Archive for ‘Washington Post’

May 9, 2009

Who killed Kwanzaa Diggs?

  • In June 2008, Washington, D.C., Judge Zoe Bush committed Kwanzaa Diggs to juvenile detention after Diggs was convicted of robbery.
  • By April 24, 2009, Diggs was back on the streets. Specifically, he was in the 900 block of Barnaby Street, SE. He had been shot multiple times, and two other teenage victims were also shot.
  • Kwanzaa Diggs died at age 17.

Colbert I. King has an excellent column today in The Washington Post about the Diggs shooting, part of a series of columns King has done about the failures of the D.C. juvenile justice system.

This is not only a failure of the D.C. city government, but also a failure of the media to ask the kinds of questions, and tell the kinds of stories, that King is asking and telling.

The shooting death of Kwanzaa Diggs merited a mere two sentences in a Washington Post crime round-up column. Meanwhile, the Washington Post devoted front-page treatment to the colonoscopy of a panda at the Washington Zoo.

Dear God, what has happened to journalism in America? Is it any wonder that people hate “the media” so much? Here you’ve got the case of a 17-year-old shot dead, two others wounded, a crime that indicates a systemic failure of local government, and the local paper is too busy covering pandas at the zoo?

John Kerry can’t fix this problem. Some editors need to be fired, and some reporters need to be reminded that their job is to cover the freaking news. When somebody gets shot to death, that’s news.

Am I the only journalist on the planet who’s ever seen Teacher’s Pet? Clark Gable plays a tough, cynical newspaper editor, and Doris Day plays a journalism professor. The Gable character disdains the professor’s lofty pretensions about the “civic duty” of a newspaper. The turning point of the story is where Gable takes a stabbing death and turns it into a really great human-interest story.

Murder is news. Rape, robbery and drug busts are also news. And guess what? Crime coverage, if done right, sells papers. If the Washington Post can’t be bothered to cover a shooting that leaves one teenager dead and two others wounded, what the hell is the point of publishing a newspaper?

Good cops-and-courts reporting used to be a staple of American journalism. Was such coverage sometimes lurid and sensationalist? Sure. But it sells newspapers. The problem is that too many people in our newsrooms for the past several decades have failed to understand that they’re in a business, the object of which is to sell the product and make a profit.

The pretentious Doris Day professor types have triumphed over the cynical Clark Gable types. We’ve got plenty of pundits to lecture us about “fine-grained local coverage,” but good luck getting a Harvard magna cum laude to go out and cover the freaking news.

The newspaper industry is dying, and Kwanzaa Diggs is still dead.

UPDATE: The Associated Press can’t be bothered with Kwanzaa Diggs and the collapse of the juvenile justice system in our nation’s capital. But the five-year anniversary of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts? 2,700 words!

UPDATE II: Moe Lane at Red State:

Honestly, I think that everybody involved would be happier if we just established once and for all that the Watergate scandal was a disaster for the newspaper industry; it encouraged an entire generation of reporters to go out there and try to change American society, instead of simply documenting it.

Nail on the head, Moe. All The President’s Men solidified this idea of journalism that “makes a difference” in the heads of a generation of journalists. It not only encouraged a lot of what is called “Pulitzer bait” — the five-part series — but it generally attracted to the business a lot of liberal do-gooders who thought of themselves as superior to their readers.

Last year, there was a certain news story that caused Ace of Spades to erupt in fury: “Stop telling me what to think!” (I wish I could find that post, because it was good.) Nobody wants to do the straight-ahead Joe Friday “just-the-facts-ma’am” news story, because there is no prestige in that kind of basic reporting.

It is no surprise, really, that the great scandals of American journalism — Stephen Glass in 1998 and Jayson Blair in 2003 — occurred about 30 years after Watergate, by which time the starry-eyed liberal do-gooders who entered the business in the 1970s had become editors and journalism professors.

UPDATE II: Welcome, Ed Driscoll readers!

March 17, 2009

‘The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks’

by Smitty

Billy Wharton served a jolly steamer disclaimer in the Sunday Washington Post. He spends a few paragraphs being amazed at having wandered in obscurity these years, only to be a celebrity once the question was raised during the campaign last year: Is BHO a, you know, [whisper]Socialist? He then attempts to proffer objections to the label being applied to the POTUS:

The funny thing is, of course, that socialists know that Barack Obama is not one of us. Not only is he not a socialist, he may in fact not even be a liberal. Socialists understand him more as a hedge-fund Democrat — one of a generation of neoliberal politicians firmly committed to free-market policies.

OK, I can buy “meat puppet of the plutocrats”.

The first clear indication that Obama is not, in fact, a socialist, is the way his administration is avoiding structural changes to the financial system. Nationalization is simply not in the playbook of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his team. They favor costly, temporary measures that can easily be dismantled should the economy stabilize. Socialists support nationalization and see it as a means of creating a banking system that acts like a highly regulated public utility. The banks would then cease to be sinkholes for public funds or financial versions of casinos and would become essential to reenergizing productive sectors of the economy.

So, you’d support more authority for the likes of Franks and Dodd? What could possibly go wrong?

The same holds true for health care. A national health insurance system as embodied in the single-payer health plan reintroduced in legislation this year by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), makes perfect sense to us. That bill would provide comprehensive coverage, offer a full range of choice of doctors and services and eliminate the primary cause of personal bankruptcy — health-care bills. Obama’s plan would do the opposite. By mandating that every person be insured, ObamaCare would give private health insurance companies license to systematically underinsure policyholders while cashing in on the moral currency of universal coverage. If Obama is a socialist, then on health care, he’s doing a fairly good job of concealing it.

Yeah, because the Romney plan was such a big win for Mass., right? Your national health insurance system promises to be as smashing a success as Fannie and Freddie. If only it focused on smashing your utopian visions, sir.

Issues of war and peace further weaken the commander in chief’s socialist credentials. Obama announced that all U.S. combat brigades will be removed from Iraq by August 2010, but he still intends to leave as many as 50,000 troops in Iraq and wishes to expand the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A socialist foreign policy would call for the immediate removal of all troops. It would seek to follow the proposal made recently by an Afghan parliamentarian, which called for the United States to send 30,000 scholars or engineers instead of more fighting forces.

So you seem to imply that socialism has pacifistic overtones by definition. When did that change from the last century? National Socialist Workers Party, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics…

So, other than saying that BHO doesn’t agree with you, Mr. Wharton, you don’t say much. In fairness, this was a brief newspaper treatment where you’re simply trying to establish a gap between some convenient definition of Socialism and the POTUS. I get that. You just keep those little pom-poms protesting vigorously, Lady.

February 5, 2009

The Doomsayer-in-Chief

Barack Obama, bidding fair to become the 21st century’s Jimmy Carter, lays a heavy downer on us via the the Washington Post op-ed page:

By now, it’s clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression.

(Via Memeorandum.) Read the rest of it if you want, but the key word is “inherited”: Blame Republicans First!

Amazing that our new president can find time in his busy schedule to pen a 767-word op-ed column. What further wonders can we expect from the creator of the Department of Unicorns and Rainbows?

UPDATE: “So much for ‘rejecting the politics of fear’ “

UPDATE II: Michael Goldfarb on “The Audacity of Panic.”