Saturday, December 06, 2008

War Hawk Barack

In an article buried on page 35 of its main news section, the New York Times Thursday provided a candid analysis of the glaring contradiction between the antiwar sentiments to which Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama appealed in the run-up to the November election and the actual policies that President-elect Obama is preparing to implement come January.
The article, written by Times Pentagon correspondent Thom Shanker, is entitled "Campaign promises on ending the war in Iraq now muted by reality." This headline belies the real situation, as the "reality" of the Iraq war has not changed in any fundamental way in the month since the American people went to the polls.
Rather what has taken place--in a manner that is breathtaking for both it speed and blatancy--is Obama's repudiation of his campaign pledge to end the Iraq war, which proved decisive in his victories in both the Democratic primary contest and the general election itself.
Of course, for those who listened closely, this pledge was always severely hedged, by Obama's statements about leaving a "residual force" in the occupied country and listening to recommendations by US military commanders. But, in the campaign itself, these caveats were overshadowed by his continuous criticism of the Bush administration over the war and his indictment of his principal rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, for her October 2002 vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq.

The above is from Bill Van Auken's "New York Times bares Obama's campaign lies on Iraq war" (WSWS) and click here for Shanker's article. We covered the article Thursday morning in "Mark the calendar, New York Times provides some truths" and it was also mentioned in that day's snapshot. Melissa noted Van Auken's article and asked about page 35?

The New York Times is a piece of crap that is destroying it's ability to be a reference tool. It is going to see a huge drop off in citations academically because it cannot get its s**t together.

First, Van Auken is not 'wrong.' He's not lying for sure. But the paper online maintains Shanker's article ran on A35. If so, it was buried.

Is the paper a provincial affair because most of us thought it was a national newspaper and, goodness knows, that's why it is cited so frequently academically. If it ran on A35, big if, the Times says (online) that this was in the New York edition. Who gives a ___ what the local version had? Seriously. The paper is available (still) in print at a variety of libraries across the country -- campus libraries, public libraries, you name it. Now someone in Michigan goes to their campus library for research and cites an NYT article in an academic paper and their professor, checking the references, pulls up the article online and sees a different page, that student's going to suffer. S/he may be able to convince the professor that there's a difference between the national and the local version. Even so, that student has had to go through a huge hassle and is going to be far less inclined to ever again cite the New York Times. He or she will share their story with classmates and friends. Hearing the story, they will be less likely to cite the New York Times. Some of those people will go into academia themselves and, due to the experience, will make a point not to cite that paper in their professional work.

The paper needs to get their damn act together. If you have a local edition and a national edition, you go with the national edition. That's a given. It's reach is greater, that version is in more university and public libraries than the local version. It is the standard.

When you go back and forth on standards, you're asking for the academic world to ignore you. If the academic world walks away from the New York Times, it can go the way of the New York Daily Mirror, the New York Journal-American, the New York Morning Post, the New York Morning Telegraph, the New York Globe, the New York Graphic, and a multitude of others. The Times is not the best paper by any means, nor has it ever been. Not the best national, not the best serving NYC. But what has saved it while others have gone under has been family control of the stocks and the paper's image. Either of those things changing and the paper could go the way of the ones listed earlier. The image is especially important to the paper because most of the things J-school now teaches can be traced to the paper of record.

If it can't get the basics down for citations, it doesn't have a much of future. That's reality and, at the top of the paper (the top, not the hired hands), that fact is known. (Maybe the idiotic sourcing is some sort of an executive 'slow down' protest?)

They have to standardize their process. In the past, the gripes of this nature are taken care of but they do appear to happen repeatedly and it does appear to take forever for the paper to address the issues. It should be one person's job to ensure that there is a standardized process and that any changes do not effect the academic world negatively. No one has such a job, it's thought that these things are caught and get straightened out. That's not good enough. Someone needs to be assigned the task. (Iraq is obviously a topic that is outside the NYC region. There is no harm in NYC stories being noted as where they ran on the local edition -- the local edition carries many more NYC stories while the nation version carries about two to four pages most days.) And someone needs to be assigned the task of checking to the person who's supposed to be ensuring academic cohesiveness.

The following community sites have updated since Friday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;
and Stan's Oh Boy It Never Ends

Wally and Cedric go up this morning but Mike's posting this for me (I have to catch a flight) and I told him not to wait too long. (If they're already up -- Wally and Cedric -- you aren't reading this unless Mike forgot to delete it. And thank you to Mike, by the way. Always.)

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bill van auken

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends