Letters to the editor

September 8, 2015

Everything new

After reading your July/August cover story on Vice [“The Cult of Vice”], I came to the conclusion that they’re doing little that is edgy or groundbreaking. They’re delivering news content, well packaged around their brand, and they want to be seen by millennials as a trusted, albeit hip, gatekeeper, just like The New York Times and other “old” media.

I guess we can turn the song on its head: “Everything new is old again.”

James Heckel

Sparta, NJ

The people we know

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Jack Murtha begins his story thus: “Paul Watson may be the most famous journalist you’ve never heard of.” [“A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter explains why he recently resigned from the Toronto Star,” Aug. 5] In billing it, cjr Top Stories repeats the line: “The most famous journalist you’ve never heard of . . . just resigned from the Toronto Star.”

As Murtha notes, Watson won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. What he doesn’t say is that Watson won it for a photograph of a US soldier’s body being dragged through Mogadishu by a Somali warlord’s followers. The photo remains one of the best-known images of the 1990s. Millions of Americans would recognize it instantly.

The logical absurdity of Murtha’s lead would be partly redeemable only if his “you” referred to a rather select group of CJR readers: Americans who pay no attention to the Pulitzers, wouldn’t connect Watson’s name to the photo, are unaware of his collaborations with US literary figures on the topic of war reporting, and never read The Los Angeles Times during the 10 years he worked for the paper. I suspect that segment is somewhat smaller than your Canadian audience. And trust me—we’ve heard of Watson.

So forgive this 45-year CJR follower—currently a paying subscriber—for finding his reader engagement impaired. And remember: Online, the faddish second person addresses the whole world, not only residents of the United States.

Paul Knox

School of Journalism

Ryerson University, Toronto

Broad strokes

[Re: “Covering gay marriage when it’s really, really personal,” June 30, and other stories in CJR] It is long past time for the media—and CJR in particular—to understand that “gay marriage” is harmful and disrespectful when used as shorthand for “same-sex marriage.” The term “gay marriage” once again overlooks the largest population in the LGBT amalgam—bisexuals, those attracted to more than one sex or gender. Many same-sex marriages include (and future same-sex marriages will include) at least one such bisexual. Bisexuals respect our gay brothers and sisters, but bisexuals are not gay.


It is long past time for the media to understand that “gay marriage” is harmful and disrespectful when used as shorthand.

As an analog, CJR wouldn’t refer to all religious people as “Christians,” with an occasional reference to “Muslims, Jews, and other religious people.” No sane journalist would.

Constant erasure is a critical issue for bisexuals. Though the bisexual population exhibits higher rates of poverty, of mental-health issues, and poor physical health than gay or lesbian counterparts, research and service funding directed specifically at bisexuals is near zero. Constant erasure of bisexuals has been identified repeatedly as an important factor in this lack of progress.

Please discontinue the use of “gay marriage.” It is grammatically questionable, it is inaccurate and disrespectful, and it perpetuates the lack of public understanding that plagues this group of citizens.

Michael H. Prager

Portland, OR

No. More. Ads.

While I understand your point, I regularly ad block, since the ads are so annoying and in your face [“The digital media industry needs to react to ad blockers . . . or else,” Aug. 11]. The sites where I do not kill the ads are ones where I can ignore them if I wish.

I understand ads are important to make money. Just have them do it in a way that does not take control of my tablet, phone, or computer. Annoying me is the best way to get me to not bother with your site.

Also, most journalists have essentially become the propaganda arm of the dnc. Give me the facts, let me make my mind up. While I realize that most of the media is not Rolling Stone, it’s not too far from it.

But I digress. Make [ad blocking] less intrusive, make it optional, and I think you will find fewer people block the ads. Until you get the ads out of my face, I shall continue to block them.

Robert Murphy

Editor’s note: Reader feedback has been edited for length and clarity.

The Editors are the staffers of the Columbia Journalism Review.