Layoff Silences an Important Voice

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson Philip Brasher, one of the last Washington-based reporters focused entirely on agriculture and food policy, has lost his job at the Des Moines Register. Brasher, along with 12 other Register reporters, fell prey to a mandate by parent company Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, that it’s 80-some properties lay off [...]

WikiLeaks: Why You Should Worry

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson I’ve spent the better part of this week researching the WikiLeaks affair, particularly as it relates to the publication of messages that put the State Department in an embarrassing light. My instinct told me this is important to the future of our country – more important than any of the issues [...]

Four Lessons from the WikiLeaks Leaks

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson Four lessons for government functionaries emerge from the WikiLeaks release of some quarter of a million U.S. State Department dispatches. 1. Unless you are sure of absolute security, don’t say anything in writing that you wouldn’t want to see on Page One of the New York Times. This is straight out [...]

Countdown Update

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson In case you weren’t one of the 300,000 to sign the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s petition, (I wasn’t, either) you may be surprised to know that Keith Olbermann will be back on MSNBC Tuesday night, after a two-night suspension without pay. His sin was contributing just before the Nov. 2 election [...]

On Journalistic Ethics

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson Keith Olbermann, the host of Countdown on MSNBC five nights a week, has been suspended without pay for an undetermined period. There’s no denying that he violated the ethical code of NBC, his employer. Last week he sent contributions of $2,400, the most one can give a candidate, to three Democrats [...]

On Reading the News

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson Starting in eighth grade, back in Paleolithic times when I was a student, we were taught to read newspapers analytically — to ask questions about what the words said, not just swallow them whole. I don’t see much evidence that skill is being taught today — nor in the past 40 [...]

Pull out your old Merriam-Webster and look up the word “spine”

By Debra Kozikowski Just yesterday afternoon, according to this exchange reported by Dana Milbank, journalist Helen Thomas seemed to be in top form as she dogged White House spokesman Robert Gibbs for an answer about the president standing up for the public option in health care reform.  “Is he going to fight for it or [...]

Journalism 2: Framing the Discussion

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson One of the things the radical right has excelled at is framing discussion of the issues that divide us in words of their choosing. One of the things the mass media have been terrible at is refusing to allow one side of these issues to frame the discussion. There are precious [...]

A Short Course in Journalism

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson Journalism — which is supposed to involve accurate and perceptive reporting — is one of the keystones of a successful democracy. People who don’t know what’s really going on can’t make informed voting decisions, let alone tell their elected representatives how they want to be represented. I could make the argument [...]

Broadband Update — and more on the NYT article

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson All that’s keeping my tiny (pop. 750) town from hooking folks up to our broadband network is the weather: Until the weekend’s heat wave, we had a 2-3 foot snowpack, daytime temps in the single digits, and high winds on top of the hill (in New England, it’s considered a mountain) [...]