Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’

I hope this will be my last move.

I wasn’t destined to live in the same community for 50 years, surrounded by friends and family, secure behind a picket fence; a well-known, semi-serious journalist and Hadassah “macher.” Macher is a Yiddish word, a noun:

“Someone who arranges, fixes, has connections…someone who is [very] active in an organization” (Rosten) “important person”, “hot shot.”

n. Somebody who is successful, handy, dextrous.


I’ve always felt a sort of underlying derision whenever someone calls someone else a macher. But maybe that’s just me?

I guess the moment my foster parents picked me up – during our Year of Living Dangerously, with the Flapper in surgery and my big sister Kay in a coma – and brought me to Victory Gardens, my fate was sealed. I would be a little gypsy, traveling over the Delaware Water Gap, between NJ and PA. Uprooted at every turn.

I told myself I was happy to have two mothers, one warm and comforting, the other beautiful and mysterious. I was lucky to have two birthday celebrations, two Christmases, and two homes. Pulled between one set of siblings, half siblings and step-siblings and being an only child. I secretly longed to just stay put.

Now I know that longing for something you’ve never had can be a recipe for a depressive disorder. So instead I try to stay present. I’ve chosen to accept our nomadic existence, after all I married an Emergency Physician. Once he’d roll into an ER and fix it, he’d want a new challenge. I always told the kiddos their Dad wrote the book on Emergency Management, and he did!

Yesterday I asked Bob, “How many bathing suits does one woman need?” And like a good manager, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “That depends.”

Sorting and packing is different this time around. There are the clothes I’ll never fit into again, the clothes I’ll never wear again, and everything else. Pandemic fashion has turned out to be comfortable cotton yoga wear I bought at Whole Foods, along with an occasional Eileen Fisher piece on sale, online. Of course I’ll keep these things, and my boots and fancy shoes that stand watch in my closet, hoping I’ll need them again.

But why am I packing so many small rocks? One is from Ireland, and one is for our old neighbor’s dog Hodor, one is a crystal and one is a geode, and……..

Forgive my absence, but during this move I’ll be posting only once a week, on Mondays. By next Monday we’ll be in our new home – all one level with a big backyard. Bob designed the master bath for us to Age-in-Place. My beautiful master closet will be installed next month and the kitchen countertops are delayed because of a mix-up with the center island. No kitchen sink, no backsplash, so we’ll use Uber Eats for awhile.

One learns to pivot when you’ve moved as much as we have. And one learns that home can be a haven when it’s filled with the people you love.

Wish us luck!

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On Monday I was writing about fancy toilets.

Today we’ve learned about Mr T’s habit of tearing up documents and giving them a water burial. Did I ever in a million years think a president would flush paper down a toilet like a toddler? The answer is NO. Is it fair to jump on a certain NewYork Times author for withholding that little nugget until her book is about to be published? Maybe.

When I first started writing for a newspaper back in the Berkshires, I was happy just to have a job other than pioneering-new-mom-on-the-side-of-a-mountain. Bob was off working crazy hours and I was left tending to the wood stove while making my own baby food with a tiny Mouli grinder. I loved researching and writing about “black ice,” and anything else my editor had to offer.

And by researching, I mean calling people up on an actual phone and asking them probing questions. Writing while the Bride napped, then bundling her up and getting in my all-wheel-drive to plow through snow to hand in my essay at the office, only to take my red-penned papers back up the mountain for rewriting. Yes, I know I’m starting to sound like an old codger.

The work of a newspaper reporter, no matter where they happen to live, is essential to a happy and healthy democracy. I watched the Washington Post reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, cover the Watergate story and take down a president IRT. They chased after the money and helped to uncover most of the secret tapes Nixon had hidden, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling. Bob and I were just dating at the time, and I was writing for my own enjoyment.

Connie Schultz, a Twitter pen pal, received a Pulitzer Prize when she was writing for the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2005. She had the audacity to ask some coat check girls where the money in their tip jars went after everybody left. She spoke to the management of the company, and wrote a most brilliant and truthful expository essay. The Pulitzer Board awarded her the Commentary Prize “…for her pungent columns that provided a voice for the underdog and underprivileged.”

“The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”


At the Berkshire Eagle, I knew I was in the midst of something sacred.

