Re: “Streams of consciousness” by Ben Adler (CJR, May/June) Great read! As a millennial, I of course found it lengthy, and had to bookmark and come back a couple of times. But good content always wins. #LongForm-Journalism FTW ;-)
Re: Your editorial “Empty calories: To feed young minds, let’s add some nutrition to social media” (CJR, May/June) Sadly, most of what is churned out on social-media sites is opinion over facts, and so many people swallow whole whatever they hear, no matter how far-fetched. Social media has such an enormous reach, but ensuring that what is spread on these sites is original and relevant to the important things in the world today (as opposed to Bieber’s monkey) is a tall ask.
Bungay, Suffolk, UK
Thank you for covering this story (“Sticking with the truth” by Curtis Brainard, CJR, May/June). Andrew Wakefield may have loaded the anti-vaccine gun with his fraudulent study, but credulous news media outlets pulled the trigger.
Research is constantly amiss or badly reported. The stories with research that breaks from the crowd, even if flawed, are what the media wants. No one wants to report on another piece of research confirming what is already widely reported.
Balance within the bbc is also a difficulty, which meant that when programming for the Darwin project a couple of years ago, creationists were sought to give “balance” when the weight of opinion makes them left-field loons. Misapplied balance is the biggest threat to rational reporting. I am a media trainer at www.jdoubler.co.uk and a former BBC journalist. I’ve had to book guests for “balance” when I know there is only one side to a story because that’s what producer guidelines dictate.
Ruspidge, Gloucestershire, UK
With due respect to the Tampa Bay Times, which is an excellent newspaper, particularly for its coverage of Scientology, the paper “ignored established science” when it pushed for the return of fluoridation in Pinellas County. At the same time, it was editorializing for fluoridation when it published a meta-analysis from the Harvard School of Public Health confirming the accuracy of over 20 studies on endemic fluorosis in China that found that fluoride in drinking water damaged children’s brains as measured in lower IQ test scores. It seems newspapers and TV are not that good in covering stories in which experts disagree. Perhaps there should be a new prize for it.
Michael F. Dolan, PhD
Department of Geosciences, UMass
Above the fold
Ryan Chittum’s excellent article, “An Ink-Stained Stretch” (CJR, May/June) should be required reading for all of the credulous publishers and editors in America who swallowed the “digital first” hype of Internet consultants for years on end, even as their own newspapers went up in smoke. I especially liked the line regarding Aaron Kushner, new owner of the Orange County Register: “His thesis is simple, but highly contrarian: Newspapers are dying in large part from self-inflicted wounds . . .”
Amen, brothers and sisters.
A few of us have been out here crying in the wilderness against the digital hype and its lackluster blogs and delusions, at the helm of newspapers that remain strong and packed with journalism and features, precisely because we never drank the online Kool-Aid.
Managing editor and co-publisher
Northern Express Weekly
Traverse City, MI
The New York Times charges $20 a month; the Boston Globe $3.99 a week. I subscribe to both papers, digital only. Much as I would enjoy subscribing to the Orange County Register, I will not pay an inflated one-price-fits-all price at the same rate as a print subscription. They need to have some kind of tier system.
Sara Morrison’s well-reported, very moving piece (“See you on the other side” cjr, May/June) about Jessica Lum, whose tragic death cut short a very promising life in journalism, leads to something important to remember. Although there is much (justified!) wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth these days about the multiplicity of delivery methods and the difficulty in obtaining paid work in journalism, we need to think about the many Jessica Lums in our world: young people who are inspired and driven to do meaningful reporting; young people who will pay whatever dues they have to—at least for a while—looking for a break; young people who need to be taught, mentored, supported. We should be honored by her example, and dedicated in her memory.
Jessica was the perfect example of a life well lived. It’s not the length of life; it’s the depth. Stunning and heartfelt story.