July 16, 2004
If Religion Writers Rode the Campaign Bus...
... what would be different? It's a question best put to journalists and writers who know something of religion. So we did that, over at The Revealer, where a forum on the "R" word is underway: "In search of religion on the campaign trail." Journalists and bloggers on the god beat--plus an atheist--turn their attention to politics and its rituals. Here's the deep background.
To the truly religious person, Reality is unthinkable without reference to the metaphysical dream given to him by his religion. I think this is the main thing that journalists, who don’t even understand the idea of the metaphysical dream, though they too have one, lack when they try to report on religion — or for that matter, politics, culture, and anything that involves the world of ideas that motivate and inspire people.
— Rod Dreher, editorial writer and columnist for The Dallas Morning News, at The Revealer’s special forum on The “R” Word in Campaign Coverage.
Last week I wrote a lengthy analysis of convention news, and what has gone wrong with it. Convention Coverage is a Failed Regime… was published on the same day that news broke of bloggers getting credentials in Boston. It’s now the second most linked-to PressThink post, which of course tells us that bloggers are interested in bloggers.
But they are not the only ones. Yesterday the mighty New York Times, on its editorial page, was finding “reason to hope” that “this year’s one potentially risky innovation — accepting dozens of free-form online bloggers as accredited convention journalists — may lace the proceedings with fresh insight and even some Menckenian impertinence.” (H.L. Mencken, you see, would call a blowhard a blowhard.)
Fresh insight. Americans who pay attention to the news would welcome it. But how does something like that—a new source of insight—actually come into political reporting? And if you want impertience: why is political reporting, as practiced, incapable of renewing itself in this way? It must be in some kind of rut.
When 30 or so credentialed bloggers are invested with freshness hopes that 15,000 media people cannot credibly sustain—and this seemed to be what the Times was saying—that tells you something. We can urge the blogs to go get ‘em in Boston, but we also have a right to ask how it happened that all imaginable sources of intellectual renewal have disappeared from reportage on the campaign trail.
To me this is a good starting point for criticism of campaign news. The people who compile it are very smart (and they work extremely hard, meaning all the time) but the form seems to be somehow brain dead, for reasons that are never quite clear when journalists get around to complaining about it themselves— which they do, of course.
For example, it is baffling to me—but on the other hand it might explain some of the deadness—that the reporter chosen by the New York Times as lead correspondent in the 2004 campaign, Adam Nagourney, is week-to-week practicing the most predictable variety of journalism possible for someone in his position: poll-driven horse race coverage with an inside baseball feel, featuring quote-the-consultant, here’s-the-strategy stories that approach Absolute Typicality. (See my analysis of his insider-ish account in January. But the best example is this piece on the undecided voter) And Nagourney, let’s remember, is a great newspaper’s head writer for the story. I have asked people with Times connections about this, the Nagourney dead zone, and the only answer I get is a shrug: “For some reason, that’s what they want.” The editors, that is.
Last week, I wrote about journalists who peddle as “fresh” the insight that politics is scripted for television, for the media, for the audience— like a show. “What’s fascinating to me,” I said, “is that journalists will still offer this observation today, at least twenty years after its SELL BY date, as if it they were tuned to something the rest of us did not grasp: it’s a show, folks… ” And I quoted some examples of the press doing just that. Two days later, in a column intending to be critical of his peers, William Powers of the National Journal wrote:
That’s what modern presidential campaigns are, after all — elaborately staged big-budget productions in which every line that’s uttered, every piece of scenery, is carefully calculated to win over the public .
This basic point is the conventional wisdom about media age politics and especially campaigns for president. It has been that for at least 20 years among journalists. The narrative we get from the press is about everthing in politics that’s “carefully calculated to win over the public.” Adam Nagourney has claimed that as his beat! But to Powers, and many of his peers, it is still some big insight into Things as They Actually Are: “Hollywood seeks big box-office returns, while political parties are after big poll numbers, but otherwise the two games are remarkably similar.”
Powers says he’s aware: “This is not exactly news, of course, and on a superficial level, the media appear to understand how entertainment values have transformed politics.” Witness Judy Woodruff talking about John Edwards and his “star power” on CNN. Witness our awareness that campaign stops are like little movie sets.
