|Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 21:29:05 -1000
Subject: Concerns about new Honolulu Weekly editor
I was checking your website to see if you had more info on the incoming editor at the Honolulu Weekly. Not finding anything, I went to the Anchorage Press website and found enough there to suggest he's not only not very progressive--he appears to be consciously and explicitly anti-left.
Very few of his editorials were explicitly political. In fact they cultivated a jaded apoliticism (is that a word?) and remind me more of the "Clubbed to Death" column in the weekly than what I would expect an editorial in an "alternative" weekly to sound like.
But that was part of Robert Meyerowitz's mission-- to move away from being a "left of center" pro-environment, anti-corporate rag.
When he did talk explicit politics, it often revealed an anti-left orientation, as expressed in his editorial mocking the anti-war demonstrators, "Circus, Circus" or his gratuitous attacks on Castro and the Sandinistas. (He rarely wanted to cover national or international stories, but to bash the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions, he made a conspicuous exception.
My sense, from reading the letters to the editor, is that the previous editor of the Anchorage Press, Jon Lurie, was canned shortly after 9/11, apparently for not being "patriotic" enough in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Meyerowitz's interest in micro-brews, strip clubs, and the club scene were much safer.
Here is a discussion of Meyerowitz's wants when he became the editor at the Anchorage Press:
Robert Meyerowitz filled in while the paper searched for a new editor. Hed come to the Press with a background in traditional journalism at the Daily News and other papers. Hed also been a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio and a freelance writer for magazines like Details and Marie Claire.
The Press job seemed to be his for the asking, but he wasnt sure. So he tagged along with Coltman on sales calls and talked with him about the publishers vision.
"I walked away from that conversation thinking, OK, this guy can give me what I want, the advertising support to do what I want and make this worth my while," Meyerowitz recalled.
The first thing he wanted was a staff. And that wasnt all. He also wanted the broad discretion to forge the papers character. He wasnt interested in running a leftist tip sheet, he said. He wanted to edit a paper that examined all assumptions. He was asking for a lot, he knew.
He got it.
Can we assume that he has a similar understanding with Laurie Carlson this time? If so, it bodes ill for our sole progressive news source in this town.
Some letters from the 9/11 editorial transition period:
THE RUMORS WERE TRUE
Was your editor really fired for political views? Say it aint so, cause that sucks. I really like the Press but if this rumor is true, Im never reading it again. And neither are my 35 friends.
Rob E. Earl
So whats with you guys firing the editor Jon Lurie? Heard you felt his political views were inappropriate. Who do you think you are, The Daily News? If he is fired, I am going to call your advertisers I frequent and tell them I am withdrawing my support from their businesses until they do the same towards you. Because free speech needs its avenues; there are so few outlets for truth in our society today and my concern is you are selling out for the almighty dollar. Dont want to piss off those republican Christians, ay? GET REAL! YOU ARE COPPING OUT! DONT BECOME A MONEY WHORE!! DONT BE A TRAITOR TO TRUTH.
I was disappointed to learn that management has fired Jon Lurie as Anchorage Press Editor and replaced him with someone who has a more conservative bent. I am a Press reader because it has offered refreshing fare from the pabulum of the Anchorage Daily News. If the Press becomes like the ADN, my suspicion is that many of your readers will not bother to pick it up.
Unfortunately, it seems the owners of the Press dont realize the purpose of an editor is to have an opinion. With Lurie as editor, Anchorage has had an "alternative" paper, in viewpoint, not just its non-daily status. There is a progressive voice in this community and we want to be represented.
Im sure Jon Lurie will be answering the questions of whether or not he is quitting in the Press soon. Ive really enjoyed all of your editorials. Youre doing a great job there it seems, even after losing Susy and Rachel, it still seems to be keeping pace. Great job man.
Why did you fire Jon Lurie?
