MONDAY’S LETTERS: Discussing A-Bomb Footage, Blogs and an ASJA Response

By: E&P Staff

Several readers wrote to express their divergent opinions on Greg Miller’s recent series of articles on the 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb. The comments prove that even after six decades have passed, war wounds never heal completely. Here’s a sampling, plus reactions to the Will Blogs Go Bust? column and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors responds to this E&P story.

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You dared to call the use of atomic bombs a “catastrophe.” You are wrong. The true catastrophe would have been a land invasion of Japan. The war would have raged for years longer. We would have had an estimated additional 400,000 casualties. The Japanese would have fought fanatically (remember the Kamikazes), and losses would have been in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

They believed our troops to be demons, cannibals, and so-forth. This fanatical fear resulted in footage — which I have seen — of Okinawan women leaping from cliffs with their children, even as GIs pleaded for them to stop. It was the Japanese government who cultivated and spread this kind of fear. It was Japanese officers dining on POW organs.

If we had hit those shores, people like you would still be calling us butchers, and you’d whine that “if only there had been a way to stop it sooner”.

It’s the films and photos you don’t cry about that betray you.

Russ Dillard
Orlando, Fla.

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I can’t believe that the public is not able to see most of the footage (color or black/white). Our country is so hypocritical. When I was in high school in the ’60s, we had to take a course that studied the Nuremberg trials. The films they showed of the corpses and the gas ovens, etc. was sickening, but showed what people can do to other people in the time of war. Now the shoe is on the other foot and we don’t want to show what we did to the Japanese people. This was the sign of the times, but it is needed to show people (in the whole world) so that hopefully it won’t be repeated by any society. We show the Holocaust many times a year so people won’t forget and have tours of the prison camps, why not the atrocities that we did?

Kathy Scott
Franklin, Tenn.

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We find this poll concerning the Nagasaki/Hiroshima bombings most interesting. We here in America claim to be so religious, which in fact we are, but Christian we are not. We cannot find anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus condones violence, let alone murder. We are sure if you asked the same group if they were Christians they would answer in majority that they in fact are. We have a man as President who claim’s to be a Christian yet murders many of God’s children daily. We here in the U.S.A. have learned nothing from our past un-Christian behavior — in fact, we flaunt it. All one has to do is claim to be a Christian and one is. Lying is acceptable behavior both from our leader’s in government to the church. To claim to support murder on the scale of the atomic bombs that the U.S.A. dropped is obviously un-American as well as against Christ.

Steve Miller

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The most important TV news pictures in at least half a century and TV couldn’t run them because the government has essentially hidden them for 60 years. Talk about censorship. This dwarfs anything the Nixons or the Bushes have ever done.

And what will the TV news business do about all this now? Will they run a few of the pictures next week on the 60th anniversary of VJ-Day? Or will they not bother, and not even mention VJ-Day? They usually don’t mention that anniversary, or VE-Day either. Only D-Day is of any interest to them, and then not much.

The British historian John Keegan says that WWII is “the largest single event in human history.” and whether or not that’s true, it’s certainly, from an American point of view, the most important event of the 20th century. But will TV do anything about these pictures and your story? Stay tuned.

Regardless, thank you so much for it. You have done the public and the news business a service.

Sandy Goodman
Rockville, Md.

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Re: Writers Group Won’t Give Judith Miller ‘Conscience in Media’ Award After All

Since Editor & Publisher describes itself as “the authoritative journal covering all aspects of the North American newspaper industry,” I find it deplorable that your coverage of the American Society of Journalists and Author’s (ASJA) deliberations over an award to Judith Miller (“Writers Group Won’t Give Judith Miller ‘Conscience in Media” Award After All,” August 3 and “Journalism Group in Dispute Over Giving Award To Judith Miller,” July 19) was so one-sided.

Your reporters made no effort to contact any of the five members of the ASJA’s First Amendment Committee who voted in favor of giving Miller the award, even though you were given contact information for at least one of these in the 5-4 majority. Instead, the articles you ran about this issue chose to spotlight the opinion of one member of the minority on the committee.

As First Amendment Committee Chair Claire Safran said during the committee’s discussions, “This award is not a career achievement award. It is limited to [Miller’s] brave action in going to jail rather than break her promise to a source. It is not a popularity contest for Judith Miller; it is a majority of the First Amendment Committee voting to support a journalist who has stood up for the principle that we as journalists honor our word — not for the sake of our sources, however noble or ignoble they may be; and not for the sake of other journalists either; but for the sake of our readers and their need to be as fully informed as possible.”
The enunciation of this principle was absent from E&P’s reporting on this issue.

Sally Wendkos Olds
Member, First Amendment Committee
American Society of Journalists and Authors

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Re: Will Blogs Go Bust?

Prof. Perlmutter basically has it right. But, I do not believe blogs will go “bust”. Perlmutter’s apparent antipathy for institutionalized blogging (as distinct from the idea behind personal journals) seems to stem not so much from questions about editorial integrity, but rather from a problem of structural taxonomy and organization.

In other words, aggregations of thematically inconsistent Web logs that have questionable editorial utility make it difficult to separate chaff from wheat. Thus, online journals from persons who actually have something to say about this or that are often difficult if not impossible to identify inside the conventional Web logging directories that apparently do not account for, or rank, in any qualitative sense, the subject matter or indeed the subtexts behind the blogs.

Puff pieces, ramblings, plagiarism, racism, invective, and downright libel that get posted in Web logs do not have the moderating influences of peer review by editors, independent fact-checkers or academic colleagues. Technology makes it feasible for anyone, anywhere to publish to a global audience anything they wish independently from access to capital and the means of production that have characterized all mass media hitherto.

Like the Web itself, however, taxonomy or the organizing of information around subject matter (or domains) as well as peer review would handily address Prof. Perlmutter’s objections. Also, there are a few people, most of them with backgrounds in print, who are trying to apply conventional organizing principles and sound editorial judgment to Web logs by creating Web sites that attempt to confer legitimacy around aggregations of blogs that have different sources but similar content, and thus attract advertising.

What are therefore required to bring a doable institutional framework to the practice of online journalism (which is not going to go away) are taxonomic and editorial standards that are, perhaps, not all that different from press councils. Taxonomy on the public Internet will require a dedicated name space such as, for example, a dot this or that where domain registration in the name space requires a commitment to editorial standards and common sense. Nothing in this contradicts the First Amendment.

Even the dot xxx (.xxx) name space [used for pornography sites] now has its own place on the Web. I recommend that journalists and journalism consider the use of information “pods,” which are product, service, and subject-specific name spaces that have already been set aside on the Web for exactly that purpose: reliable content. As with podcasting (which will soon encompass video via broadband as well as narrowband audio with iPods) there are hundreds of these unused dot-com pods, which are dedicated master channels, awaiting content. Any news organization right down to small community papers or even independent newsletters and community organizations can profitably use this available network with hundreds of stand-alone dot-com “pods” to propagate their legitimate editorial content to the world. In other words, the organization and Internet infrastructure are already there. All the news tellers have to do is organize themselves and get to work.

Derick Harris
Volcano, Hawaii

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