WEDNESDAY’S LETTERS: AG Firings Stories Without Context?, ‘Faggot’ Letter-Writer, Outing and the Future

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By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, a reader takes issue with coverage of firings by Attorney General Alberto Gonzoles, another thinks Steve Outing neglects some details in his view of the future of news consumption.

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Stories of Gonzoles Firings Without Context

Historians will decide where Alberto R. Gonzales ranks among America’s Attorney Generals. However, I am dismayed at the absence of historical context in the current coverage regarding his recent firings of eight U.S. Attorneys. The firings of U.S. Attorneys is hardly a new development, nor is the role of politics in such actions. One recent example came in 1993 when just-inaugurated President Clinton asked for the resignations of all 94 U.S. Attorneys in what amounted to a politically driven clearing of appointees from the previous 12 years of Republican adminstrations. He received resignations from 93. As we struggle to retain readers, context is a critical element is helping people gauge just how big of a deal a story is from a historical perspective.

Steve Fountain
Honesdale, Pa.

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More Appreciation for Steve Outing

Very much enjoyed Steve’s article on “Where News Consumption is Headed” but I think there is more to the story.

With the advent of television, there should have been the total demise of both radio and print journalism. It didn’t happen.

Radio has succeeded at attracting younger listeners and talk radio shows are booming.

The baby boomers, raised on television are the same 55 and over demographics you are citing as the readership for daily papers.

Consider for a moment that the media as we know it will change dramatically in the next ten years.

Look at the boom and popularity in handheld devices. Will people tire of reading the news on their computer screens and laptops … I think so.

The 3M Corporation is working on development of a portable device … much like a magazine … with a liquid crystal display. It could be rolled up and stuck in your back pocket. Your favorite news could be downloaded to the device every day.

Doesn’t this seem similar to carrying your favorite magazine or paper to the local coffee shop? Look at how many papers are being read in Starbucks … and how many copies they are selling of the New York Times. Are those only being sold to the 55 and over crowd?

To look at 20 year olds in their prime of life is not characteristic of their news habits for the future. During my 20’s I don’t recall most of my peers sitting down to read the daily paper … and we are now those 50 and older newspaper subscribers.

Twenty year olds are obsessed with living and gadgets and will normally turn to the news as they develop career paths and families nearing their 30’s.

We are also beset with a barrage of new media outlets all vying for our attention. There may not be a clear winner and it’s getting harder to draw the line between news and entertainment.

But consider how after September 11 and people were glued to their radios and televisions and yes, newspapers.

The tide can turn dramatically depending on world events.

Trying to accurately predict the future of print journalism is like predicting the stock market.

Let’s not forget that with no less than 24 papers at the turn into the 20th century, William Randolph Hearst was able to pull enormous attention to his publication with albeit “yellow journalism”.

The smaller regional and community papers are thriving and multiplying. How can that be if people are totally absorbed in their handheld electronic devices? Magazines are also proliferating like gnats and ad revenues are rolling in as well. How can they be competing with the allure of online web news and entertainment.

Maybe just maybe we need to pull back and look at what we are doing as journalists.

You suggested that papers need to stop laying off reporters. You suggested that deadlines need to be held. You suggested that papers stop thinking they are single source organizations.

So while your teenage daughter is enthralled in text messaging on her cell phone…how long before that seems as “current” as those of us enthralled with “pong” on our TV screens in the 80’s. What if your daughter could have her news delivered with all the richness of photos and striking layouts that we are seeing in printed dailies instead of lines of text?

Coleen Mackin
San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.

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Offending the Offender

Richard Schur writes in his letter published March 13, 2007, that he doesn’t find the word “faggot” offensive. Though he doesn’t know anyone offended by the term “except you and your liberal rag, he theorizes it might be offensive to “faggots.” If being a “faggot” makes the term “faggot” offensive, then perhaps only “dumbasses” are offended by the term “dumbass.” Thus, I’m certain Mr. Schur would be offended by the term “dumbass.”

Bill Adkins
Williamstown, Ky.

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