An 'Independent Newspaper'
January 6, 2001
comments powered by Disqus
The international section of today's New York Times features a photograph of Syrians reading newspapers. The cutline under the photo says: "Syria Gets an Independent Newspaper: Syrians reading the first issue of a bimonthly Syrian Communist Party newspaper, Sawt al Shaab, or The Voice of the People, in Damascus on Thursday. The newspaper is the first to be published in the country without government control since the ruling Baath Arab Socialist Party came to power in 1963."
If the newspaper is a "Syrian Communist Party newspaper," it's not an independent newspaper. This is not a difficult concept. The Times would never describe a newspaper operated by the Democratic Party or the Republican Party in America as "independent." Why the lower standard for Syria? It's not exactly as if Communist parties anywhere are known for their friendliness to independent journalism.
The claim that the newspaper is being published "without government control" is also questionable. Syria is a police state. Any newspaper that emerged with a full-throated critique of the regime might publish an issue or two "without government control," but its editors would soon find themselves killed, tortured or languishing in a dungeon.
Finally, the use of the term "bimonthly" is a near-violation of Times style. As the Times' own stylebook puts it, "bimonthly means every two months; semimonthly means twice a month. For comprehension, use every two months or twice a month." If this newspaper is only going to be published every two months -- that is, six times a year -- then what is the big deal? Do the Times editors really think that the launch of a Communist Party organ to be published six times a year in Syria is a newsworthy development in and of itself?
Late Again: An above-the-fold front-page story in today's New York Times about the Tiananmen Papers reports that the documents "will be published Monday." That makes it sound like the Times has a scoop and is coming in ahead of the curve with this news article on Saturday. In fact, the editor of Smartertimes.com picked up a copy of the journal Foreign Affairs on December 31. That copy of the journal, the January/February issue, published the Tiananmen documents, and that issue has been out on the streets since at least December 31, 2000. (Smartertimes.com picked up a free copy at the USAirways Shuttle terminal at La Guardia airport.) In any case, the Tiananmen Papers are old news to readers of Foreign Affairs.
Likewise, the controversy that is the subject of the "NYC" column in the metro section of today's New York Times is old news to readers of the New York Post. The Times columnist remarks on the choice of the president of the National Rifle Association to receive an award at the annual dinner of the Congress of Racial Equality. The dinner is held in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. The Times columnist asks, "Isn't the country's most famous gun advocate perhaps an odd choice for honors at a dinner named for a national hero killed in 1968 by a gun?"
The New York Post's Neal Travis wrote yesterday in his column item titled "CORE off target?": "The big award is going to none other than National Rifle Association head Charlton Heston, despite the fact that Dr. King was assassinated by one of those guns that actor Chuck insists we all should be allowed to own."
Well, Mr. Travis was a day ahead of the Times on this one, but he and the Times are both wrong in suggesting that King was killed by "a gun." King was felled by an assassin. There's nothing inherently good or evil about a gun. The law enforcement officers who ultimately enforced integration bore guns. The police and FBI agents who are responsible for hunting down racist murderers bear guns. To suggest that the NRA is somehow culpable in the assassination of King is just flaky, as flaky as suggesting the organization deserves credit for integrating Southern schools.
Jesus: The "neediest cases" article in the Times metro section is particularly interesting today. It relates the story of a man who was born Jewish in Nazi Germany and who then converted to Christianity and who now attributes his well-being to "Jesus Christ, his church," and an agency of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York.
Subscribe to the Mailing List
© 2017 FutureOfCapitalism LLC