deadlines amuse me

exploring how the world works and why it works that way …

Archive for February 2008

Sen. McCain and sex? It only seemed like a good story

leave a comment »

Perhaps the most disingenuous word a journalist can deploy is seemed. My newsroom godfather taught me that the use of seemed, seems or other forms of the word means the reporter is guessing, that the reporter has found no clear evidentiary link between Fact A and Fact B.

In its now highly ridiculed story about Sen. John McCain’s relationships with lobbyists, particularly with Vicki Iseman, The New York Times used seemed twice:

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest. [6th graf]

One of his efforts, though, seemed self-contradictory. In 2001, he helped found the nonprofit Reform Institute to promote his cause and, in the process, his career. It collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in unlimited donations from companies that lobbied the Senate commerce committee. Mr. McCain initially said he saw no problems with the financing, but he severed his ties to the institute in 2005, complaining of “bad publicity” after news reports of the arrangement. [31st graf]

To seem means to be judged to be; to appear to be true, probable, or evident; or to appear to be something. As a transitive verb, seem is used to suggest uncertainty — not, as The Times failed to do, tie one set of facts to another set of facts and thus conclude with certainty we gotcha.
Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 24, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Flash: Sen. Denny quits prez race, cites cost of buying superdelegates

with one comment

For the moment, consider me as two-term Sen. Denny. (I’ll wait a moment until the laughter subsides.) It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that I am, in essence, more a professional fundraiser than a politician. I need money to remain in office — and I need money to acquire influence while in office in case I should seek higher office.

Giving money to other politicians binds them to you. It represents not-so-subtle I.O.U.’s to be collected if, for example, I decide to run for president.

So I establish a “leadership political action committee.” Call it DocPAC. My fellow members of Congress have them, y’know, and so do a lot of other politically savvy folks. We raise money through these leadership PACs independent of our regular campaign committees. And here’s what makes them politically useful: I can give up to $5,000 per election to any federal candidate. And believe me, those party hacks, er, loyalists, immediately become my pals.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 23, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Quotabull

leave a comment »

I believe my current participation could be a distraction.

— major league baseball pitcher and accused steroids and HGH cheat Roger Clemens, in withdrawing from a scheduled appearance at an “event, which takes place largely at Disney Hollywood Studios, and lets fans interact with athletes and ESPN personalities and watch live ESPN programming”; Feb. 20.

I’m very excited about watching this game. I do want to thank your coaches. Thanks for coaching. Thanks for teaching people the importance of teamwork. I like baseball a lot, so thanks for teaching them how to play baseball, too.

— from President Bush’s remarks at a “tee ball” game between the Little Dragons and the Little Saints at Ghana International School in Accra, Ghana; Feb. 20.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 22, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

‘Penny’ press redux: a new business model for journalism?

leave a comment »

Edward Wasserman, writing in the Feb. 18 Miami Herald, makes an obvious but still unsettling point about the news business:

The nearly two-century-old marriage between consumer advertising and journalism is on the rocks.

Prof. Wasserman, the Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University, recounts that two hundred years from the penny press to the difficulties that “new media” have with a business model that presumes people will pay for news — and therefore advertisers will pay to park themselves in front of those eyeballs. But, says Prof. Wasserman:

That era is now ending, not because the public no longer needs news or because people mistrust news any more than they always have — but because new technologies are churning out better ways to reach customers who are shopping for cars, jobs or homes.

For two centuries, advertising has supported journalism. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press — but does not guarantee profitability. That news organizations must achieve without government support.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 18, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

AP story on MRAP delay shows need for good journalism, whistleblowers

leave a comment »

An Associated Press story about a leaked internal study that accuses the Marine Corps of delays in providing mine-resistant vehicles to its forces in Iraq provides ample reason why good journalism is a social and political must, government whistleblowers ought to be fully protected from retribution, and journalists should not be compelled to identify anonymous sources.

First, the news:

Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes.

The study claims that battlefield commanders asked for MRAP vehicles to replace Humvees because the latter — even with additional armor — did not fare well when struck by improvised explosive devices, leading to deaths and injuries of soldiers riding in them. MRAPs — 40-ton mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles — have “V-shaped hulls that deflect blasts out and away from the vehicles,” says the AP story.

MRAPs were seen by bureaucrats, the study says, as too plodding for the rapid-deployment visions of Marine planners.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 16, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

It’s hack ‘n’ whack time at The Times: 100 newsroom cuts planned

leave a comment »

It is a good time to be a deceitful politician or a pay-for-favors lobbyist or a crooked corporate CEO. That’s because the profession that is charged in a democracy with ferreting out such miscreants is losing some members of its “A” team.

Despite its ills and errors, The New York Times remains the best newspaper in America. But the business model to which the industry remains fanatically obsessed — maximize shareholder income at the expense of the quality of its product — is about to slip a knife into the muscle and bone of The Times‘ reporting staff.

The Times will trim its newsroom staff of 1,332 by about 100:

The cuts will be achieved “by not filling jobs that go vacant, by offering buyouts, and if necessary by layoffs,” the executive editor, Bill Keller, said. The more people who accept buyouts, he said, “the smaller the prospect of layoffs, but we should brace ourselves for the likelihood that there will be some layoffs.” He said, “We intend to move quickly, to get any cuts past us so that we do not spend a year bleeding slowly.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 15, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Sen. Clinton fails own standard; time to end her campaign

with one comment

Feb. 12, 2008
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Sen. Clinton,

When I stepped into the voting booth in the New York state primary Feb. 5, I pulled the lever for Sen. Barack Obama, not you, my state’s junior senator. But I had misgivings.

Not any more. Any doubts I had about the wisdom of my choice of Sen. Obama vanished when you chose not to show up on Capitol Hill to vote on the critical cloture vote on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill. As passed by the Senate, that bill would grant retroactive legal immunity for the telecommunication companies that aided the federal government in spying on Americans. Although Sen. Obama (and you) did not vote on final passage (a foreordained formality by this point), he showed up to vote on the issue of cloture. He voted when it counted. You didn’t.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 12, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized