THURSDAY’S LETTERS: ‘Fire the Wire’ Columnist, Clinton/Obama, Galloway and the Military Hospitals Scandal

By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, Mark Phillips responds to a letter from Cox president and AP board member Jay Smith about his recent column, readers react to Joe Galloway’s column about the Walter Reed Medical Center scandal, and some thoughts on the “politics of personal destruction.”


‘Fire the Wire’ Writer Fires Back at AP Board Member

I can picture the focus group now: A room full of newspaper readers, both online and print and a mix of both, spread out among all demographics.

A consultant asks the question: “Who here wants to read day-old, warmed-over wire copy in their paper tomorrow morning? You remember. It’s that stuff you read today on Yahoo! Come on, raise your hands!”

I’m guessing the answer will be a resounding no. And that’s the point of my column, “Fire the Wire — Hire More Locally.” Newspaper readers don’t need or want old stories that they’ve already read online, heard on the radio, and seen on cable news.

If you ask Jay Smith, president of Cox Newspapers and a member of the Associated Press Board of Directors, he’ll tell you this: “Readers need and want to know what happened in Iraq yesterday.”

No, Mr. Smith, they don’t. They don’t want to know what happened in Iraq or anywhere else a day ago. They want to know now. This is why cable TV news and the Internet have flourished. This is why news alerts are sent to millions of cell phone users daily. To steal a line from Gordon Gecko in “Wall Street”: “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.” And old information just doesn’t cut it anymore.

That letter you wrote to E&P was probably posted within 15 minutes of being received. It was instantaneously published for all to see worldwide. It didn’t have to wait 12 hours for a newsroom to process it, for a plate to be made, for the press to run off thousands of copies, and for it to be delivered to a store where I could buy it. It’s here now. Just as newspapers are going through a painful process of reinvention, so must the wire services.

Newspapers must innovate. If innovation means bolstering local newspaper coverage by hiring reporters and at the same time, eliminating wire stories from the paper, I say do it. What are we afraid of?

There will be some who will go kicking and screaming as they?re being led into the future to see the modern newspaper (or whatever we?ll call it.) They can kick and scream all they want. But they must evolve and roll with the punches or they’ll get left in the past. Just like that day-old wire story.

Mark A. Phillips

Mark Phillips, in calling on editors to fire AP, certainly gets it more right than Jay Smith’s self-serving “knee-jerk” reaction defending the wire service.

Local news from local reporters is why people buy local papers, and yet it is the first area to be cut. Simply run another picture of Britney or Anna Nicole, and raise your advertising rates.

I thank Mark Phillips for having the courage to call for the blooming obvious, and I can only hope our local editors are listening.

Jerry Kleiner
Middletown, N.Y.


Galloway and the Walter Reed Hospitals Scandal

Push [Joe Galloway’s] article to the major media.

As a Retired Army Officer I have repeatedly witnessed this sort of shabby treatment of our soldiers only to listen to Commanders (General Officers normally) say with conviction “take care of your troops,” and they haven’t a clue what that means or what actions need to be taken to care for the troops and their families.

Money is not the issue — you don’t buy patriotism. Today’s standards for soldier performance is at an all time low; work has become a 9 to 5 job with the exception of front line troops; the job is a means to a BMW not the actual work being done; educational standards are low — I have listened to Officers with “college degrees” who don’t know what subject-verb agreement means and can’t write a coherent sentence. I don’t know about the other services but the Army has truly let down the troops, along with our politicians.

The retiree was once promised lifetime medical, dental and vision coverage for he and his family for life (kids until finished college or on their own) – that’s gone. Now we have Tricare which is lacking at best. Retired pay – we get our cost of living increase 3 months after the fiscal year. So we get a nine month increase — not 12. Another cost saving measure on the backs of military personnel. This sort of treatment goes on and on in any number of areas. What we need is a requirement for politicians — if you never served in the military, you cannot be a U.S. Congressman or President (Clinton, the draft dodger, being a great reason to support this amendment).

Thanks for the article and the voice in the dark highlighting the “rest of the story.”

Doug Marr

Brava! It is high time that the people who rubber-stamped the budgets, and who wrapped themselves in the blood soaked bandages of our troops be called out and called to account.

My father was a veteran of WWII. From Pearl Harbour to Okinawa. And he had been a Republican for over 40 years. His opinion of the Iraq War, and the people executing it? “It stinks, and the stink goes right up to the President.”

It is time to hold the rubber stamp false patriot Republicans accountable. No quarter or political mercy should be shown.

Keep up the fine work!

Silas Macgregor


On the Obama/Clinton Blow-Up

“While Democrats should engage in a vigorous debate on the issues, there is no place in our party or our politics for the kind of personal insults made by Senator Obama’s principal fundraiser.” — Howard Wolfson.

Wasn’t it Team Clinton in the 1990’s that developed the “politics of personal destruction” and the bimbo eruption squad who’s sole duty was to personally destroy the reputations of certain women? There are just too many of us out here that remember these things.

M. Austin
Woodstock, Ga.

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