letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Readers sound off on the new-look Washington Post, sports coverage, the trauma of covering Gaza, and more
September 2, 2014

Brick by Bezos

Which Bezos? Commenting on your article about Jeff Bezos taking over The Washington Post (“Brick by brick,” July/August 2014”), I have no doubt that the Post will NOT be controlled by a so-called literature-loving, charming billionaire. No, the Post will get the “other” Bezos—the real Bezos—whose aim has always been to accumulate power, not money, though he has managed collaterally, and with intense cleverness, to amass a lot of that as well. Bezos now has dominion over one of the world’s leading media outlets and its editorial coverage. Anyone who believes he will be a benevolent, hands-off owner who delegates operations to Post staffers is simply deluded. Bad enough that this guy has severely weakened a vast number of businesses, including the book publishing industry, but now he has his cold hands on an important international source of news and opinion—truly a danger to our democratic, pluralistic system. While his big bucks have “saved” the Post, I believe it’s a Faustian bargain.

Lawrence Lipsitz, Editor 
Educational Technology Magazine
Englewood Cliffs, NJ

As a subscriber and lifelong reader (I’m 53 y.o.), I have to say that the paper has been much better under Baron than it was the previous decade. More eye-catching photos, more interesting stories, better writing. It’s still too thin, and the web page could use improved editing, but all in all, it’s more readable. The headlines are better, also—“Silver Line Playbook” for a story about the new Metro line about to open, for example. I’m not alone in wishing the op-ed page got a shake-up, however.

Steve Davies
Comment on CJR.org

I have long been a fan of The Washington Post and grew up dreaming of one day walking its hallowed halls as a reporter (a dream unfulfilled to date), and have watched with interest all the changes that have taken place. Graham was a good owner and understood media. It will be interesting to see what happens in the era of Bezos. If he can do for the Post what he did for Amazon, then long live my favorite hometown newspaper.

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Guy Priel
Comment on CJR.org


To Elizabeth Spayd and colleagues, thanks for what you’ve done to the Columbia Journalism Review.
I’ve read it since I was a student and was proud that Columbia had initiated such a publication—an institution, in a way.
I used to look forward eagerly to each edition, but less so in recent years. Now I want to read it all. I hope you can sustain that kind of publication.

Good luck. 

George Fattman
Journalism School, class of ’64

Man soldiers

Great article (“Rosie the scribbler,” July/August 2014). Thank you so much for it. 

Just a note—maybe it was poetic license, or just mixing it up, but may I remind you that “woman” is not an adjective? It is a noun and only a noun.

We see it used that way to devalue the position: “Those women doctors now are everywhere.” It’s not a doctor, or even a female doctor, it’s a woman doctor. 

I know most everyone does it but someone has to stop. Unless you want to start using “man” the same way: “The man soldiers thought it was strange I was there at first.”

Thanks again, have a great day.

Heather Tarrant
New York, NY

Any reason why CBS correspondent Lara Logan was totally left out of Leila Fadel’s piece on women covering the war-torn Middle East and the dangers they face? On February 11, 2011, Ms. Logan was attacked, stripped, groped, beaten, and sexually assaulted by a mob in Egypt’s Tahrir Square in the waning days of the Hosni Mubarak dictatorship, an assault so violent it put her in a New York City hospital for four days. She even described the attack later on 60 Minutes in an interview with Scott Pelley. Seems to me a recounting of her harrowing experience would have made Fadel’s piece that much stronger, and I was left wondering: Since it went to the very heart of the article, why was the well-documented attack on correspondent Logan excluded?

John Winthrop
Cayucos, CA

Fair and balanced?

Re: your article “And from the left . . . Fox News,” March/April 2014. It was “fair and balanced” reporting. But I wish to call to your attention to a fact the media ignores. Not too long ago there was one lone conservative the public would see or hear about, and that would be William Buckley. It seemed he was the only conservative in the nation.

On network talk shows, when Buckley did appear to discuss current issues, he was invariably outnumbered by liberal panelists. Buckley was programmed more as a ratings entertainment because of his wit and erudition, not to be taken too seriously.

