TUESDAY’S LETTERS: ‘WSJ’ Redesign, Saddam’s Hanging Pictures, 3000 Soldiers Dead, Sam Cooke’s Nephew

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By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, readers weigh in on the Wall Street Journal’s redesign as well as the passing of the 3000 dead soldiers mark in Iraq, and Sam Cooke’s nephew on who the real ‘Godfather of Soul’ was.

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On the ‘Wall Street Journal’ Redesign

I read the story about The Wall Street Journal in your December issue with interest and chagrin. This new redesign of a paper that was redesigned just four years ago isn’t the first time The Journal has reduced its page size. We did it in the 70’s. I remember it well because I was was the M.E. at the time and Warren Phillips, who was the publisher, gave me hell about thestory we printed that said the page would shrink about two inches. Not twoinches, he pointed out strongly, just and inch and a half (or whatever it was; memory fails me). But the important difference between then and now is that neither the news nor the ad departments lost any space; our hole remained the same, with compensation for the narrower columns. This time news has lost 10 per cent of its space, which, along with the redesign, means the paper will be running only half as many of those great front-page stories upon which The Journal built its reputation.

That is distressing enough for an oldtiimer. But just as bad is Publisher Gordon Crovitz’s apparent disdain for some of his present readers. He commented that he was “girded for the letters of complaint written with quills on parchment.” These are his subscribers he is sneering at.

I don’t understand why Mr. Crovitz thinks it is necessary to diminish the strength of a great newspaper in order to build the web site.But that’s what he is doing.

Fred Taylor


The problem with the WSJ is the quality of their staff’s thinking and reporting. They write narrow commentary and seem to push the wall street message of “buy equities” regardless. I have had many in-depth e-mail exchanges with many of them over the years and I find them surprisingly biased, stubborn and parochial in their views.

As a 65 year old WSJ on-line reader, I have my 25 year old son refusing to read both the WSJ and Barron’s and going directly to Bloomberg for his financial and business news. He points out that there is little difference between WSJ, Barron’s, Dow Jones or CNBC …

Frank Pecarich

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Papers and the Pictures of Saddam’s Hanging

I read the article mentioning that the NYT was the only major paper to put Saddam’s picture [after he was dead] on the front page of the paper. Well, the Salt Lake Tribune had a picture, albeit a small one, about 2″ square on the front page. It was the one with Saddam standing while they were fixing the rope around his neck. This was underscored with the page number of three other articles about his “final hours” and that he was “America’s Villain.” This was all above the fold. Inside on page A14 was the picture of his body taken from a Biladi TV image.

I was shocked that the Tribune would stoop to such sensational photos when just last week we had to endure three days of detailed reporting (all covered on the front page) about Governor Huntsman and his wife’s adoption of a child from India. Oh well, go figure.

Jeri Peratis
Salt Lake City, Utah



So what? We (the entire world), had the video of the hanging within a couple hours posted to the internet, taken by an observer’s cell phone. We could see him drop through the trap door and see him swinging and listen to the men shouting.

This is why readership of newspapers is tanking and why the whole deal is going down the drain … you actually think anyone gives a crap if a dead dictator is on the front page? No. You actually still believe in some kind of 1958 “delicate sensibilities” routine? If I didn’t find it sad that you’re so hopelessly out of touch with the hoi polloi, I’d actually laugh.

L.Jacobson

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On the Iraq Death Count and Waning U.S. Support for the War

Maybe I could shed some light why so many are upset by the Iraq Death Count: maybe is has a lot to do with the reasons why we are in Iraq, and with no evidence of Iraq having no weapons of mass destruction, and Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 Attack on this country. Thus we were thrusted into a war who did not do us harm? We took the senseless initiative to bomb a country who did not assault us?

Sir, it does not have anything to do with winning. We are losing numbers of our sons, daughters, mother’s, father’s and sisters. 3,003 Families are without their loved ones for what? For what mission? For what job we have to finish? To completely damage and annihilate a country and its people who have completely lost their country. Upset? Yes, we are: we have lost our souls to this tyrannical U.S. administration we have in power who spewed nothing but lies. Needless death and countless numbers of death of both Americans and Iraqis for what “Freedom” and “Democracy?” We cannot thrust our ideals on someone else. We will all pay dearly for this debacle taking place in the Middle East.