LETTER FROM AN ADVERTISER
I am the treasurer of ACALA, Alaskans Concerned About Latin America, and want to let you know that we advertised the fall classes in our Spanish program in September precisely because I wanted to support Jon Lurie, the editor for the last several months. In previous years, we used the Anchorage Press to get our message out only now and then because we felt it wasnt reaching our market. However, with Mr. Luries assurance that he would print all letters to the editor, and with the interesting coverage of many events in Anchorage and elsewhere, we realized that, like ourselves, many people in Anchorage were not only reading the Anchorage Press, but actually anticipating it each week. I must add that the enrollment in our Spanish classes has doubled, but, of course, I cant attribute this to the ad in the Press. However, I do want to reiterate that that ad would not have been placed had it not been for the sympathetic attitude of your editor, Jon Lurie. I trust it is only a sick rumor that he has been fired, but hasten to support him if, in fact, it is true. For a better world,
Meyerowitz's view of an alternative weekly's need to report on national and international stories like the war in Afghanistan. ( A synopsis:"Hey, you can already read it on Alternet! Let's focus on the local music scene, seedy nightlife and micro-brews!"
A Distant Rumor
Overnight the world shrinks. Sipping coffee in the morning, I look out the window above my sink and see nothing but a reflection of my lighted kitchen. I dash out without a jacket to start my car, knowing Ill be back inside in less time than it takes to defrost a frozen bagel. When I go back out several minutes later, its like a scene from a Kiss show, all smoke shot through with bright light.
In August our landlord rewired part of our house and removed the outlet above our door that for years had held a small bare bulb. Standing in the doorway on a day warm enough for shorts, he asked if I wanted him to install another light. Yes, I said and would it be possible to put in a big reflector-type light this time?
Now when I take Loxi, my puppy, out to pee in the morning, were lone actors in a spotlight on a darkened stage. Her breath mingles with the cars low-hanging exhaust. Its like weve wandered into the climax of "King Lear."
We were out in our little snowglobe recently when I heard a buzzing sound. Straining, I could just make out a reporters British accent. I opened the car door and listened: Rob Gifford was reporting for NPR from Islamabad. He said that after weeks of aerial bombardment, the Taliban was showing no signs of weakening. And then he added, ominously, that it would soon be winter in Afghanistan.
My arms were cold. I closed the door. The tinny voice went on.
Over the last two months Ive wondered whether the Press ought to have more news of the world. When I last edited this paper, a year ago, one of the things I liked about working on a paper in Alaska was that national stories seemed smaller than the way they played in Boise or Duluth. We knew who Monica Lewinsky was, of course, but we had other fish to fry the legacy of hyper-tourism, supermarket mergers, the price of salmon.
Last winter and spring this newspaper carried articles about world events. There was a raft of material that the staff reprinted from AlterNet, an opinionated wire service for weeklies. If you want to see the kinds of articles the Press once had, go to www.alternet.org. (People who dont have a computer with an Internet connection can use one at the library.) Here are some of AlterNets offerings this week:
"Feminists Agonize Over War in Afghanistan, by Sharon Lerner, Village Voice: The military attack on Afghanistan is proving to be an excruciating dilemma for feminists, who are split over how to handle possibly the most misogynistic regime in the world."
The premise here is that any bona fide feminist would be a pacifist, opposed to our new war, or any war (hence the dilemma). And I wonder: did the women who served in WW II betray their sisters?
"The Warmongers Have Landed, by David Corn, AlterNet: After media warhawks declared the U.S. was losing the first round of the war, bombing raids intensified. Coincidence, or pandering to the blow-em-to-bits crowd?"
Thats a fascinating phrase, the "blow-em-to-bits crowd" arent these the same people who coordinate and fight wars? In the words of one former U.S. officer, an army kills people and breaks stuff. To put it yet another way, When the football team was down 10 points, it redoubled its efforts: coincidence or pandering?
Im stymied: If this material is already available free online, what purpose does it serve for a newspaper such as this to reprint it? Isnt it the responsibility of a free press to be more than a parrot?
I suspect there are people who could read these articles online and still want the Press to print them, but what they want is essentially the multiplication of one voice. To me that seems a lot like totalitarianism. Were not going to do that anymore.
I believe our job is to tell you whatever we can about this cold, dark little corner or the world; to shine what light we can on the people, places and things that we can see and touch. You could say were empiricists. I wouldnt complain.
You could say were isolationists, too. Thats the risk were taking, I suppose. But its not as though were sticking our heads in the sand. Our cover story this week is about the Iñupiat whalers of Barrow, who have long known things about the world that Western science is just beginning to value. Eight weeks ago, this papers calendar was anemic, haphazard and tame. If you look starting on page 19 of this weeks issue, youll find the most comprehensive events calendar ever published in this city. This is our way of putting up a big reflector-type light in the yard.
