Saturday, August 13, 2005

NYT: "Mother's Grief-Fueled Vigil Becomes Nexus for Antiwar Protestors" (Anne E. Kornblut)

We'll focus on Anne E. Kornblut's "Mother's Grief-Fueled Vigil Becomes Nexus for Antiwar Protestors" in this morning's New York Times.

It's not on the front page. It's also not mentioned in "Today's Headlines: Vast Archive Yields New View of 9/11" which is the daily e-mail the Times sends out promoting what they feel are the important stories in each day's edition. (Thanks to Karla for forwarding that.) Maybe it was filed so late, the story, that there was no way that it could make the front page?

I'm not buying that. Near the end of the article, Kornblut writes of "rumors of a counterprotest were reampant . . . busload of pro-war activits from Dallas [who] . . . had not arrived." That busload did arrive and it was before eight p.m. EST. So the Times should have had Kornblut's article in plenty of time to have front paged it.

A decision was made not to. The same way a decision was made not to note the article in the e-mail they sent out early this morning. It's apparently, for instance, more important to trumpet David S. Cloud's article -- which, in print, appears on the same page as Kornbluts, A7 -- about Kevin P. Byrnes' affair. I'm not really sure why that article is even in the paper. Byrnes doesn't appear to be speaking to reporters at the Times. The Washington Post told their readers from the day the story broke what was going on. The Times initial coverage, on the same day, knew nothing of an affair. (Or didn't report it.) So here we are, days later, and the Times feels this is news. I don't think it is. There's nothing in the article that's news. There's gossip. I don't mean Cloud's speculating and I'm not slamming him for a frivilous approach (he writes the tawdry piece in a professional manner). But this isn't news. It isn't even good gossip or new gossip. And I'm reminded again of a Joni Mitchell song, "Wouldn't they like their peace/Don't we get bored" ("Three Great Stimulants" off Mitchell's Dog Eat Dog -- written by Mitchell).

There was a lot of "We don't like reporting on sex!" denials during the Clinton years. Someone likes it or they wouldn't keep running this crap. Byrnes isn't speaking, the woman alleged to be involved in the consensual affair isn't speaking. "Army officials disclosed . . ." For what reason? And for what reason does the Times feel this is a topic worth writing about and self-promoting?
"General Disobeyed Orders to End Affair, Officials Say." Why wags talking about this already covered topic is news (and it's on the Times' main page of their web site as well) is beyond me.

Back to Kornblut, two AP photos by LM Otero illustrates the article (thanks to Kyle for e-mailing on that, I generally miss the photos and focus solely on the text) as does a photo by Mandel Ngan (Getty Images). Does the Times have a photographer in Crawford?

Kornblut leads with the visit to Camp Casey by Viggo Mortensen which suggests that Sherry was correct in her e-mail yesterday that if "Viggo would drop his pants and show that fine ass, this story would be all over the news." Sherry's a fan of Mortensen and Kornblut's smart in opening with him. I don't think she's trivializing the issue but using Mortensen as a hook. (Others might disagree.) (And might be correct.) She sketches out the basics in this story. (Which is the first serious look the Times has done since Monday's piece by Richard W. Stevenson.)

I have a few quibbles with Kornblut's reporting but I see no "Howler" (again, others may disagree -- but then they'd first have to mention the issue and . . .)

The aspect of Cindy Sheehan and her husband seperating is noted. If Kornblut wanted to go historical (or up the drama) she could note that this isn't uncommon when parents lose a child and one parent (usually the mother) becomes an advocate. This isn't uncommon. And when the parents don't seperate, there's still usually tension.

At some point, the Times may file a story on that and though it's more of a think piece (at best) it needs to be said since some are using the seperation to advance their own line (not based in fact) that Sheehan's husband holds a different view of the war. It goes to the way in which people view a loss. That's not an insult to Sheehan's husband. But there is conditioning and socialization that comes into play and the Times (or someone) should write about that. It has nothing to do with one partner not feeling the same level of grief, it does go to how they address their grief and how they've been conditioned to deal with the grief. (And there is data to back it up if the Times cares to look into it.)

Some may take offense to "publicity-savy" but I don't see it an insult. Gold Star Families for Peace (as well as Military Families Speak Out and CODEPINK) are "publicity-savy" and if they weren't, the story would never have registered the way it has because most people wouldn't have heard of it.

I haven't heard Laura Flanders yet (filling in Friday night for Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder on The Majority Report -- I'll listen to the archived show at Air America Place) but Edna e-mailed that Flanders made a strong point about how the fact that Cindy Sheehan went to the Bully Boy in an otherwise non-eventful press period. As I understand the point (listen to the archived broadcast, this is second-hand) Flanders is pointing out that this says something about the nature of the press today (and it's not something good): instead of going out and getting the story, the story has to come then.

Kornblut's written a strong article (my opinion) and the big question is why the Times feels it's one to bury inside the paper (or to not promote, either at the main page of the web site or in their daily e-mail)? There's no reason Kornblut couldn't have made her deadline (and I have no knowledge that she didn't) but a piece that should be front page isn't.

Edna also noted "Anthony Lappe, Executive Editor at the Guerilla News Network, GNN" who was interviewed last night by Flanders and discussed "The Good News Roundup" (a regular Friday feature at GNN) and asked that we note that. (Savanna Reid writes that feature for GNN.) Edna also noted that Lappe discussed the Winter Soldier Investigation. It's a strong film and one worth noting (and seeing). Edna wondered why it didn't get noted when David M. Halbfinger wrote of it in "Film Echoes the Present in Atrocities of the Past" earlier this week in the Times. It was an arts story in the arts section and no member e-mailed about it.

It was also a whitewash in my opinion. With a variety of reasons of why the film didn't get more attention originally. "Major news organizations sent reporters but published and broadcast next to nothing of what they filed . . ." Which major news organzations?

It wasn't Life Magazine. Jane Fonda agreed to sit down with them for a profile in exchange for their agreement to cover the three days of truth telling. Which major news organizations?

Then we're offered a nonsense bit about how since it was an ensemble piece it was hard for the film to get traction. Says who? Says Halbfinger who's already told you that mysteriously "major news organizations" hadn't wanted to cover the event. Maybe on a slow news day (say one of their skimpy Mondays), the Times could reach into the vault and publish anything they didn't publish on the Winter Soldier Investigation while it was taking place?

Which more or less brings us back to how we started this entry. Viggo Mortensen's arrival at Camp Casey is what Kornblut leads with. Life Magazine agrees to cover the Winter Soldier Investigation to get a cover story on Jane Fonda. We'll falsely call it symmetry and close out on that note.

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