I asked my editor once if I should take a writing class, but I guess the nuns taught me well with all that sentence diagramming. He didn’t want me to “change my voice,” and over the years I never have. I’ve tried to connect the lines between what’s happening in our public life with my own private thoughts. Bob says I think in metaphor, and once told someone, “She writes about anything and everything.”

Which sounds bad until you remember I just wrote about toilets.

Last night we had dinner on the porch with cousin Peg who also happens to be a journalist. Turns out our little Bug is working on her school newspaper, so they had a lot to talk about under the outdoor heater! My granddaughter gets to interview teachers and ask them anything she wants!

I’ll have to tell the Bug about Woodward following the money, and Schultz asking young women about their tip jars. Journalism, at its best, is an honorable profession that can be dangerous at times. Now we’ve learned that Mr. T brought classified documents to Mar-a-Lago when he left office; kinda pales when you compare this to Hillary’s emails about lunch plans.

Sometimes Bob would read a piece I was working on and ask me if I was ready to be, ‘fill in the blank’ – arrested, stalked, fired, or worse. I’d just laugh and say my phone number is unlisted. We didn’t have Twitter on our dumb phones back in the day.

In 2021, UNESCO reported 55 journalists around the world were killed. It’s not an especially high number on average, but the kicker is “Eighty-seven percent of all killings of journalists since 2006 remain unresolved… The organization noted too that women journalists also face a “shocking prevalence” of harassment online.”

And that’s what bothered me about the criticism of a certain NYTimes writer in the Twitterverse today. When does a journalist have a duty to inform?

No animal was hurt in the making of this picture

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Happy Valentine’s Day people!

Who doesn’t love a good romantic story? There was a time when I’d devour the coveted wedding announcements in the Vows Section of the Sunday New York Times, but now I read the digital version of “Modern Love.” If you haven’t discovered the Style Section of the Times, you’re in for a treat!

“A series of weekly reader-submitted essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love.”

Currently the paper is accepting submissions of “tiny love stories” of 100 words or less. The last one was a tale as old as friendship – one woman gets married and has a child, the other doesn’t. The single woman wonders if she’ll lose her best friend, especially as the coronavirus began to spread. But on a Zoom call, she sees the toddler crawling through a doggie door and realizes the baby is just as weird as they are! How could she be jealous?

While trying to avoid watching the fore-ordained Impeachment Trial, I happened to read about another weird love story playing out in the Politics Section. My two favorite things combined! It seems a Nashville native, TJ Ducklo, who was a deputy press secretary in Joe Biden’s White House, just resigned his position yesterday over claims that he verbally harangued a female Politico reporter who was working on a story about his love life.

“Per Vanity Fair, in January, Palmeri — who is a co-author of Politico’s Playbook — was assigned to report out a story that fits neatly into her beat: the then-unreported relationship between Ducklo and Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond, and the ethical questions it raised. On January 20, Palmeri contacted McCammond for comment, while one of her male colleagues reached out to Ducklo for the same. Things escalated rapidly. After Ducklo received the message, he called a Playbook editor to voice his disapproval, and was directed to speak with the reporters themselves. Rather than call the man who contacted him, Ducklo reached out to Palmeri and allegedly lashed out.


To be fair, both Ducklo and his girlfriend Alexi McCammond told their bosses as soon as their relationship turned serious and McCammond was switched from the Biden beat to Kamala Harris and other Progressive legislators. Also, Ducklo had just finished chemo treatment for stage four lung cancer. He also thought the conversation he had with Palmeri was off-the-record, still he allegedly said, “I will destroy you,” and told her she was just jealous of McCammond.

It’s strange how my feminism plays out in a situation like this; my initial reaction was, “Good”, because when the news first broke at Friday’s WHPresser, Jen Psaki told reporters that he would be suspended for one week without pay. A day later he’s quitting, and I’m thinking why do Democrats have such high moral standards when Mr T could get away with literal murder? Oh, and what about Mr T’s sexual harassment charges – 26 incidents of “unwanted sexual contact,” and 43 instances of “inappropriate behavior!”

Ah the joys and tribulations of amour. In my hundred word essay, I’d write about Bob getting the Keurig ready to go every morning before I get up. I pull out my mug that says, “Mrs ALWAYS Right” (a gift from a dear Italian friend – Bob’s mug says “Mr Right”) and never have to fill up the water chamber. He also keeps the pantry full with my special Starbucks French Roast pods. Every morning I think to myself, he must love me!

