Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"Good" Journalism

Dick van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore buy a painting somewhere, church sale, a bazzar, flea market...signed Artanis. Then Dick sees something peculiar, not noticed at first, maybe another painting beneath. A bit of scratching and scraping later, there is an eye peering out at him. The scene shifts-flip-slip! We see them from the behind, only their backs looking at the canvas. They back up, slowly. The camera moves closer, slowly. Grant Wood's painting American Gothic appears...except the two characters are real characters-more animated, lively, wearing friendly very non-serious Iowa Methodist large toothy smiles.

In another part of New York,Michelle Malkin points us to this. The New York Times has printed !... a memo. Editor & Publisher review the opening:

Keller Says 'N.Y. Times' Must Look Beyond Its Urban, Liberal Base

NEW YORK In a lengthy memo published on the newspaper's Web site, Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, announced several new policies in response to a recent report by the paper's Credibility Committee. Among them is a fresh attempt to diversify the Times' staff and viewpoints, and not in the usual racial or gender ways, but in political, religious and cultural areas as well.

Hmm, a "...fresh attempt to diversify." Scrape, scrape.

The aim, he wrote, is "to stretch beyond our predominantly urban, culturally liberal orientation, to cover the full range of our national conversation."

" Hand me the laquer thinner. And the xylol. Is that an eye?"

The point, Keller wrote, "is not that we should begin recruiting reporters and editors for their political outlook; it is part of our professional code that we keep our political views out of the paper. The point is that we want a range of experience. We have a recruiting committee that tracks promising outside candidates, and that committee has already begun to consider ways to enrich the variety of backgrounds of our reporters and editors.

Splash, splosh! "I think there's another picture here! "

"First and foremost we hire the best reporters, editors, photographers and artists in the business. But we will make an extra effort to focus on diversity of religious upbringing and military experience, of region and class.

Health warning! Exposure to fumes can cause dizziness, disorientation, headach and delusion. Judgement may be impaired. Do not operate machinery or motor vehicles. Use only in well ventilated spaces.

He also said that he endorsed the internal committee’s recommendation "that we cover religion more extensively.... This is important to us not because we want to appease believers or pander to conservatives, but because good journalism entails understanding more than just the neighborhood you grew up in."

Long term exposure can have serious health consequences.

(Breaking the metaphor the writer intrudes.) Well at long last, they are going to produce good journalism. And they've announced what it is: "...understanding more that just the neighborhood you grew up in." They will never understand the neighborhood I grew up in. I don't understand the neighborhood I grew up in. And now they will cover religion? Unless they are willing to risk getting some, they won't uncover any of it, nor discover any. And now they know what good journalism is? What changed? Was last months' journalism not so good? Where did this new, true picture of themselves emerge from?"

An appraiser is summoned. The stereotyped television-writer's art critic: balding with bi-focals, wrinkled gray-brown three piece suit, goateed ,thin black tie, tennis shoes appraises at nose length the brushwork, character, expression, colors, and styles. Accomplished with verve and sweep. He steps away from the canvas, arms wrapped onto hips and shoulders.

"This is a Good Painting."

Dick and Mary cheer!

"No,no, no. A Good painting. Good, the imitator of Wood. It's worth maybe $75. It's too bad you ruined the other one. Artanis is a psuedonym, his realname written backwards."

"Good journalism entails understanding more than just the neighborhood you grew up in." Amateurs on the surface, parodies beneath. Still breathing the same fumes. Diversify? They need to get out more. And for God sakes, put those caps back on. And turn on the fans.

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