Monthly Archives: June 2008

Reflecting on 1968

The Asociación de la Historia Actual has published an article of mine in its spring bulletin.

The article, The Music Was More Than Just A Soundtrack for the Events of 1968, is part of a special section on the anniversary of the protests of 1968. The piece explains how the messages and themes of protest music became a greater part of American culture as opposition to the Vietnam War grew.

The Asociación de Historia Actual bulletin is a multilingual peer-reviewed publication that promotes debate and research on historical issues. The organization is based at the Universidad de Cadiz in Spain.

Outsourcing the Newsroom

When I was a reporter at The News Tribune, we hired a copy editor from Texas. Although he knew the English language well, he was not familiar with New Jersey, and sometimes made errors, such as confusing the Garden State Parkway with the New Jersey Turnpike.

This comes to mind today because CNBC is reporting that the Orange County Register is outsourcing some of its copy-editing work to a company based in India. Given the state of the newspaper industry, publications all across the nation have been cutting costs through layoffs, consolidation and other measures — but this is a new one.

Apparently, it is being done on a one-month trial basis. It will be very interesting to see how the trial goes and what direction the newspaper takes afterwards.

Opie Never Had A Chance

It was disappointing to learn that the Rome Diocese didn’t even bother to read the script for the film Angels and Demons before denying Ron Howard permission to shoot scenes inside two churches in Rome’s historic center.

“Normally, we read the script, but this time it was not necessary,” Monsignor Marco Fibbi, spokesman for the Rome Diocese, told the Ansa Italian News Agency. “The name Dan Brown was enough.” Brown is the author of The Da Vinci Code, a best-selling novel that drew the ire of the Catholic Church. Angels and Demons is the prequel to the book.

Clearly, the Diocese has the right to determine what goes on inside its churches, but it also has a responsibility to not to prejudge anyone, regardless of what they may have done in the past. After all, isn’t that what Jesus taught?

NJ’s Number Two Slot

Yesterday’s Star-Ledger story about New Jersey’s new Lieutenant Governor post provided a long list of possible contenders for the position and outlined some of the factors that will come into play in choosing a candidate. While the piece made for interesting reading, let’s hope that as 2009 election draws nearer, there will be more focus on this new state office and what it means for the citizens of New Jersey.

A Question of Advertising

A two-page ad alleging that same sex marriages threaten our nation appeared simultaneously in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Times last week. The ad – and the reactions it has received – raise interesting questions.

News organizations have the right to turn down advertising, but they rarely do. As Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman noted in The Propaganda Model, one of the filters through which news passes is flak. Given the financial state of the industry, news organizations try to avoid controversies that will drain their fiscal and staff resources by having to defend their actions. In this case, turning down the ad may have generated more controversy than running it, especially for The New York Times. Whether accurate or not, the paper is viewed as liberal, so there may have been some reluctance to reject an ad from an organization espousing a conservative agenda, especially in light of the criticism The Times received for running a Move On ad – at a discounted rate — that was critical of General David Petraeus and the war in Iraq

Another filter that Chomsky and Herman identified is advertising. News organizations rely on the revenue it generates, so they are less likely to turn down ads. Once again, it all comes down to money.