New York Times: Don’t Abandon The Barricades of Serious Journalism!

By James A. Kidney [Ed note:  The New York Times plans to lay off hundreds of copy editors, a sign of financial pressure and a management strategy to beef up digital resources — they say.  The Times also eliminated its Public Editor — the person who entertained reader complaints about reporting and posted occasional columns assessing the Times reporting, sometimes critically.  In its place, the Times is offering up something called the Reader Center to receive comments on these changes.  You can send your comment to readercenter@nytimes.com.  Here is our comment (edited somewhat) sent to the executive editor through the Reader Center email site.] Dear Mr. Baquet, I am a nearly life-long subscriber to The Times (lately, the digital version), a former reporter (UPI, U.S. News) turned lawyer.  I  was married for 38 years to the late Sara Fritz, who I believe you knew from your LA Times days.  So … Read more of this post . . .

A Washington Battle In Which We Are All Winners

By James A. Kidney There is a battle going on in Washington.  No, not health care. Not Democrats and Republicans, either; at least, not the current crop.  It is being fought at two corners of Constitution Avenue and 14th Street, N.W.  It is a battle in which we all are winners. I am speaking of the “battle” between the newly energized Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the nine-month-old Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture.  Don’t let anyone tell you there is not competition among the Smithsonians in Washington.  As a volunteer at both of the aforementioned, I can assure you that, although it is friendly, these museums across 14th Street from each other know they are competing.   It is a grand contest. African-American opened last September with a speech from President Obama and has been pretty much packed ever since — deservedly so.  It is a wonderful … Read more of this post . . .

Will the Supreme Court Authorize Open Warfare at the Mexican Border?

By James A. Kidney The Supreme Court appeared split 4-4 Tuesday during oral arguments over whether the family of an unarmed Mexican teenager can sue the U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot and killed him.  The agent was on U.S. soil firing into Mexico to kill the boy.  You can find the details here and here.  The matter was being argued before the Court.  A decision is expected by summer.  But the description of the argument raises troubling issues. Foremost among them, but not directly raised in the dignified court arguments 20,000 feet above reality:  Is it OK for the Border Patrol and civilians to kill Mexicans across the border without liability to the families of those murdered, or even to the country whose land was invaded by U.S. bullets? Briefly, an unarmed teen-aged Mexican was playing with friends at a culvert dividing the two countries.  The game was to … Read more of this post . . .

Reminiscences and Ruminations on Journalism

By James A. Kidney In the spring of 1966, when I was home in Chevy Chase, Md., on spring break from my freshman year, I ventured downtown to visit the newsroom of The Daily News, Washington’s tabloid newspaper, which was owned by the Scripps-Howard chain.  It was an old brick pile at 13th and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, a stone’s throw from where the Washington Post’s new headquarters are now.  The News was D.C.’s third newspaper, after the Post and the dowager of local journalism, The Evening Star. I was quite familiar with the bus route to The News and with its inside geography.  I had been there many times.  The building carried with it recent childhood memories.  The tiny, rickety elevator to the newsroom with a creaky steel grate enclosure did not put me off one bit. It, along with the sweet smell of printers’ ink wafting from the pressroom … Read more of this post . . .

Savor the Moment, Oh Beautiful America

By James A. Kidney Whether you are a reluctant or die-hard supporter of Hillary Clinton, or even an increasingly rare “undecided” voter, take the weekend to savor the just-concluded Democratic convention.  Enjoy your own post-convention “bounce”.  Set aside your serious worries about the Republican candidate, though by-all-means enjoy the dark humor his candidacy has engendered.  If you think about presidential politics at all, be sunny.  If necessary, suspend your disbelief.  The hard and fearful events of the campaign will come again soon, if they have not already begun. Savor the warm recollections of our gorgeous First Lady and her thanks to the American people for providing love and confidence as she, her husband and two beautiful daughters weathered vicious attacks on their Americanism, heritage and hope from politicians and people who have not a flicker of their good spirit. Remember the vice president’s speech.  He knows the disappointments of life … Read more of this post . . .

I Just Want to Cry

By James A. Kidney

 The news this week on the race front is so demoralizing and sad that I, a 68-year-old white person, just want to cry.  There were senseless deaths of young black men (again) in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge.  They were guilty of nothing — not even bad conduct.  They were killed because of the skin color they wore.

As senseless, or maybe even more senseless, if possible, are the deaths of five policemen and six others wounded in Dallas. These officers were simply standing by as protestors assembled peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights.  They were killed only because of the uniform they wore.

police clubbing people drawingInstead of progress, we can add “copism” to “racism” in the lexicon of evils eagerly adopted by some men and women in this country.  In both cases, negative characteristics of the few are broadly applied to all based on either skin color or occupation.

My God!  The exclamation is appropriate. The chaos of the American burden — racial dysfunction — is Biblical, and not in a good way.

Read more of this post . . .I Just Want to Cry

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