Besides being a novelist (e.g., The Name of the Rose), Umberto Eco is a professor of semiotics of international standing, and a prolific and accessible commentator on topics political and otherwise. The title refers to what he sees as a regression toward old-fashioned wars and hatreds, though he treats these matters briefly. The collection centers on pieces written during Italy’s age of Berlusconi, when the same man ran both the government and the major media. (Imagine a Rupert Murdoch in the White House.) Eco meditates on the fate of government under what he calls “media populism,” leadership claiming direct contact with the people through the media (television), and able to slip the fetters of constitution and press. All this commentary is entertaining, but its discursiveness has a quicksilver effect: What was that he just said? His final short offering, “On the Disadvantages and Advantages of Death,” written as he entered his seventies, contemplates the possible disadvantages of trying to extend life past a hundred years—boredom, repetitiveness, a world crowded with people of the same super-longevity. He decides to just let nature take its course.
09:00 AM - February 26, 2008
Short reviews of books: Woodward and Bernstein, the U.S. record on torture, and media populism
‘See you on the other side’ - Meet Jessica Lum, a terminally ill 25-year-old who chose to spend what little time she had practicing journalism
#Realtalk: This is the best moment to be in journalism - The old stuff isn’t coming back, but that’s okay
Streams of consciousness - Millennials expect a steady diet of quick-hit, social-media-mediated bits and bytes. What does that mean for journalism?
Sticking with the truth - How ‘balanced’ coverage helped sustain the bogus claim that childhood vaccines can cause autism
An ink-stained stretch - Can Aaron Kushner save the Orange County Register—and the newspaper industry?
The story behind one of the best business models in the country
“What was once genre is now the Zeitgeist”
What to make of the 28-year-old columnist’s contempt for the GOP—and its would-be reformers
Dowd and Fournier and countless others who have launched similar complaints are asking, “Why aren’t we getting what we were promised?”
David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon commencement speech as a short film
Who Owns What
A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Questions and exercises for journalism students.