FRIDAY’S LETTERS: Low Journalism Salaries Cause Brain Drain, Mitchell and Lebanon, Coulter Numbers False?

By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, a journalism professor challenges newspaper executives to pay young reporters more, praise for Greg Mitchell’s columns on Lebanon and U.S. arms dealing, and questions about the numbers in E&P’s Ann Coulter coverage.


Mitchell’s Lebanon Pieces Praised

I have been following [Greg Mitchell’s] writings about the U.S. media’s coverage of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and the attempts that commentators have made at establishing equivalence. Frankly, it does not surprise here in India at all. While we do not know the nuances of the Middle East situation as seen by the U.S. media, many, if not most Indians think that the U.S. media (taking a cue from the administration, perhaps) is softer on Pakistan, a military dictatorship, than on India, a democracy.

Anyway, your pieces have been very enlightening (and, I suspect, brave too.) They have helped me better understand the situation in the Middle East and also shown how I must “read” American papers.

Sidharth Bhatia
Editor, Editorial Page

I just stumbled upon [Greg Mitchell’s] column after following a link on Nicholas Kristof’s most recent column in the NY Times.

I agree with the thrust of [his] piece, but it is my understanding that Israel actually buys some of the munitions it gets from the U.S., and that not all of the armaments being used by Israel in the current conflict were paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

I agree the U.S. has great leverage over Israel in the current situation, it isn’t that the public doesn’t understand that, it’s that our cowboy president and his minions think that the best way to shape the world to conform to our view is with the use of the sword, and that Israel’s action will lead to greater peace. History indicates we should expect otherwise.

John V. Kjellman
Henniker, N.H.

Thank you [Greg Mitchell] for the article [about the U.S.’ role as a weapons supplier]. Some legislation on arms transfers forbids their use on civilians. Of course our congress appears to be united in their support for virtually any Israeli action. The targeting of ambulances which used to be regarded as despicable passes with no notice. [Howard] Dean, who is a doctor, has called criticism of the new Iraqi prime minister of Israel’s civilian killings unacceptable — even antiSemitism. The blank check to Israel has enabled them to commit in our name what would be open war crimes committed by others.

The U.S. media has long done a terrible job in covering the Middle East. Few Americans seem to see Arabs or Muslims as people with hopes and dreams much like themselves. They are constantly demonized as terrorists and a look at the pictures used show how the Times at least picks the least emotionally striking photos of Arabs. Often they just show coffins or bodies at a distance. Contrast that with the way Israelis are shown.

What is terrible here is that Bush and his supporters of both parties may be for a much larger war that will destroy the war as we know it. If that happens the one-sided news media will be partially responsible for the disaster.

Dorothy Hoobler
New York

If my memory is correct, the only problem with the USA applying pressure on Israel is that Israel is supplying our bullets for Iraq. Our manufacturing base here is in the US is such a shell of its past strength that we can’t keep up with demand.

Thanks for the info. You are right, this isn’t showing up anywhere in the MSM.

Alan Cossitt


Pay Journalists a Livable Wage

There will continue to be a brain-drain of the best and the brightest from newspaper jobs until owners decide to pay a livable wage to young journalists. My best graduate last year took a job at a small Gannett paper. She loved being a reporter and was told by her editor that she had a great future with Gannett, but even in a small town she could barely make it on her meager salary. So she took a $6,000 raise to become a teacher.

There’s a common complaint from young journalists that they see no future in a profession where they are making about $25,000 with a promise of only a minimal increase after a year.

I challenge millionaire owners or corporate execs to consider how they could survive on what they are paying their journalists. Unless starting wages are significantly increased fewer promising people will join the profession and those who do will not stay.

Mary Hausch
Assistant Professor, Greenspun School of Journalism
University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Coulter’s Numbers Lie?

A couple of your readers July 26 expressed exactly what I’ve been thinking about your obsessive quest to encourage editors to silence Ann Coulter. But they missed an interesting point from one of your staff-written articles on the topic that truly amused me: “? letters and website poll ‘show that our readers approve cutting her column at a ratio of two to one. And numbers don’t lie …'”

Well, numbers do lie, and that bold statement may be a perfect example of how to do it. By a ratio of two to one, people who cared enough to write in or click on a poll are in favor of canning the Coulter column. What about all those readers who don’t have time to write or click? What are the raw numbers? Was it 20 in favor and 10 opposed, 200,000 in favor and 100,000 opposed, or some other combination of numbers to generate the 2:1 ratio? Expressing the raw numbers in some relationship to the newspaper’s circulation might be revealing, either for or against the newspaper’s decision. But throwing that ratio out there and expecting readers to blindly accept it as supporting the newspaper’s position seems a bit arrogant.

Will Daniel

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