporting), why wouldn't readers enjoy the titilation factor of this tale full of alleged sex, alleged backstabbing, and a firing?
No one forced the paper of record to play tabloid. No one forced them to send out the Elite Fluff Patrol to the front page repeatedly. They've made these decisions. They've also allowed a hell of a lot of attitude to creep into the hard news. (And sports metaphors. Every story is ripe for sports metaphors in the Times these days.) I'm not referring to Bumiller's floating op-ed "White House Letter." I'm speaking of supposed news stories that try to strut with all sorts of lingo and attitude.
No one loves the master narrative like the Times. Well here's a master narrative for you:
the paper has embarrassed itself in print repeatedly, perhaps that's the result of embarrassments going on behind the scenes? And if some people want to start peering into the early childhoods of Sachs and Burns and Filkins to find some "life altering & shaping event" -- well, hey, the paper's encouraged that for some time with their own articles (and book reviews).
Bill Keller should realize how the paper's image is in increasing danger and he should start advocating for hard news on the front page. And for real scoops, not "scoops." Unless that happens, people will be more focused on what goes on behind the scenes then what makes the front page. (My opinion, as always, I could be wrong.)

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