Dont get me wrong: I know theres a war out there. But from where Im sitting it seems like a lit scene on another stage, with miles and miles of darkness between. This morning Loxi barked for a long time at something neither of us could see and then we both went inside.
Meyerowitz resigned as editor of the Press once before, in July 2000. Here is what he wrote at the time:
Hurry up please its time
by Robert Meyerowitz
June 29 - July 5, 2000 / Vol. 9, Ed. 26
I was up in Denali one day in September of 1998 when I got a message that Nick Coltman, the publisher of The Press, wanted to speak with me. The papers previous editor, Ed Carroll, had abruptly left; after 21 months on the job, he was frustrated and angry about workplace issues. The Press needed a new editor right away.
I didnt know if I was cut out for it. I came to Alaska in 1994 to work as a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and left that paper three years later alarmed by its drift under a new editor and disheartened about print journalism. When I departed I told another reporter that I was going to work as a clerk at Barnes & Noble. Somebody asks me what Saul Bellow wrote, I can tell them, I said. And no incompetent editors. Later, when that same reporter had also left the Daily News similarly frustrated, we met at a barbecue. Hed stopped in at Barnes & Noble to visit me, he said, only to find I wasnt there.
Oh, I said, that was a joke but Id been so bitter that it wasnt clear or funny.
Nicks offer came at the right time. It let me put my money where my mouth was. I came back to Anchorage and started at The Press the next day, and Ive been here ever since.
The paper I found 21 months ago was more of a placeholder than a vital organ. I thought of it as a sign that said on this spot a marvel will one day rise. Then I got to work.
Two years ago the editorial side of the paper had almost no staff, and much of the papers contents, including cover stories, came from a syndicate. In 21 months, we expanded to six full-time editorial employees. We beefed up the inside, going from roughly 28 to 36 pages. We tried to cover local news seriously without being solemn. We aimed for clarity and elegance without one coming at the expense of the other. We developed feature pieces and never ran a cover story that wasnt locally assigned or created. We created Blotter to track law enforcement and plumb the human comedy. We launched Beat the Devil, the only source for state and local media criticism. We made Brenda Sokolowski the only print film critic in the state. We designed the Gimme page, added more cartoons and built the recreation section in the back pages. And we carefully edited and proofread every word.
Perhaps even more important than what we did were the things we didnt do. The conventional wisdom is that a paper like this targets a particular audience, usually young adults, and then caters to them with features about subjects they ostensibly prefer, such as obscure college-radio bands, sex and drugs. While our pages have seldom been squeaky clean, I rejected that notion.
I believe a newspaper can create an audience instead of chasing one, can lead, not follow. My goal was to make a virtual community defined not by age, gender or income, but by its common interests interests that we ideally awaken and define. We were making a paper for people who like to read. One of my principal joys in the last year and a half has been meeting readers who dont fit any stereotyped notion of this papers audience the mature women who volunteer at my polling place, or the clerk in Muldoon who was annoyed one day that my beer purchase took her away from reading The Press.
When I started here, people presumed The Press was a left-of-center, pro-environmentalism, anti-corporate sheet. It was crucial to steer us away from such easy postures. I tried to create a framework in which we questioned assumptions and fought conventional wisdom; in that way some of the best stories were revealed. I learned to never underestimate the readers intelligence a simple idea, perhaps, but one thats tested again and again. And I tried to revive one of the basic tenets of journalism: that a newspaper should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. A paper should always look out for the little guy. I hope weve done that.
Whats strange is that it all worked: our readership burgeoned, revenues rose. I was amazed. You could reinvent the wheel and still have several Eureka! moments.
But we didnt own the wheel.
In his memoir The Times of My Life and My Life with The Times, Max Frankel, the former executive editor of the New York Times, looks back on a decision by the papers publisher to endorse a candidate, which cost the head of its editorial pages no little pain. I would have to resign rather than leave my name on a page that betrayed my best judgment, says Frankel. Owners have prerogatives, but the owned have reputations.
I took that to heart.
Ive had occasion to reflect over the last two weeks on what a newspaper is and isnt, and have come to the conclusion that The Press no longer reflects my vision of what a weekly paper should be. Accordingly, I have resigned as editor. Yet my belief in newspapering has been refreshed by my time here.
What comes next at The Press is up to the people who remain, the principles they embrace and the fresh blood they attract. Im sure the paper will continue to grow and become an even more vital part of this community. A year or two from now it may not be the same paper that I envisioned, but theres no reason it cannot be even better.