We’ll be staying put today since an ice storm is coming. Stay weird, warm and safe with your loved ones, the two and four legged varieties, and a very Happy Cupid Day and Year of the Ox. This was us at Bob’s 40th birthday party, a come as you were in the 60s affair of the heart.

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It’s the first Sunday in May and I’ve had my hands in the dirt, potting soil that is; I’ve planted Thai basil and regular basil, oregano and English thyme, French tarragon, rosemary and Italian sage to name a few. Our patio garden is like the UN of horticulture, resplendent with aromatic kitchen herbs mixed in among pots of flowers. And that makes me very happy.

We’ve had lots of time to think about things lately, and to do more of whatever brings us joy and less of the obligatory stuff. Today marks 2 months of our Coronavirus stay-in-place order. For 2 whole months Bob and I have been learning how to navigate staying home, with each other, all the time. Since Bob retired, I figured we’re veterans at this. And for the most part, our 40+ year marriage is a safe harbor, that is until the other day.

I opened the refrigerator door and couldn’t find the lox. I really wanted a lox and bagel, I’d even ordered the “plain” bagels, the kind Bob likes. Turns out, I’m a pro at using Shipt to shop Publix! I prefer “everything” bagels and whipped garden veggie cream cheese, but he’s a purist. It’s Philly’s original bar of cream cheese schmeared on a plain toasted bagel, or nothing at all. And nothing and nowhere could I find the Nova lox!

“You ate ALL the lox?!” I shouted at him.

While the Bride and Groom are on the front lines of this pandemic, the rest of us are holding our own in this storm, staying at home. We even ordered our herbs and vegetables and flowers from our local nursery online, which was difficult for me. I usually put my pots together as I go along, in person, inspecting roots and picking the most beautiful plants. I had to trust them to find just the right boxwood and lobelia.

Then we drove up, opened our back hatch and voila, no-touch garden shopping! But I wasn’t always a gardener, I used to be a newspaper reporter. I went to school board meetings and borough council and planning board meetings. I wrote biographies about colorful characters. I wrote expository essays and tried to make boring press releases palatable. Back in the day, when I had a deadline and people held the actual paper in their hands.

Today is not just the 8th week of quarantine, it’s #WorldPressFreedonDay. Without the fearless pursuit of the truth, without a free press, our democracy will become a true kakistocracy, run by incompetent, lying fools.

“3 May acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story. ”  https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldpressfreedomday

Today 67,000 Americans are dead, and Mr T tweets about “fake news?” This was his May 1st Tweet :

“Concast (NBC News) and Fake News CNN are going out of their way to say GREAT things about China. They are Chinese puppets who want to do business there. They use USA airwaves to help China. The Enemy of the People!

A free press keeps us honest, it shines sunlight into the halls of power. This pandemic too shall pass, just like this presidency, it will be found on the pages of a history book. And Mr T will not be able to deny the numbers of dead, or his magical/delusional thinking in January and February.

So if you don’t subscribe to a news outlet, preferably one that is independently-owned like the NYT or WPO, think about getting an online subscription. We can plant all the seeds we want this spring, but without sunlight, nothing will grow.



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In local Blue Ridge news, the Rolling Stone “Rape on Campus” trial is winding down. UVA Associate Administrator Nicole Eramo is suing the iconic rock magazine for 7.5 Million in a defamation lawsuit. Our little Cville courthouse has been hosting lots of Yankee traffic this week because Eramo, who was the person in charge of coordinating the school’s response to students claiming sexual assault or harassment, would like to prove the reporter and editors acted with malice.  

“Actual malice is a legal standard, loosely defined in this scenario to mean that Rolling Stone knew that information they were publishing was false, but they proceeded to publish it anyway.” 

Yesterday Sean Woods, an editor at Rolling Stone for 17 years, took the stand. And we learned that he meant to add an addendum to the original article, stating that the other witnesses refused to be interviewed in person for fear of reprisal (meaning their corroboration of “Jackie’s” statements after the alleged rape were hearsay). He really meant to add this, but he forgot!

