Letters to the Editor
Readers write about what's wrong with journalism, why Israel must make concessions to the Palestinians, and why US media don't cover foreign news.
Journalists should be paid more
Regarding the May 19 Opinion piece, "Why journalists deserve low pay": I am not a journalist, but I am offended by author Robert G. Picard's dismissal of the moral and informative value of news. He suggests that newspapers specialize in their subject matter. How many newspapers does he suggest we subscribe to in order to get the news?
Investigative reporting is absolutely invaluable to a democracy and the reporters who often put their lives at risk to obtain it should be lionized, not denigrated.
I think this commentary misses a critical point about the news business. Journalists, for the most part, don't decide what they cover or how they cover stores. Their editors do, and, depending on the news outlet, their publishers do. Although it is valid to think that journalists may need to be the ones to figure out how to "fix" journalism, blaming the current "business model" on them is misplaced criticism.
Also, the journalists whom I know are very much interested in finding other kinds of satisfying work, through writing books, teaching at universities, doing investigative journalism on their own dime, blogging, going back to school to pursue a new career, and many other things. Though Mr. Picard does not say this outright, what he is accusing journalists of being is elitist, sitting in their ivory towers and refusing to come down to reality. That is a tired argument that has little basis in fact. Sure, there are arrogant, unbending journalists out there. But there are also arrogant, unbending doctors, lawyers, hat salespeople, and professors of media economics.
Are the doctors entirely responsible for the healthcare mess? Are hat salespeople obsolete given the prevalence of self-purchased ball caps, and are they arrogant for continuing to run their haberdasheries? Would a professor of media economics, if his job was "monetized" into a more commercial version of "publish or perish," be an elitist if he quit to do something more personally fulfilling, such as switching to an academic institution that believes in research and teaching?
The journalistic business model certainly needs reform, but attacking journalists as sticks-in-the-mud is quite off the mark.
Israel must make concessions to Palestinians for the sake of peace
In regard to the May 13 Opinion piece, "Obama puts Israel at risk": Here are my suggestions for creating peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians:
1) Abandon Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move it back to Tel Aviv. Make Jerusalem an "international city." If Israel's capital is Tel Aviv, then the Palestinians are more likely to accept, through international pressure, putting their capital in Hebron, for example. And if they don't? So what? Israel still then controls Jerusalem, just not as its capital city.
2) Negotiate with Fatah for borders as closely aligned as possible to the 1967 borders. Close all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and establish a recognized Palestinian state, headed by Fatah, in compliance with those borders. This act alone would have more effect in undermining Hamas than any other – a real Palestinian nation with territorial integrity. The population that supported Hamas will see that Fatah actually accomplished something big and Hamas's support will erode.
So long as Israel insists on dominating its immediate neighbors as a colonial power, peace will never come to the region.
Americans aren't interested in foreign news
In regard to the May 18 Opinion piece, "Without foreign coverage, we miss more than news": I would argue that the problem of a lack of foreign coverage by the media can only partially be explained by financial constraints and difficulties on the ground.
Unfortunately, I believe it has more to do with a lack of interest in these subjects on the part of the American people. Unless Americans (or Westerners) are endangered in these areas (such as with the capture of a US-flagged vessel off the coast of Somalia), we tend to prefer reading about Octomom and Miss California rather than pertinent events around the globe.
Our society has become numb to conflict and human suffering, and the media, being the businesses that they are, offer the products that their customer base demands and gladly consumes. Most major media outlets these days more resemble a tabloid/soap opera hybrid than respectable sources of domestic and international news.
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