Saturday, August 20, 2005

Checking in with the other community sites

I meant to note this earlier this week but if you've missed Mike's "Camilo Mejia and an interview with Dona of The Third Estate Sunday Review" (Mikey Likes It!), Mike's excerpting an article by Mejia and interviewing Dona. Here's an excerpt from the interview with Dona where she and Mike are discussing how last Sunday's edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review almost was a "best of" of past articles:

But when people were saying that the "best of" would be last Sunday, you ended up voting no on that.
Dona: Well, two Sundays ago, we had the problem with getting things posted to the site. It wasn't fixed until Thursday evening. That's really not enough time to do an edition. But the issue of the press corp shrugging their shoulders, basically, over John H. Johnson's death was an important one. So we went from feeling that Sunday would be the "best of" edition to feeling like there was no way we could do that and be silent on something this because this is really the sort of reason we started The Third Estate Sunday Review.
What do you think of this Sunday's edition?
Dona: I told Jim you were going to ask that. Well I'm really not in favor of the push, push, rush, rush, inspiration will come school or view. I'm someone who believes that you really need to prepare ahead of time. I'm not saying my view is better and it's certainly not the only way. But I do think the editions are stronger when we've batted around ideas and actually started drafts before Saturday rolls around. I say all of that to say that despite that, I think the edition is one of our strongest ones. I believe the reason is that we were bothered by the treatment of John H. Johnson's death. That really motivated us. I think you can see it in the pieces dealing with Johnson like the essay and the parody of World News Tonight as well as in the pieces that don't address him like the editorial, the news review and the TV review Ava and C.I. did. I think, in terms of media criticism, it's the strongest edition we've done. But, having said that, I think that's the exception. I don't think strong work often results from this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants way of putting an edition together.

Let me note Betty's latest that she finished last night "The World May Not Be Flat But Thomas Friedman Has A Bearded Butt" (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man). No excerpt because I know I'll spoil a joke with an excerpt but with Thomas Friedman still on vacation, "Thomas Friedman" and Bettina go on vacation as well. It's not what Betty expected or hoped and, in the end, it's not what "Thomas" hoped for either.

Kat did "Community Roundup" yesterday (and does a far better job than I'm doing here) and notes that I asked her, Ruth and Isaiah to all take the week off this past week. All were taking part in the Sheehan vigils Wednesday night and assorted other things. Ruth, Isaiah and Kat are regular contributing community members. When Ruth phoned on Tuesday, she was planning to do a Friday Ruth's Morning Edition Report and, while we were talking, she was speaking about her week. It was going to be a very busy week. No one needs to knock themselves out to contribute and I asked Ruth to take the week off and followed that conversation with e-mails to Isaiah and Kat. Kat also selects highlights from the sites of various community members so check out her entry.

Elaine's done some amazing entries this week (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude). She's also noted that Rebecca will be back from vacation after Labor Day. My personal pick for her best entry this week would be 'Marine of the Year' Faces Attempted Murder Charges" (Democracy Now!):

Apparently nothing changes. In every war, people are asked to serve and then left to fend for themselves. As with every other "plan" for this invasion/occupation, concerns were elsewhere.
The suicides at Fort Bragg didn't result in a change, the domestic abuse (and murder) only resulted in a white wash. Lariam, a routine drug, is dispensed but questions about it are swept aside. (Maureen Orth wrote about Lariam's possible effects in the December 2002 issue of Vanity Fair.) Medications, training and experiences all have effects but our government would rather live in denial.
Astronauts are "decompressed" better than the military is. Possibly that's due to the fact that, in terms of ratio, the government's dealing with far fewer astronauts than military members. But the military is expected to return to "normal" and fend for themselves with few resources.

I'll say again that I think Elaine's doing a wonderful job filling in for Rebecca and, again, that Rebecca and I have urged her to do her own site for months now.

