Anchored and floundering

I noticed in Slate’s current magazine roundup that apparently the cover story for the New York Times Magazine’s May 19th edition is about network news and the fact that it’s “not dead,” particularly now in post 9/11 America. Sayeth the Slate blurb: “Viewers returned to the networks because they trusted Tom, Peter, and Dan more than the screaming heads on cable.” An anchor in that other sense of the word.

Contrast this to a piece that appears in the May 20th (print) edition of The New Republic by Slate columnist Rob Walker: “Anchor Steam: Why the Evening News is Worse than ‘O’Reilly'”. While Walker acknowledges that all three networks did a good job in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 (not sure I agree, see my comments here), he makes the point that “the network news, which defends itself against detractors by invoking the earnest sobriety of its broadcasts, contains as much hype and fake populism as any of its cable competitors.” In the end, Walker wonders why they even bother.

Elsewhere, veteran journo David Halberstam weighs in with his opinion.

Slate Overkill?

There’s a good Slate piece by Jack Shafer today about the tiff between Andrew Sullivan and New York Times executive editor Howell Raines.

In the last graph, Shafer writes: “In typical overkill, a recent New York Post headline called the personnel changes ‘Terror Raines at the Times.'” Agreed, typical overkill. Yet on Slate’s own home page, I couldn’t help noticing the following graphic promoting their article:


Uh, can we say overkill?

Fortuyn the bell tolls…

Perhaps risking showing myself to be a completely uninformed world citizen, I will admit that until he was assassinated a week and a half ago, I’d never heard of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. Now having read more than I ever wanted to know about him, I don’t think I was missing much.

Am I the only one embarassed and not a bit put-off by the endless defenses of web bloggers (those worth reading and those that aren’t) and how Weblogs supposedly “covered the story of Pim Fortuyn’s death better than the major media” (as one blogger put it)? I’m the last one to defend the mainstream media, whom I naturally suspect doesn’t get (or print) the whole story 99.9% of the time. But enough already. Fortuyn’s popularity was based on stoking fear among the Dutch, and as he himself said when a reporter suggested that the people who would vote for him were racist, “So what? Why they vote for me is irrelevant, but if they do they’re in safe hands.”