We all know this is how it works. But our knowledge of the game doesn’t diminish its power. To me, the mystery is why these elements don’t get more attention from the media. As a culture, we are extremely sophisticated about the way image and sound work together in the movies to make us think and feel a certain way. Yet our political journalism feels like a remnant of the 1940s, with its creaky emphasis on electoral mechanics — the swing-state obsession — and earnest discussion of which Big Issue, the economy or the war, will matter most.
“Earnest discussion of big issues” is a strange way of characterizing political journalism these days. That today’s campaign coverage has a 1940s feel—an era when the parties, not the candidates and their handlers, were still kings—is just a weird statement to make. Television wasn’t even a factor then; now it is the factor, we’re told. In the 1940s, political polling was in infancy. Today the polls are treated—by politicians and journalists alike—as the base line reality in politics, and everything that happens is read in that light.
I doubt there is a reporter on the beat today who doesn’t see campaign politics as one big media game, poll-driven and filled with fakery. Yet here is Powers trying to get critical traction this week with, “it’s the election movie itself, the enormous, costly multimedia production we’ll all be watching every day for the next four months, that will really decide this campaign.” (Not the voters, the “movie.”) If only this part of politics were “taken seriously and dissected on its own terms, the way we dissect Hollywood products,” then campaign reporting might come alive, he says.
I don’t think so. Powers is recommending as cure what amounts to more disease. I doubt that’s going to inspire anyone; and it won’t lead to fresh thought. The late Michael Kelly, writing in the New York Times magazine eleven years ago, made the same points Powers makes today. Kelly’s ostensible subject was David Gergen, the media advisor, pundit, and consummate insider, described as “master of the game.” But the real subject was how “image” had become “the sacred faith of Washington.”
In bitter prose Kelly described the shared assumptions of the nation’s political class: the “pollsters, news media consultants, campaign strategists, advertising producers, political scientists, reporters, columnists, commentators,” all of whom had come to believe that what a politician is and does are not important. “What is important is the perceived image of what he is and what he does.” In this view, described as the dominant one in 1993, politics
is not about objective reality, but virtual reality. What happens in the political world is divorced from the real world. It exists for only the fleeting historical moment, a magical movie of sorts, a never-ending and infinitely revisable docudrama. Strangely, the faithful understand that the movie is not true— yet also maintain that it is the only truth that really matters.
Strangely, that is what Bill Powers did last week, repeating Kelly’s point, which Kelly said was obvious back then. By now what’s obvious is the sense of intellectual exhaustion as the same “insight” is pounded home year after year, cycle after cycle. It’s all a show, folks, one big media production… This is an idea with nothing more to give, but we keep getting it from the press. The answer to every single problem in reporting on campaigns cannot be: de-mystify the process!
When any reasonably informed American can chat with friends about the “convention bounce” when the big show is over for the Democrats, things are pretty well de-mystified. During the past week I have been interviewed by a good cross section of the American press, which jumped on the bloggers-to-Boston story as one of the few “new” factors at the conventions. (See this in USA Today.) And the more I thought about their questions (“what can the bloggers bring to this?”) the further back in the coils of press think I had to go. The problem isn’t how to cover the conventions— or the campaign. You have to start before that, at the point where conventions get defined by journalists as “newsless in advance.”
Why are they newsless? Because nothing happens, as any reporter will tell you. But what does that mean: nothing happens? Nothing substantive. No new information revealed. Nothing said that hasn’t been tested for acceptability to voters targeted long ago. No conflicts allowed, no intra-party debate. No surprises. No news. Just rah-rah and spectacle.
That’s how the game is played, right? “But our knowledge of the game doesn’t diminish its power,” Powers wrote. Michael Kelly said almost exactly the same thing in ‘93. Both were mystified by it. Perhaps this is because knowledge of the “game” side of politics is not only an incomplete understanding, it is fatally so— finally so.