Those were the days before the ascendency of conservatives. No Heritage Foundation, Ronald Reagan, Drudge Report, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck (who it turns out was right on target in his scorned predictions, but don’t expect any media mea culpas).

You didn’t hear the liberal media whining about “fair and balanced” when they had dominance. Only when their turf was threatened. Now, of course, the gloves are off and anything conservative is fair game. Your article was an exception, especially in CJR.

With thanks,

Miriam Jaffe
Thousand Oaks, CA


Sports ball

I visit SB Nation sub-sites regularly, and most of its managing editors have a good sense of the responsibility that comes with representing their fan base (“The toy department shall lead us,” July/August 2014).

People are obsessive about sports, yes. But knowing how to properly and adequately funnel a person’s obsessive interest into constructive and critical analysis is the primary responsibility of a good editor. Many of them succeed.

Aaron B.
Comment on



In our July/August cover story, “Brick by brick,” we misspelled the name of Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner Robin Givhan. CJR

Notes from online readers:

How about, for a change, interviewing trafficked women who are actually still doing sex work (“Covering sex trafficking: Journalists can do better,” August 12)? There are plenty who are in the trade simply because it pays the bills. Many are not happy about it, but not all would describe it as “slavery.” Survivor interviews are usually biased because the “survivor” has a vested interest in staying on the good side of the government that can give residence permits and welfare grants. Women and men still in the trade might not want to speak openly for reasons of dependency, too, but undercover journalists have published stories that show more reality than many NGO-type “survivor” stories.

Evelyn Groenink

Next time she should report from southern Israel and share the trauma of incessant sirens announcing the arrival of more airmail from Hamas and join the children listening to the bombs bursting over their heads while sitting in shelters for hours on end (“The relentless trauma of covering Gaza,” August 12). Maybe not as bloody but equally as devastating to the psyche.

Maybe the Palestinian citizens should get together and say, if 1,000 of us are going to die today anyway, why not let it be from rooting out the cancerous growth in our midst named Hamas. If Hamas is gone, then 1,000 won’t die tomorrow.


I’m shocked that this was published (“Why The New Yorker’s radical feminism and transgenderism piece was one-sided,” August 6). There are some good criticisms of Goldberg’s piece, but overall, it reads as a bilious hate-rant rather than a constructive, thought-out critique.

The author undermines herself in numerous places by being infinitely more reductive than Goldberg. Genocide? Goldberg was describing two groups of people, fighting for equality, who had conflicting agendas at each other’s felt expense. Goldberg never implied that radical feminism existed solely to oppose trans rights. Her interpretation of Jeffreys’ book is not high-toned. And who said that she had not attempted to contact trans advocacy groups? More goes into the making of an article than meets the eye (in this case, a narrowed eye)—CJR knows that.

Goldberg did make mistakes. She should have quoted more trans voices. And she should have given a more thorough account of lesbian separatism. But it’s a beautiful thing that The New Yorker published a piece that demonstrated (despite this author’s opinion) how isolated transpeople are even from other social justice circles. She ends the article noting (in another person’s words), “But the pain of radical feminists, she insists, can’t trump trans rights.”

It’s brave for Goldberg to tackle such a contentious and multifaceted topic in The New Yorker. And she had to play to her audience. If the goal was to find a story that raised awareness about issues surrounding women as a whole and transwomen in particular—and inspire people to inform themselves further—Goldberg did an excellent job. If the goal was to convey a library’s worth of perfect-form gender theory that flies over the head of The New Yorker’s (older!) readers, Goldberg did indeed fall short.


I was left with the clear impression that Goldberg was being too harsh in her descriptions of the RadFems’ responses to transgender “women.” I’m not really sure why women who don’t want to hang with men who have become women is a problem to those former men. But Goldberg certainly didn’t seem to be arguing the case for the RadFem women as a group. It seemed that she was more sympathetic to the displeasure expressed by transwomen related to their exclusion from any context within which they sought to engage. Strange that you read the article and came away with a seemingly opposite understanding of what Goldberg was trying to convey.


CJR Staff