A. Douglas
Hamilton, Bermuda



I think that the sacrifice of 3,000 American lives, the lives of 500 coalition allies and who-knows-how-many Iraqi lives calls up greater indignation today, simply because these lives have not be “sacrificed” — after all, sacrifice implies giving something in a noble cause. Gruesome murder for no reason is not sacrifice, it is simply murder.

William. P. Barber
Missouri City, Texas



The AP article about why Americans don’t support the war discounts the main reason: the two biggest justifications Bush gave for the war, WMDs and Iraq’s support for al-Qaeda, turned out to be lies. Having been exposed, he and Cheney then switched their reason to establishing democracy in Iraq. That was never reason enough for a war, and it was never the real reason we’re fighting one. There is no good reason for this war, besides which we’re losing it at every turn.

Sandy Goodman
Rockville, Md.



We keep close track of the dead soldiers, but not those with missing limbs or faces. Neither is the dollar cost realized. We can never repay this $8+ trillion in national debt, especiallly when you add it to future entitlement obligations. America, the country we knew and loved is finished. I would like to see either the obituary or a realistic recovery plan.

R.T. Carpenter
Lynn Haven, Fla.
(Viet Nam 62-68)

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The Difference Between a ‘Surge’ and an ‘Escalation’

Thanks for [editor Greg Mitchell’s] pointed and courageous article on the use by our press of the weasel-word, “surge,” instead of “escalation.” …

Thanks also for having the gumption to speak up repeatedly as you have done throughout the debacle of the Bush’s Administration’s near-8-year’s of misrule – and the acquiescence of so many of our institutions, including the print press and electronic media — in it.

Louis Massano
New Jersey



You nailed it, Greg. Your timely wordsmithing reminds me of George Lakoff’s advice: (paraphrasing) Beware this administration’s framing the issue to its advantage.

Journalists are supposed to be good at words. Yet the MSM constantly fall for Karen Hughes-type constructions: “tax relief,” “war on terror,” “surge.”

Bush may be besieged. But if his quiver has one last arrow, I’m sure it will be his PR crew’s ability to shaft the people linguistically. It’s up to the newsgathering cadre to prevent it.

I wish more people could see your column.

Jerry Elsea
Opinion page editor (Ret.)
Cedar Rapids, Iowa



What we have is an occupation, not a war. Bush needs to be called on that. Referring to the occupation as a war, which all media does, only helps this inept administration, by providing an irrelative set of options, for Bushco to hide behind. How can you escalate an occupation??? You can’t.

Bob Pattalochi



Thanks for the fine, timely essay. I have another thought regarding the possible purpose of these new (where will they come from?) troops: The likely attack on Iran.

Carey Weeks

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He Sent Us: Sam Cooke’s Nephew on James Brown and the Origins of Soul

In an insane society, it’s so refresing to hear a sane voice! While I mourn the passing of a legend like James Brown, let’s not lose sight of historical facts in the process. While I don’t have a problem letting JB hold onto his title, I think it’s important Sam be recognized as “The Man Who Invented Soul,” especially since his 1957 release of “You Send Me” is considered the first soul record. “You Send Me” combined Sam’s gospel roots with R&B and Pop to create a totally new sound which captured white and black listeners alike. The song went #1 on both the R&B and Pop charts and remained on the charts for 26 weeks.

Besides being the nephew of Sam Cooke, I am the author of “Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family Perspective.”

Erik Greene

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Testifying Against Lt. Watada

Regarding [Sarah Olson’s] article in Editor & Publisher. It seems to me that a legitimate reporter would stand behind their spoken or written words in any venue required. If the Army has cobbled together pieces of your story then this can and should be pointed out by the defense.

Other than the obvious inconvenience, where is the harm if one testifies truthfully? Unless of course one has an anti-military bias — as I suspect is the case here. Also, to be accurate, you are not testifying against Lt. Watada. You are testifying to the accuracy of his remarks which were repeated in your article. Truth is not for or against anyone. It is simply the truth.

Reporters have for years tried to maintain that they are members of a “special class” and should not be bound by the laws of common folk. Sorry, but that is not the case. There is some justification for protecting sources in criminal corruption cases when retaliation is a possibility. Most accept this.

Tell the truth now. Did your story not have a political agenda? Was it not in fact propaganda in the guise of journalism?

If subpoenaed, do your duty as a citizen and quit trying to claim nebulous rights and privileges that do not exist.

Jack Fite
Manson, Wash.

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