LettersSTATE OF THE PRESS The articles on “The Changing Press” (Spring 2008) force those of us in the journalism business to think seriously about our future—and the future of the business, which is one of the problems these days. The journalism world that used to consist of investigation, truth, objectivity, and public advocacy has become just that, a business.
The network newscasts forged in the sixties and seventies face viewer shortages, thanks to competition from cable outlets, digital, mobile, and the dot-com worlds (sometimes within their own companies). We need to figure out how to meet the traditional challenges of objectivity and fairness while meeting the business challenges.
Edward R. Murrow’s kind of journalism needs to take back the airwaves. A blogger does not always a journalist make. Nor does a person on television interviewing politicians always a journalist make. The responsibility now lies with the press—broadcast, digital, print, new media—to
make it clear which of its representatives are objective voices and which are
not. Our duty, our responsibility, as journalists is to help guide the public,
as has been our charge since the days of Murrow.
I enjoyed the “Changing Press” articles. I have been disturbed by the changes in journalism in recent years. I think you summarized it very well with the quote from former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee: when asked what he though about “citizen journalism,” Bradlee replied, “About what you think of citizen surgery.” Even
the so-called underwriting on National Public Radio has been sounding more
and more like commercial advertising. At least your articles bucked the trend
and provided some in-depth reporting. Keep up the good work.
Edward R. Murrow’s sententious manner may well have been matched by unique excellence in reporting (“What Would Murrow Do?,” Spring 2008). I leave that evaluation to historians, even though I suspect that his reputation owed something to the same ideological consensus that built the reputation of Walter Cronkite. No matter what Murrow’s achievement, I cast my vote for Bill O’Reilly as the greatest journalist in the history of television. Granted that O’Reilly is a news analyst, not a reporter, and that some of his stories can be classified as entertainment, but I have never witnessed anything like O’Reilly’s candid honesty and rhetorical skill in dealing with challenging issues. The surest sign of O’Reilly’s essential rationality and logical power is the contemptuous and contemptible responses he has gotten from the atheistic core of the modern journalistic and academic worlds. These responses have set a new standard for ugly mendacity in American culture. O’Reilly cannot afford the luxury of Murrow’s
lofty tone, but he exhibits an even more valid sort of rhetorical power and
flexibility of theme.
In the end I am glad I was an English major. It is an interesting and intuitive
way of getting at truth. None of the academic disciplines can explain life
to you. Each contributes in its own way, and the joy of learning comes in the
attempt to weave them all together.
MUSIC TO HIS EARS I would like to thank you for “The Town That Made Beethoven” (Spring 2008). In all the years I have received and read Tufts Magazine, I don’t think I ever read such an informative and imaginative article. Not only did I gain new insights into the character of the great composer, but I also learned a great deal about the period in which Beethoven lived, the Napoleonic Wars, the importance of the epochs that influenced him, and the setting of his great Choral Symphony.
Why can’t you publish more articles like this one? They could replace those
dreadful wedding photographs.
You smacked one out of the park with your very creative approach to
the article “He-e-ere’s the Pitch” (Spring 2008)!
“He-e-ere’s the Pitch,” like most of the “Jumbolaya” department, was the brainchild of our contributor Beth Horning.
THE ART OF SEEING
“Blinded” (Spring 2008) is such a compelling story of a family
confronted by crisis. I really liked how the author, Grace Talusan, deals with
blindness on two levels—her niece’s and her father’s. I felt most deeply for
her father. In Greek, we say that “the child of my child is two times my child.” His
pain must have been enormous, and that was clearly communicated in Ms. Talusan’s