And, from an earlier editorial:
This edition of The Press is 44 pages. As we sit here in our squalid Midtown quarters furiously typing with two fingers apiece, were proud: Size does matter. So do stories. So let me direct your attention to page 19 for a moment, where we have a lovely spread on margaritas where they come from, what they should contain and where to hunt them in Anchorage. As I write, the U.S. is bombing the crap out of Iraq. You may be asking yourself whether we couldnt find something more relevant than this paean to alcohol. You are obviously not our kind of reader. Please close the paper now and put it back where you found it.
For the rest of you, we also have an amusing look at Ken, Barbies friend, beginning on page 10, replete with a photo of Barbie spanking his bare butt. That amused us; we dont know why. And on page 15 longtime contributor B. Hutton begins a new column, Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time. This week he tells about his days as a cursing buggy driver in New Orleans. Future columns will presumably cover other subjects, but you never know. They could all be about buggy-driving in New Orleans.
Here is one reader's view of THAT approach:
No one cares about hotcakes
Four weeks before the war, the Press's cover story was hotcakes at IHOP (Like hotcakes, January 24-29). No one cares about this bullshit! The Press has not covered a single story on the (then) pending war or anti-war movement. Read any press nationwide. They attack serious issues, expose liars, cheaters and corruption and tackle current events. The Press does rarely. The paper is WEAK.
How about some investigative reporting? How about Governor Murkowski's budget plan, who's getting, who's getting left out? What special interests are getting padded, while funds to the elderly are being cut? Lisa Murkowski's appointment: is she getting anything done? Did she deserve it? Congress just denied Anwr once again. Who is for and who is against and why? The Patriot Act and Patriot Act II and what it means to all citizens? I want to know more about what's going on with Alaska politics and other issues in the state.
You did at least cover the mayoral candidates.
Alaska is not Fairytale Land, it is more than pancakes and beer. One doesn't even have to go beyond a desk to write an investigative report these days - assuming the Press writers know how to use the internet.
You can't please everyone all the time, but there's no excuse for mediocrity. Write about something that actually CONCERNS Alaskans, expose something!
ANCHORAGE'S MOST WIDELY-READ WEEKLY NEWSPAPER
Vol. 12, Ed. 11 March 13 - March 19, 2003
Peace. No to war. No blood for oil. They're simple slogans, and hard to contest; for who believes that, all other things being equal, war is better than peace or we should buy oil with blood?
The people protesting a prospective U.S. invasion of Iraq sometimes remind me of the candidates who say children are our future - an inarguable point because it's no point at all. The question before the candidate is what she proposes to do. If she wants to spend more money on education, other questions follow, such as whether she wants to raise taxes. And there are still more questions: if she must choose, is a tax dollar better spent on computers in classrooms or public health?
The questions facing war dissenters are no less knotty. Do they want to leave Saddam in power? Do they want to leave him in power strengthened, as a withdrawal of U.S. forces now will do? Do they want to give sanctions more time, or is twelve years enough? Do they believe there is any legitimate use of force? If so, when?
Those queries are scarcely addressed. Instead, as the Bush administration fumbles its diplomacy, we are seeing a widening stream of simplistic demands, from the people who emended street signs around West High to read Do Not Enter IRAQ, to our astrology columnist, who alludes to the gathering storm this week by warning Librans that now, in particular, pathological expressions of macho [are running] berserk in the world.
Equally illuminating was a photograph in the Anchorage Daily News last Thursday of a man with a goatee and what appeared to be the visage of Che Guevara on his Nalgene bottle. Beneath the headline UAA students join nationwide protest, we learned that Sol Neely is a teaching assistant in the UAA English Department who was demanding, among other things, restraint on the unchecked hegemony of monopoly capitalism and the war-machine that shapes its violence and defends its oppression, and a pay raise for UAA teaching assistants.
And I want a pony.
Even more than that, I want an intelligent discussion of the risks and benefits of the course the Bush administration is pursuing, and a ban on the proliferation of the word hegemony. It hardly suffices to recycle pious slogans from the sixties and suppose that all war is bad and the president is a capitalist poopy-head. Our entire foreign policy is on a tightrope. The hazards in moving ahead are nearly equal to the dangers in turning back. Dressing in pink, skipping school or wearing a kaffiyeh in homage to Yassir Arafat is about as useful (and no doubt as fun) as getting really wasted and listening to Tubular Bells on headphones.