Maybe irony, backstage peaking and “de-mystify the process” only get you so far, and past that point they explain nothing. Puzzling through the convention story, because I’m heading right into it myself, made me to realize that journalism’s contempt for ritual—and if “contempt” is too strong, then the difficulty the press has in understanding the conventions as ritual—was deeply involved here. Ritual is newsless; therefore it must be meaningless. But is that really true? Maybe there’s another story the press cannot tell unless it learns to take ritual seriously.
And that’s what leads me to the forum now happening at The Revealer. (I’m the publisher, Jeff Sharlet is the editor, the Pew Trusts are the funders.) If a religion writer covered the presidential campaign, would campaign coverage be any different? My reasons for asking this months ago, when we started planning the forum, were vague. Now they’re much clearer.
The least interesting part of that question is how journalists on the god beat, or with some feel for it, might handle the assorted religion stories that pop up in election campaigns. The more interesting part, to me, is how religion-aware reporters and writers would cast a different light on normal politics, the rough and tumble of the campaign, the rhetoric of candidates, the way issues are framed, the pack behavior of the press, the “master narrative” their peers advance as if it’s the only narrative, the character issue as it is called (with journalists as the uneasy judge of character), the feeding frenzy, the ads for god’s sake, and yes, the “game,” which is a legitimate part of politics.
Here’s William Powers again advocating for Hollywood-style coverage of the conventions:
Inside the journalism trade, entertainment coverage is not taken very seriously. It’s the realm of fluff and hype, while politics is the major-league beat, the place where brainy, meaningful journalism supposedly occurs. But to me, entertainment coverage, the media’s obsessive treatment of movies and TV, often feels a lot smarter than our old-fashioned, boys-on-the-bus political coverage.
Religion writers have similar status in newsrooms. But maybe toward some things in politics they are better tuned. It’s not implausible. But not a journalist of religion myself (or a very religious person) I wanted to know from some who are:
- What might be different about their way of seeing politics, or listening to it. What do they look for that others may not know to look for?
- Looked at another way, it’s a question about the narrowness and highly ritualized quality of that strange genre, “campaign journalism.” How would a reporter and writer steeped in religion bust open the genre? What conventions would they not be inclined to observe?
- What frustrates you, as a religion writer, about the campaign journalism you read and absorb?
- If the political press, the pack, the boys and girls on the bus, are one “tribe” in journalism (as I think they are) and religion writers another tribe, how do the two tribes differ in the way they view political campaigns, and especially the contest for the presidency?
In our invitatation to writers, I asked them how the journalist of religion might deal differently with such elusive matters as:
- a candidate’s statements of faith and religious conviction;
- the advertisements that demonize the other and promise the world;
- the visions of the good and the good life that are on display in presidential campaigning;
- the understanding of America and her creed on display in the rituals of a president election;
- the dominant metaphors, languages games and narrative frames in campaign journalism;
- the ever-present threat of scandal, gaffe, feeding frenzy and what means;
- the sense of time secularized reporters share and the implicit time frame in political coverage;
- uses of the sacred in both campaigning and covering politics.
Better questions, I thought, than “how big a bounce is Kerry going to get coming out of Boston?” The answers are starting to come in, as different journalists (and some religion bloggers) take up the invitation as I’ve sketched it here. There are many more to come, as the Revealer’s Campaign Forum continues during the summer months.
Amy Sullivan, an editor of The Washington Monthly and author of the weblog Political Aims says that reporters on the beat are not interested in “the nuances of how religious faith informs a candidate’s political thought and behavior.” They treat most professions of faith “as a cynical political tool.” Journalism like that cannot answer “a crucial question for voters: Why should we care about a candidate’s faith?” Sullivan writes:
What Republicans have learned is that if a candidate asserts his religiosity vigorously enough, political writers will label him a “religious man” without asking what that really means or why voters should care. This hands-off approach usually favors Republicans, who get a pass from reporters reluctant to engage in Scripture-quoting contests, but it can also be seen in the treatment of African-American politicians, who are assumed to be more sincere about their faith, and in the way the press approached Joseph Lieberman’s religiosity.