This would seem unlikely. I might forget where I left my cellphone, but every editor I ever knew would never forget something like that. You must be a little OCD to be an editor; in fact, you may have to be certifiably OCD to do that kind of work. However, Woods stood by his criticism of the administrator, stating Eramo was a public figure and therefore subject to scrutiny…which is almost like saying, “Yeah we screwed up, but so did she, nah nah nah.” Oh and he also tried to resign, but they didn’t let him.

I wonder if being forgetful is the same as being malicious, only in a passive aggressive way?

Now y’all know I’m a card carrying feminist, a proud “nasty” woman, and if a woman cries rape, or “He kissed me against my will with a mouth full of Tic Tacs,” I will tend to believe her. But when the Columbia School of Journalism investigated this infamous rape on campus article and found it to be riddled with problems, I had to think twice. Or, as the Flapper always said, “Believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear.”

The problem of confirmation bias – the tendency of people to be trapped by pre-existing assumptions and to select facts that support their own views while overlooking contradictory ones – is a well-established finding of social science. It seems to have been a factor here. Erdely (the reporter) believed the university was obstructing justice. She felt she had been blocked. Like many other universities, UVA had a flawed record of managing sexual assault cases. Jackie’s experience seemed to confirm this larger pattern. Her story seemed well established on campus, repeated and accepted.   http://www.cjr.org/investigation/rolling_stone_investigation.php

Journalists everywhere have learned their lesson from this case. Just because someone sounds like they are telling you the truth and only the truth, and you want to be sensitive to a rape victim, you must still verify the story. Even though independent news outlets have been gobbled up by mega media corporations, and so many beat reporters have been eliminated from courthouses and borough halls, and the world of “putting to bed” a story at midnight in newsprint, has changed to an online rush of clicks and scathing comments…this one basic truth remains. 

I was taught to get at least 3 corroborating interviews on any story. Fact checking is a basic technique that we the readers must demand, particularly considering our own confirmation bias, in this world of Trumped-up half-truths. I thought you might enjoy some of my old campaign buttons.  http://www.poynter.org/2016/its-time-to-fact-check-all-the-news/426261/  img_5487

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What does the number six, a pen and Salman Rushdie have in common? Easy, they are all trending on Twitter.

And the reason is one of America’s highest literary awards, PEN’s Freedom of Expression Courage Award, was given to the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, and consequently, in protest for the seemingly “gleeful” way the mag treats Muslims, six authors are boycotting the big gala. Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Peter Carey, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, and Tayie Selasi will not be present next week at the big fete, and Salman Rushdie has just one message for them:

“This is a clear cut issue,” he wrote. “The Charlie Hebdo artists were executed in cold blood for drawing satirical cartoons, which is an entirely legitimate activity. It is quite right that PEN should honour their sacrifice and condemn their murder without these disgusting ‘buts’.”

The Hebdo killings, Rushdie wrote, is a “hate crime, just as the anti-Semitic attacks sweeping Europe and almost entirely carried out by Muslims are hate crimes. This issue has nothing to do with an oppressed and disadvantaged minority. It has everything to do with the battle against fanatical Islam, which is highly organised, well funded, and which seeks to terrify us all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, into a cowed silence.”     http://scroll.in/article/723627/salman-rushdie-slams-fellow-writers-for-boycotting-ceremony-to-honour-charlie-hebdo

It seems absurd to me that an award in the field of journalism, for speaking the truth, for freedom of expression and not being restricted by a country’s government, would create such a controversy at this prestigious American institution.

A Washington Post journalist, Jason Rezaian, has been languishing in an Iranian jail for over nine months. President Obama put his name on the national news cycle at the Correspondent’s Dinner. Gathering information as part of your job should not result in jail time, should not put you on a fatwa list, and should not get you gunned down in your office.

Yesterday I saw the Helen Mirren movie with a friend, Woman in Gold. The atrocities of Nazi Germany were portrayed in flashbacks. The Austrians never thought this could happen to them, and yet we saw sane, seemingly normal people standing by, silent, while Jewish people were humiliated in the street, had their stores closed and their artwork confiscated. In fact, Nazi soldiers were welcomed as they invaded their country. Silence and indifference.

When we start to restrict freedom of expression, we begin to silence freedom.