Meaningful opposition takes into account that we live in imperfect times. We always have. Force and the threat of its use have shaped the world around us, including the U.S., which offers its citizens unprecedented freedom. It's a paradox that no amount of wishing or puppets will dissolve.
On Tuesday, the Daily News ran another stand-alone photograph, this time of a group of Homer women dressed in black, holding their weekly, silent public vigil. The device may be familiar. I first saw it in Jerusalem during the Gulf War, when Israeli women stood silently to protest Israel's presence in Gaza and on the West Bank. Their movement predated the war. As Saddam's Scuds rocked their country, and the Palestinians on the West Bank cheered, you at least had to admire their mute resolve.
The Homer women made a mistake by not staying altogether silent. Their written statement, according to the Daily News, said, We do not necessarily disagree with all wars and we are patriotic Americans. But to us war should never be about oil and if war with Iraq is not primarily about oil, Bush has not convinced us otherwise.
Bush has not convinced me that a stiff wind may blow the roof off the Performing Arts Center, either, but I know it all the same. And I know there is not a lot to do in Homer in the winter - but surely there are other opportunities to call attention to yourself unimpeded by common sense.
Do these protesters really want to dabble in cost accounting? Yes, Bush could do a better job of making the case for invading Iraq - but if all we wanted was oil, would we have pushed for the sanctions that kept Iraq's off the world market since the last Gulf War? Massing the most advanced forces the world has seen is an expensive proposition, as the protesters readily concede. It is so expensive that Iraq's unfettered output may just recompense the cost of the liberation of its people. The opportunity for broader, regional peace, slim as it seems, may be priceless.
If the U.S. pulls out of the desert, will the Homer women keep their vigil each time a reinvigorated Saddam decapitates another Iraqi who dares to challenge his cult of personality? Will they dress in black and go to the corner each time the glimmer of democracy dies? Will they stand silent as U.S.-backed sanctions kill thousands of Iraqi children every year?
All other things are never equal.
- Robert Meyerowitz
Letters in response to "Circus, Circus":
You want intelligent discussion?
In response to Robert Meyerowitz's column Circus, circus (March 13-19), I respectfully submit this. As to the ever-widening stream of simplistic demands made by these chucklehead peaceniks standing out in the cold together speaking out against the astoundingly arrogant wielding of U.S. power and influence, I ask: what else can they do? The average shmuck on the street has no other power available to them but to try to make themselves heard in any way they can. The mainstream media is dominated by right-wing lock-steppers. Trying to be heard there is like farting in the wind.
As far as whether or not to leave Saddam in power, that issue is not ours to decide. In this New World Order we have been shoving down the collective throats of the world, we are bound to work in cooperation with the rest of world, not unilaterally impose our will. How is it that we can defy the United Nations and start a war against a country that has defied the United Nations and not be seen as dirty? The sheer volume of bungles made by this administration, both foreign and domestic, makes it impossible not to speak on those points. And taking that into consideration, how can we have any confidence that this move towards war is anything more than another of their foibles?
As to the risks and benefits of our actions or inaction: The Middle East is rife with conflict, anxiety and hostile intentions. Terrorists could be hiding under every rock! They could be anywhere! Invading will do nothing more than fan the flame that already exists in the hearts and minds of those who would wish us ill. This move towards war could be their final justification for what they feel is a just act of retribution and who will we blame? Could it be our botched attempt at foreign policy or that we bombed his or her home? Nah, that couldn't be it.
Another byproduct of Bush's policy decisions is a growing sense of paranoia and projective hostility and the erosion of our own civil rights and liberties. Not to mention the expanding and, more likely than not, irrevocable powers our government is granting itself. The worst hazard in turning back for George and Tony is that they may seem weak or foolish - and in truth that appears to have been the case ever since Bush came to power.
In these admittedly imperfect times that we live in, is this never-ending quest for dominance and primacy necessarily the wisest or even a sane course to follow? To keep repeating the mistakes made in a history laden with the blood of innocents and the aggressive pursuit of profit shows that we haven't learned anything except maybe how to build a better bomb. Just because we possess this terrible power does it necessarily follow that we have the right or moral authority to use it?