If you’re seen as sincere, you get a pass from reporters looking for signs of fakery. But as Sullivan points out, reporters who “fail to ask tough questions of candidates who bring their religion into politics and make their religiosity one of their selling points for office” are shirking their duty. Checking for fakery, and calling it out, just isn’t enough. A believer ought to be questioned even more closely, she argues.
Jason DeRose, a reporter for Chicago Public Radio who has religion in his beat, discovered on one assignment why campaign ads are so bad. They don’t “capture the imagination of the electorate,” as one derisive ad exec told him. This led him to ask: in a religious country like the United States, don’t candidates have to capture the religious imagination of the country? DeRose writes:
By religious imagination, I mean an ability to deal with sacred texts—hymn and history, story and sermon, prophesy and poem. I also mean an ability to understand contemporary religious realities as part of that same, unfolding body of sacred texts: Religious institutions, the faithful, the vaguely spiritual and the faithless are living human documents imagining themselves into existence and being imagined into reality by institutions, the faithful, the vaguely spiritual and the faithless.
Perhaps the Democratic National Convention in Boston is important because members of a political party will be “imagining themselves into existence” as Democrats there. This is part of what ritual is about. There’s a reality there, but it cannot be understood or even seen if “symbols” are the opposite of “substance,” an idea that political journalists have adopted uncritically.
The Revealer Forum was led off by Debra Mason, a Ph.D., and Executive Director of the Religion Newswriters Association, the major professional group for reporters on the beat. She thought my questions touchingly naive, and slightly obtuse:
Well-meaning preconceptions by people who haven’t worked the beat in the daily newspaper trenches year after year don’t quite hit the mark in terms of a religion writers’ reality—or their desire or ability to change longstanding journalistic tradition.
Religion reporters are part of a larger newsroom culture and well-entrenched there—nearly always coming to the beat from a different one.
That positioning makes them journalists first, and religion beat specialists second. The journalistic values of reporters writing about religion—complex and evolving as they are—do not generally differ from those who cover politics, medicine, education, or cops.
You’ve got the wrong idea, she’s telling me: “Good or bad, religion reporters writing about politics fall into the same traps and journalistic mannerisms as non-religion reporters.” Oh well, nothing but intellectual exhaustion there. But she’s right: well-meaning people “who haven’t worked the beat in the daily newspaper trenches year after year” don’t quite understand why that’s inevitable.
After Matter: Notes, reactions & links….
The Revealer Forum will continue through the summer, so check it out.
Future authors in include: Rod Dreher (columnist, The Dallas Morning News), Kim Pearson (College of New Jersey, author of Professor Kim’s News Notes), Shahed Amanullah (columnist, Alt.Muslim), Bob Smietana (contributor, Christianity Today, and God of Small Things weblog), Gaston Espinosa (Northwestern University), the Raving Atheist, A. K. M. Adam (AKMA’s Random Thoughts), Terry Mattingly (syndicated columnist, Scripps Howard) and Jeff Sharlet (The Revealer, Killing the Buddha).
Writers who have some expertise and want to participate should e-mail PressThink.
Let’s Be Clear, says Alex Jones, Bloggers Are the Sizzle, Not the Steak… Alexis S. Jones of Harvard’s Kennedy School and a former reporter for the New York Times, in the Los Angeles Times (July 18, 2004) on what distinguishes blogs at the convention:
Political conventions have become festivals of faux harmony and candidate image-building, which makes them marvelous targets for blogging’s candor, intelligence and righteous wrath.
However, bloggers, with few exceptions, don’t add reporting to the personal views they post online, and they see journalism as bound by norms and standards that they reject. That encourages these common attributes of the blogosphere: vulgarity, scorching insults, bitter denunciations, one-sided arguments, erroneous assertions and the array of qualities that might be expected from a blustering know-it-all in a bar.
Now Jones on the bloggers “air of conviction” and how this makes them targets, potential dupes:
In these early days, blogging still has the charm of guileless transparency, which in the blogosphere means that everyone — no matter how cranky or hysterical — is presumed to be speaking his or her mind with sincerity. It is this air of conviction that makes bloggers such potent advocates.
However, if history is any indicator, such earnestness will attract those who would exploit it, and they include some canny, inventive people.
