FRIDAY’S LETTERS: Carl Bernstein, Jennifer Parcell, Bloggers’ Importance to the Future of Journalism

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By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, readers react to Carl Bernstein’s comparisons between Presidents Bush and Nixon, a grandmother remembers slain soldier Jennifer Parcell, and praise for a New Mexico radio station that will no longer run stories that rely on anonymous sources.

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Bloggers Not So Important?

The lede on this story is very misleading, because in all polls like this context matters. I doubt very much that “most” Americans — that is, a majority of the adult population of the US — thinks blogging and citizen journalism will be vital to the future of the business.

Why? Because most people I know, all literate and many of them Web surfers, don’t read blogs and certainly don’t have any idea of what citizen journalism is. What they do read online comes mostly from the mainstream press sites such as the BBC, the New York Times or The Guardian. very little comes direct from bloggers.

When they do go to other sites it’s mostly for specific information such as for music or hobbies.

And almost none of them know anything about RSS and other ways to aggregate information from many different sites, so it’s unlikely that they would spend the time to individually surf the sites of individual blogs. They are all adults with busy lives.

My questions of the WeMedia/Zogby organizations would be:

— Of the sample of 5,384 adults, what are the demographics? Are they middle class only, high wage earners, do they all live in areas where broadband is easily available?

— What ages are they? What was the breakdown of answers from various age ranges?

— How were the questions phrased? Was it assumed, for example, that everyone knew what blogs and citizen journalists are, or were they given some description, and if so what was that description?

— What was the percentage of people surveyed who said “don’t know” to any of the questions? If this is a random sampling, I would astonished to find that even a majority knew what blogs or citizen journalism is, let alone have an idea of what their impact on journalism would be.

There is a hype and hysteria abroad today that these new forms of expression are overwhelming “old” journalism and we journalists, unfortunately, are the biggest suckers for it.

Brian Robinson
Portland, Ore.

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Bernstein, Bush, and Nixon

Carl Bernstein is right as rain in his observations about weaseling in the White House [More from ‘Frontline’ Interviews: Carl Bernstein on Nixon vs. Bush].

This charade in Iraq has been transparent to anyone with half a brain since the first aluminum tube washed ashore and Colin Powell cleared out his desk.

Although The Washington Post, for one, did publish a story by Joby Warrick on September 19, 2002 that challenged the tube theory, the mainstream media (and Congress) generally appear to have been royally tubed themselves. And, while current events reveal egregious executive deception, alas, President Bush actually may be less a liar than he is the dummy for the ventriloquist(s) down the hall.

Richard Neubert
Falls Church, VA



Carl Bernstein, as usual, makes a good, thoughtful read. …

While I agree that Bush is much more, let’s say, mafia-like in his sense of secrecy — which has never really worked in a democracy — the one thing neither [Woodward nor Bernstein have] been willing to explain to the public is what Nixon meant when, in the tapes, he used the phrase, “the Bay of Pigs thing.” It’s almost as though there is something in that phrase that both of these highly rated journalists are afraid of. …

One of the Nixon insiders from … the late 1950s and very early 1960s in the CIA recently died, just a few days after E. Howard Hunt announced that his new book about his “Secret Life In The CIA” — that now blames Lyndon Johnson as the top man in the plot that killed President Kennedy — which is due out in March or April of this year. So perhaps it is now safe for those “brave” investigative jounalists, Bernstein and Woodward, to go the rest of the way with the Nixon truth that they started a long time ago.

R. Dahlke

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Remembering Jennifer Parcell

I so appreciated your story on Jennifer Parcell. I too was saddened when I watched the news on TV hoping to see something concerning this extrordinary young woman. i found very little with all the hype on Anna Nicole Smith. I don’t know that much about Ms. Smith, but I do know that I have known Jen all her life. …

Joe, her beloved brother, is married to my granddaughter, Sarah. Both Joe and Jen followed the proud tradition of the Marine Corps. Sarah, as a military wife, should also be praised, because spouses sacrifice a lot and get very little attention. …

Jennifer did more to make this world a better place in her short 20 years than most of us will in a lifetime. She loved her God, her church, her family, the Marine Corps and her friends. She was so proud to be serving her country.

Two young women who began life with such potential. [Anna Nicole Smith] squandered hers [while Jennifer Parcell] became a hero. …

Louise Wampler
(Whose Granddaughter

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No More Anonymous Sources

My son who lives in Shiprock sent me the article about the Sante Fe [radio] station not repeating any story that does not name sources. Thank you for doing that. I do hope it catches on nationwide.

Susan MacBride

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