As far as the oil is concerned, the sanctions applied to Iraqi oil were intended to keep Saddam broke; if they had allowed the oil to flow, Saddam would have made money, not Bush, Cheney, Rice and the others. But by invading, U.S. financial interests stand to be served, and wouldn't you know, Halliburton is already in place to move in.
If the U.S. were to stand down, isn't there a chance that in doing so tensions might ease in the region and they would allow U.N. inspectors to do their job? Saddam's oppressive regime would be forced to capitulate. In the cold light of day, with sanctioned U.N. observers and the whole world working and watching together, what's he going to do? Though it may not be the submission position we were looking for, there is progress.
Isn't the ultimate goal to empower the people of Iraq? There might be more of them to empower if we didn't saturation bomb major population centers! Being the world's sole superpower, we are a leader amongst peers. If we chose to lead, what path do we follow? One based on temperance, dignity and humanity, or one driven by fear, retribution and greed? It seems to me the best leaders lead by example.
President Bush has made it clear this war is to protect the American people; well, the truth is I don't feel any need to be protected from the evil Saddam. When we hit Baghdad with our shock-and-awe bombing campaign, three thousand-some-odd bombs will be dropped on Baghdad in the first forty-eight hours. Do we know for certain were the weapons of mass destruction might be hidden? Evidently not - so by pursuing this aggressive approach we might well unleash more collateral damage than we ever dreamed of. So then just how many dissenters and innocent lives will be lost for the ladies in black to stand in silent protest for?
Get out more
Your editorial Circus, circus (March 13-19) was appropriately titled, as it exemplifies not only what is missing and wrong with the American media these days, but unfortunately shows your unbelievable unwillingness to do anything about it.
You say you want intelligent discussion of the risks and benefits of the course the Bush Administration is pursuing... oh please. I'm sorry to be taking this tone within my letter, but instead of writing my letter to the editor discussing why I absolutely support our troops but oppose this war, I am forced by your inaction as a so-called newspaper, and the gall with which you sit back in your office, read the captions of pictures in the Daily News and then somehow comment on the depth or thoughtfulness of citizens who are out there making their well-thought-out statements. With the brief coverage the media gives these days, citizens struggle to get a simple poster slogan or sound bite covered. Then there's your paper, that doesn't even do that, instead looking at pictures in other papers and editorializing.
Witness the photograph on the very last page of last week's Press. There was a Code Pink march of over two hundred and seventy-five women, families, men, young and old last weekend, and what did you do to cover and provide meaningful discussion as the world sits on the brink of war and a forever altered future? You put a picture on the last page that shows nothing, not even a sign, quote, or slogan, let alone in-depth discussion.
Did you know that march was organized by, among others, a friend of mine, who has a full-time day job, a second full-time job as a mother, and still managed in her spare time to help organize that effort? Believe me, she and everyone else I saw put a lot of thought into their signs for that day. What are we Alaskans supposed to do, buy advertising space in your paper to get our viewpoints in there? Shall I place an ad next week, maybe with a bikini-clad woman in it to increase your readership?
I think if you actually went out and talked with a sign holder or an advocate for a peaceful solution, you would find that a lot of thought went into making their statement. People I know in Alaska and elsewhere are very well versed in their opinions of the war - on both sides. Many are forced to be, as their wives, new husbands, expecting fathers, and friends are leaving Alaska for war. I whole-heartedly support these brave men and women and would rather see them return home without having to fight a war. I know dozens of Alaskans who share emails, forward relevant articles, get info from, not the Press, write letters, and spend much of their free time discussing the current state of the world and the misguided actions of this administration - and yes, many of them are forced to sum their opinion on a posterboard which gets remotely discussed by an armchair reporter from the Press.
It is so easy in the comfy U.S. to get home from work, order a pizza, watch Seinfeld re-runs, or look at the pictures in the Daily News, but millions of people are taking to the streets. Amazing. As a journalist you know that every letter on a subject typically represents a hundred others with that viewpoint
w when millions get up and march in the streets... I don't know, but it is far from their initial knee-jerk reaction, with a lot of intelligent thought given for individuals to stand up like that and make their viewpoints known.
You have taken fairly common reporter cynicism to the utmost extreme. Take a step back for a second, realize the significant times we live in today. Realize that when citizens speak out on whatever issue, that something is going on - get out there, report on it, tell us what is going on, hell, editorialize then. Help foster that discussion you say you want, it would only serve to make our great state even better. Your potential readers, and those of us who are starving for intelligent discussion would love for the Press to be that forum for discussion.
