Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: Tuesday on NPR's Morning Edition, they did a story on Cindy Sheehan:

The Span of War
Soldier's Mother Holds Vigil Near Bush Ranch
by David Greene
Morning Edition, August 9, 2005 · The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier is holding a roadside peace vigil near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan, who wants troops pulled out of Iraq, says she'll stay until the president agrees to meet with her.

The issue I had with this story was that it broadcast on Tuesday and by Monday afternoon, most following the story already knew that Ms. Sheehan had been threatened with arrest on Thursday yet this didn't make Mr. Greene's story. The issue I have with the coverage of Ms. Sheehan over all on Morning Edition is that Mr. Greene's story is it. In another time, when NPR was braver and less structured, Ms. Sheehan would be profiled each day because her vigil is news and this is a story that speaks to NPR listeners.

Instead they appear to avoid the story in the same way other big media does. That works out as one story on Ms. Sheehan's mission that's then pointed to with a defensive, "We did cover that!"
I'm very disappointed in Morning Edition.

Wednesday morning, the following story aired:

'Meth Mouth' Strains Prison Health-Care Budgets
by Laura Sullivan
Morning Edition, August 10, 2005 · In just a few years, the use of the drug methamphetamine has spread to all corners of the country, from rural farm towns, to suburbs and now to inner cities. Costs for cracking down on meth abuse are straining small-town law enforcement -- and taking their toll on state prisons, too.
Meth is made from hydrochloric acid. When users smoke meth, the acid in the drug erodes their tooth enamel. The drug also leaves users dehydrated and craving sweets. Add up a loss of tooth enamel, a constant sweet tooth and a disregard for brushing, and you end up with teeth that are little more than little black stubs -- a condition known as "meth mouth."
As more and more meth abusers end up behind bars, prisons are having to devote a growing portion of their health-care budgets to emergency dental care. The problem is costing prisons and taxpayers a fortune.

My issue with this report was a certain snide attitude at the end of the segment. Listen to the story, if you're interested, and you can determine for yourself whether a remark by Ms. Sullivan appears necessary to the story and whether or not is snide.

Along with listening to Morning Edition, and not being very impressed of late, I've also been reading the e-mails and attempting to listen to suggested programs.

One suggest program, which Tracey and I both enjoyed, was CounterSpin. It's syndicated but we heard it online via WBAI. The thing that stood out, besides Janine Jackson's skills as a host, was an interview with Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher. The topic was Hiroshima and they discussed Mr. Mitchell's article "The Press and Hiroshima." The show didn't speak down to listeners and Tracey noted that so of course I'm including the observation.

Saturday, I listened to Progressive Radio at the request of Lloyd who e-mailed in praise of the show. Progressive Radio is a half-hour show hosted by Matthew Rothschild who is the editor of
the magazine The Progressive. The guest was Dolores Huerta and the topics included the women's movement, the farm labor movement and Ceaser Chavez.

Mr. Rothschild has a very appealing radio personality and the half-hour played out like a conversation. Ms. Huerta spoke movingly of how dehumanizing our society can be and how farm workers were denied benefits and basic rights (including, but not limited to, access to a toilet) through a variety of tactics all rooted in them being looked at as less than others. As Huerta noted, providing food to our society is a noble job. For anyone who, like me, remembers the boycotts (such as on grapes) the conversation not only informed but brought back times when our committments to social change seemed stronger.

If Progressive Radio doesn't air in your area, or if it does but you miss an episode, you can listen online.

A number of members e-mailed about WBAI programs. One we listened to Monday was Joy of Resistance. This airs on WBAI the first Monday of each month from ten a.m. to eleven a.m. (EST). The topic that stood out to Tracey and I was the history involving the second wave of the feminist movement in this country. The guest for that topic was a young woman who was part of the Red Stockings. It was a lively conversation which led to an even longer discussion between Tracey and I. Good radio should do that and I've been impressed with the programming on WBAI.

I was hoping to listen to some of the KPFA programs that members have been suggesting but my grandson's become quite lively and seems to delight in crawling off. His favorite spot is beneath the couch where he'll grin at you but seems to believe you don't know he's under there.
Some of you have written to ask why I don't name my grandson here. I've shared photos and his name in the krista & gina round-robin but that's a private communication. I have many grandchildren but Tracey's the only one who's asked to be mentioned by name. This week, I've had five grandchildren over each day. I try to respect their wishes and not put in anything that's going to get them teased at school. But Marcia e-mailed and she guessed correctly why I always say "my grandson" when I'm referring to my youngest grandchild. She's suggested that I use Elijah in honor of community member Eli and I like that suggestion.

Lyle asked me if I was more impressed with the programming on Pacifica or NPR? I support NPR and am glad it exists but as I've listened to more of WBAI's programming I've realized that the changes at NPR that I've bemoaned but more or less accepted have greatly limited the network. I hope to listen to more programming on other Pacifica stations but with just WBAI to go on, I'll note that I hear a greater range of voices and many more topics. I've listened to shows that I haven't noted here and that's sometimes been because I've only heard snippets while changing or playing with Elijah or while talking to my grandchildren but I've been impressed with the snippets as well. WBAI is community radio serving the public. I wish I could firmly say the same about NPR but the changes in the last two decades have robbed NPR not only of its personality but also of a range that they previously explored. Maybe that's the nostalgic memories of an old woman. But NPR used to inform and excite me in the seventies. While I still feel informed, excited doesn't occur that often.

I am attempting to listen to other Pacifica stations so if you've suggested a program, I am attempting to listen to it. Hopefully, next week I'll be able to pick up a few more programs.