It’s all there in the LA Times: Bloggers Are the Sizzle, Not the Steak: Convention seats do not turn Internet gossips into journalists.
Jeff Sharlet, Don’t Forget the Bodies: On losing count of the dead. (The Revealer, July 16)
A year and more into the occupation, nothing seems to change. Schools get built, city halls get bombed. Troops return home, troops go to war. And the pictures, they keep coming. All these photographs of bodies. So many that nobody bothers to read the captions anymore. All we say is — “Did you see? Those pictures?”
The burnt skin, the crushed heads. Corpses without limbs. Images without explanations. But we need stories. The press needs to sell them; the public needs to buy them; and, apparently, politicians need to tell them.
The story we have now is of a contest, between two bitter enemies. One side claims God’s backing, the other hints that it may be the standard-bearer of a more inclusive religion. Both say they champion democracy; both claim to speak for the people. Both insist that only one side can win, and that the world hangs in the balance. This, of course, is not Iraq. It’s the campaign.
David Weinberger comments on this post at Joho:
Some things always happen at a Convention; speeches and roll calls, for example. But they are mere, and not true, rituals if they don’t accomplish something more than what they seem to be accomplishing. I’d like to reserve the term “ritual” for actions that connect us to something larger and more meaningful than us individuals.
So, is the Convention a ritual? From the outside — and from the way it gets covered — it seems to be a mere ritual, going through motions because the motions used to mean something. Is a roll call vote anything more than a chance to elbow your way into your 15 seconds? The voting itself merely makes official a decision that was made in the primaries. Or does the shell of action somehow invigorate the spirit? I don’t know, but I’m suspecting it does because, no matter how ordinary we want to make our public lives, it seems we can’t quite keep the extraordinary out of it.
The Religious Lens: In a reply, Ian Welsh of BOP News comments:
There are many Americas - many things America means. The Republicans have taken one vision of America, identified it with Bush and themselves and used it as their shield.
The job of Democrats is to identify their symbols with America - perhaps the America that took the downtrodden masses, the America that believed all men were equal, the America that is the land of opportunity for everyone, and to identify their leaders with those images.
What would a religion writer write of the convention? What America Kerry and Edwards were presenting to their followers. What symbols, what meanings they had attached to that America.
A reader’s comment: “It’s fine to realize that politics is all show. But then the story is how the show is connected to the real world — because it is.”
“The high priests of journalism may dismiss this as heresy… Aldon Hynes of Greater Democracy, who will be going to Boston as a blogger:
I don’t want to spend time speaking with party officials and DNC members that have been to innumerable conventions. I don’t want to speak with the people for whom being a delegate is a reward for flipping a lot of burgers at county party picnics.
I want to speak with the delegates that have had to beg borrow and scrape to get to Boston because they believe that their participation is crucial for the well being of this country. I want to speak with those who have a missionary’s zeal for converting the unbelievers to participatory democracy. I want to help them reach as large an audience as possible.
Posted by Jay Rosen at July 16, 2004 7:27 PM
"Rituals, routines, and ruts have some things in common, but they are not precisely the same." - The Ambiguity of Ritual
I hope bloggers or religion journalists can find something in the interstices of convention events, the penumbra of the "script", to reassure me or capture my attention or expose a crack by which to pry open the political regimes I'm dissatisfied with.
And I am dissatisfied.
The spin masters' carefully scripted conventions lack vitality - joie de vivre - and journalists reminisce of Mencken.
But before I ask bloggers and/or journalists to do something different, I should be able answer the question of whether the old ritual of quadrennial conventions has now become a routine - disconnecting the participants (public at large, delegates) from the political Powers That Be? - or has it gone past routine and become a rut?
I wonder how realistic any expectation is that the "fresh insight" of bloggers, or journalists from outside the political tribe, differ to accomplish any renewal?
Political journalists seem to only look for the convention undertones in terms of vote counts, winners and losers, alliances and paybacks. Their writing seems influenced by a worship of the Machiavellian. Are we only lacking heretical political journalists that practice a different political religion? Are they only missing among the MSM? Is that what bloggers and other types of journalists might bring new, or reborn, to the table?