I won't even pretend to know how to run a newspaper, but please take some steps to stop spinning your wheels and then write about spinning your wheels. Get a mentor from a successful alternative paper, or an advisory board, something.
Your little rattle
With the network media facing Baghdad and beating the war drum around the clock, I wonder why it should trouble me to hear our local editor for the free press shake his little rattle in unison (Circus, circus, March 13-19). Fifteen years without using chemical weapons seems like a good start for Iraq, not a reason for carpet-bombing that nation. Neither is Hussein's alleged disregard for the will of the U.N. Security Council a reason for war, as our own president is doing as much with his vigilante crusade. You seem to misunderstand the negative demonstrators, who simply testify that our heavy artillery is no more righteous than Iraq's elusive chemical weapons stockpile. You have dismissed the promise of the information age - that communication technology can facilitate cultural transfer across national borders, allowing for peaceful resolution of global conflicts. And this case is a no-brainer. The world is crying for a shred of evidence to support the allied allegations, which all of our vast intelligence operations have failed to produce. So in response to your editorial, I for one don't think that Bush knows best, nor any other fundamentalist kook who tries to cheat his way into a leading role in the Armageddon.
Political performance art
Robert Meyerowitz used his column in last week's Press (Circus, circus, March 13-19) to perpetuate the exact conversational superficiality about the war that he purports to abhor. Instead of using slogans on signs and certain off-limits words, like hegemony, Meyerowitz relied on a dismissive treatment of anti-war protestors. In doing so he also blatantly ignores the larger issue of corporate media control that makes public protest so necessary.
When Meyerowitz criticizes protestors for providing less-than comprehensive explanations on their signs, he misses entirely the point of protest and direct action. Protests are venues in which dissenters who have little access to media can state their views in the public eye. Protest culture functions both as a community for people with a marginalized viewpoint and as a kind of political performance art in which larger questions are elicited, not answered. Although I have frequently worried that certain nuances will be overridden by a slogan, I have come to recognize the courage it takes to put forth a complex belief in simple terms. Engaged protest is one of a democracy's most powerful tools for broadening the terms of public dialogue.
Furthermore, I doubt Meyerowitz has unlimited access to the lunchrooms, kitchens, carpools and meetings in which the ideas behind the peace movement are being passionately felt and debated. Most activists think and feel deeply about the very issues he raises (i.e., U.S. sanctions&Mac226; c cause of Iraqi suffering,) and often wish we had a column like the one Meyerowitz uses in such a mean-spirited manner. His lampooning of the women in Homer was particularly inexcusable. No matter how simplistic their slogans may seem to Meyerowitz, it strikes me as a far greater act of discipline and sacrifice to stand out in the cold saying something you know to be unpopular but believe to be true, than to write dismissively about someone else's passion.
If Meyerowitz really desires an intelligent discussion of the risks and benefits of the course the Bush administration is pursuing, he has done a great disservice to any of the people he hopes to engage. By making assumptions about those he disagrees with instead of engaging them as fellow citizens with something to say and the right to say it, Meyerowitz seems arrogant and small. In contrast, the Anchorage Daily News ran a great feature story last Sunday on some of the people behind the peace movement in Alaska. That coverage gave thoughtful activists a chance to expand on their signs. It's deplorable that the independent paper in town could not extend them the same courtesy.
Your recent editorial rant titled Circus, Circus (March 13-19) is an embarrassment to the field of journalism. I have worked as a journalist for magazines, newspapers and e-zines for over ten years and have never encountered such irresponsible editorial abuse.
As a contributing writer for the Boulder Weekly, I saw the impact that a smart paper can have on a community. The Boulder Weekly doesn't attack its activists or make fun of people who are trying to make a difference. It encourages involvement of any kind. It inspires debate. It has a kick-ass, witty, well-read editor who knows how to run a paper.
Anchorage's Press is a joke. There are thousands of weekly papers throughout this country that are challenging the minds of their readers; but the Press is not one of them.
Make no mistake, I do not read the Press. I am insulted by its unintelligent cover stories and lack of investigative reporting. A friend suggested that I read your column because it proves my point: The Press sucks.
Shame on you for making fun of people who are voicing their opinions. Maybe you should put down the pen and pick up a weekly from Boulder or Wichita. You might learn something.