And of course Cedric does an excellent job at Cedric's Big Mix. I have noted his "Connections" here this week but I want to note it again because I think it's important:

Before getting into anything else, I want to talk about the four guys at the retirement home that I'm now visiting twice a week. As readers know, this started because my preacher wanted us to be reaching out to people in our church. If you have a place of worship, you may notice that some people come in and they've been coming for years. My preacher was concerned that some people, due to age or handicaps, didn't get the attention that they should. He also spoke of how we had groups that knew each other and supported each other within the congregation but we needed to reach beyond those groups and support the entire congregation.
When he first addressed the issue, I was one of the few people under forty who agreed to assist. There's a group of twins, 26, that are now taking part too. But still there's not a lot of committment from the younger congregation members. I get asked questions like, "But it's weird, right, talking to those old guys?"
It's not weird at all. I've probably had better conversations and more fun talking to them than most of my conversations since I started doing this. I've also found out that one of the men isn't just sick with a cold. I'm pretty sure my preacher knew that and that might be part of why he wanted us to get out and make real efforts. When this man passes, the group will be down to three. They're already isolated because they have very little family that lives remotely near. They get on the bus each Sunday morning to attend church and the rest of the time they're pretty much at the retirement home where they at least have each other.
But I keep thinking about how we are all in groups and we get our support and feedback and acknowledgements from that set of peers. Probably thirty years ago, this group of men were part of a larger group in the congregation. Illness and age and mobility has decreased the size of their group and now it's down to four. I don't know why it is that we all carve out our places to sit, we all have the pews we've got to sit in and the nods and hellos we make a point to always do.
Some of us will get married and/or have kids and some of us won't but having kids doesn't mean you're set in old age in terms of not being left alone. One of the guys has six kids. They visit at holidays for a few hours. One son, who lives in another state, calls twice a month and his daughter writes him regularly. But I don't think that's how, when he was my age, he saw his old age - kids keeping in touch via phone and mail, living in a retirement home.

From The Third Estate Sunday Review, I'll note "World News Tonight's hard hitting reporting (a parody)" and I'll note that it's not in screenplay format. We tried to get it into proper format but when the names were centered over dialogue, for instance, they'd switch over to the left margin in publishing automatically. From the entry:

The "personalized manner" in which ABC's World News Tonight saluted Peter Jennings work Monday, combined with the naval gazing quality of turning over so much of the evening broadcast of a show entitled World News Tonight made us wonder what else we could expect from ABC in the future?


Activity on the floor as people rush around. We take in various technicians that make up the crew.

Slowly we move towards the anchor desk where CHARLIE GIBSON is getting last minute make up touches and DIANE SAWYER sits with eyes closed, centering herself.


counting down, with fingers, from five as THEME MUSIC BLARES.

Good evening. I'm Charlie Gibson and this is World News Tonight. Our top story, Diane Sawyer. How are you doing, Diane?

Tired, but you know all about that, Charlie!

Both guffaw.

Those early Good Morning America hours can try a soul! Ah, but seriously, let's go to Barbara Walters.


on a monitor in a pre-recorded interview.

Diane was someone you knew to watch. I remember when she was at other networks. I'd watch. You knew to watch. You'd see her and think, "That girl, that's someone to watch." I remember saying that to Sam Donaldson once.


on a monitor in a pre-recorded interview.

Barbara Walters always likes to tell the story that she told me Diane Sawyer was someone to watch. Well there are two sides to every story and here's mine: I am the one who noticed Diane Sawyer. I told Barbara, "That's someone to watch."

At the anchor desk, Charlie, with a serious expression, shuffles papers.

Diane's had an illusturous career here at ABC. She's interviewed everyone from Michael Jackson to Daniel Ortega. Over the years, she's delivered many memorable moments. But viewers haven't seen all of them.


on the monitor. Diane is at the Michael Jackson Neverland Ranch. Diane teases Bubbles the chimp with a banana. Diane grins at the camera. Bubbles grabs the banana. Diane gasps and bursts into laughter.

At the anchor desk, Diane smiles warmly towards the camera.

I've always believed that as a journalist, the most important thing I can do is tell a story. You've got two and half minutes, in some cases, to convey a complex story and viewers depend upon you to bring the news that's important to them . . . to them. I'm very proud of the work I did in Afghanistan.


as we track her, she turns to the camera, lifts up the bottom hem of her burka and reveals she is wearing go-go boots. Dropping the hem, Diane bursts out laughing and slaps her knee with her right hand.

At the anchor desk, Diane smiles to Charlie.

After the commerical, we'll be back with an equally hard hitting look at John Stossel. This is World News Tonight.

Diane nods seriously.

John Stossel, grim faced, dour reporter or network cut-up?


nervously around. Then we see he's holding a whoopi cushion and standing by a desk.

The name plate on the desk reads "Hugh Downs."Still looking around, John pulls out the chair behind the desk, places the whoopi cushion in the chair, pushes the chair back up to the desk and, giggling, runs out of the office.


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