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From Dictionary.com

Whistleblower: a person who informs on another or makes public disclosure of corruption or


Leaker: a disclosure of secret, especially official, information, as to the news

media, by an unnamed source.

What we end up calling Edward Snowden says alot about us. After watching a replay of Meet the Press, where David Gregory interviewed the Guardian reporter, Glenn Greenwald, who is responsible for Snowden’s stories about our government’s secret agency and its “broad overreach,” I was actually appalled to find them both at each other’s throats. Two grown men,

“To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” Gregory asked with his best boyish grin.

Even though there was a slight satellite delay, Greenwald shot right back, calling him out on even suggesting, as one journalist to another, that they should be criminalized for doing their job! He explained that Snowden had offered his information to The Washington Post, before going to the UK…and he said he asked The Guardian to screen what they published – not to jeopardize our country’s security. Then, a few minutes later, Gregory read Greenwald’s further tongue lashing right out loud on Meet the Press, from a Twitter feed:

“Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?”

OK, so it’s now 4 am and I am not going back to bed!

That darn red cardinal is still slamming his body on my window, despite our attempt to make him feel like he was approaching a Smurf airfield.

photoThe sleep fairy has eluded me once more.

So Gregory said he’s not embracing anything, just asking the question that was “out there.” And Greenwald, who is also an attorney, further tweets about Gregory,  ‘does he publicly wonder if DC officials should be prosecuted for lying to Congress?’ And this morning Greenwald really gets the coffee flowing in my veins by Tweeting:

“It’s awful how Snowden is traveling through countries with no freedom! Now: back to our debate: should US journalists be arrested? #Sorkin

It’s like a Wimbledon match for journalism! IMHO, the best quote about my profession is, “The purpose of journalism is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” So here is a good wrap-up of this tele-computing exchange across the pond; http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/06/23/david-gregory-whiffs-on-greenwald-question/

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling comfortably afflicted! And if you’d like to know how it all got started: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/11/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-profile

Once we start accusing, threatening (yes, even in a veiled way –  “to the extent that you have aided and abetted” – I love how one reporter compares that to asking the question with no good answer – “Have you stopped beating your wife?”…) and yes, maybe even arresting investigative journalists, we might just as well pack it in as a democracy.

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As I watched LiNa, the oldest competitor (29) to play in the Women’s Finals,  win the French Open, I was ecstatic. She had that star quality, like Federer or Baryshnikov, to make their sport/art look easy. At one point, as LiNa was tossing the ball into the air to serve, a Chinese fan yelled something from the stands. She let the ball drop. The announcer, with a French accent, said that the Chinese fans have not yet learned “…the rules of deportment in tennis.” Silence, s’il vous plait.

Unfortunately, leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, bankers and traders abandoned their own set of rules of conduct. The SEC and the Feds remained silent as we slid deeper into a recession. Reagan had opened the playground to deregulation, and there was no adult supervision; players became greedy, and lost sight of the bigger picture. Can you tell, Bob and I watched the HBO movie this week, adapted from Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book, Too Big to Fail? It is a must read, or see.

Bob's dessert cell pix

But back to the anniversary dinner from the last post. I didn’t take my camera, at Bob’s request. A wedding rehearsal, golfers, and a family of geese were traversing the green outside Fossett’s window. While savoring the Chef’s tasting menu, a woman was arriving late to the table of six next to us. Every single man at the table stood up as she approached, which led Bob to say, “You don’t see that too often anymore.” Well maybe not, but in the South you do. Our head waitress greeted us by name… deportment can most definitely be a cultural thing. An older woman I respect once told the younger Bride to watch how a man treats the wait staff at a restaurant, that and the way he behaves with his mother are the single best, earliest predictors of his character.

LiNa, when asked about her age said, “Age just paper.” Maybe the global financial crisis is just paper, or  maybe the media needs to keep putting names and faces to the problem, to shine some light on Obama’s team, still trying to right this ship of unemployment and debt  statistics that is listing our great country toward a banana republic. Because following Palin’s mystical bus tour around just doesn’t cut it. And we all know that silence and indifference are the two key ingredients to any economic or societal meltdown.

One of my favorite NYTime’s columnists, and like Sorkin, a reporter with a mind and a conscience, Nick Kristoff says it best about “Our Fantasy Nation” today.


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