Is that what I find appealing in these essays? That hope?
Has political reporting become so gray, so objectified, as to disallow seeing past the Machiavellian machinations and make journalistic judgements based on New Dealism, Great Society idealism, federalism and/or republicanism?
Are the conventions, and political journalism, cold and unfriendly because Machiavelli has replaced the Politics of Friendship - and we are looking to bloggers and other genre of journalists to provide it?
Is that longing being misinterpreted into a reminiscence for Mencken lampooning Machiavellian politics and political narratives?
I have long heard the complaint of the disconnect between public and politics -- the public apathy. Has post-9/11 + Iraqi regime change equation increased interest, and dissatisfaction, among a public that sees ruts in existing politics and political journalism? Is there a desire for the return of rituals?
F. Scott Fitzgerald made the oft-contested observation that "there are no second acts in American life."
But he was speaking of the conditions that prevailed in the social hothouse of 1930's Hollywood celebrity. For us regular working class folks, Hollywood itself frequently produces narratives of second chances.
While the rituals of renewal in politics and organized religion have been steadily drained of their power over the last forty years, other secular and religious mythologies of renewal have proliferated, and even interwined, for instance, in the gnostic literature of self help.
Now there is the internet, which is promoted as a virtual framework on which the construction of the self can reach its materially-unemcumbered apogee.
Not only the self, but the entire social field can be reproduced, progressively, including the institutions of religion and politics.
To the civic boosters of the blogosphere, the internet offers the promise that our rituals of renewal themselves may possibly be born again.
Once when I was a child, my family drove past a church that had been built in-the-round. I asked my parents why the church was round. "So the devil can't hide in the corners," they explained.
In a similar way, the would-be architects of the blogosphere are attempting to build it in-the-round. It is a circle of circles. The devil is excluded.
Unfortunately, on the internet, the devil is always only another person, or his avatar, his bot, his viral script, his newly constructed self.
For example, someone might attempt to make a second career as a journalist, take some online courses, put up a blog, particpate in blog discussions - all in an attempt to construct that second (or third or forth) self that, this time, will really be it.
But the internet is not really that frictionless non-place where these constructions can seamlessly take form.
The internet has memory. It can preserve and even reproduce the most trivial of enmities, and the selves we thought we could effortlessly construct are subject to reconstruction, desconstruction, and even the destruction by other fragile constructs made hysterical and vindictive by the awareness of their own mortality, and through their subjection to the dictates of the superego Law. The remarkable proliferation of sadistic discourse online bears witness to the utter passivity that online inter-"action" can produce: the sadist is a passive figure who derives enjoyment from his mere instrumentality as an agent of the supergo: he is merely doing his duty.
That the construction of self online either fails destructively or only succeeds through exclusion (and the demand for exclusion is amplified by commodified growth - authentication/trust), also leads to doubts whether the progressive project of democratic renewal of failing institutions online is similarly fated. Will the internet's capacity to archive the totality of the past result in an inability to live a civic life, or a good life, let alone a second one? Will the next Bill Blythe be unable to transform into Bill Clinton, due to the undying virtual memory of the sins of the no longer nomadic father?
Instead of progress, will there be reaction?
Will we be limited to wishing, like Kilgore Trout before he stepped through the looking glass, for something to "make me young again" - spoken from a cartoon graveyard, or the ruins of a virtual hothouse?
Is this a born again dystopia?
Transparency is an effect of computer technology. Internet boosters convert this effect into a demand: "Transparency, people! Transparency!".
This is the demand of a quite literal overseer.
It is the computerized version of the productive change that accompanied the division of labor and the assembly line: "Speed People! Speed!"
The effect becomes a demand.
The internet is a church where confession is *required* and enscripted.
"universals of communication" ought to make us shudder. It's true that, even before control societies are fully in place, forms of delinquency or resistance (two different things) are also appearing. Computer piracy and viruses, for example, will replace strikes and what the nineteenth century called "sabotage" ("clogging" the machinery) . You ask whether control or communication societies will lead to forms of resistance that might reopen the way for a communism understood as the "transversal organization of free individuals." Maybe, I don't know. But it would be nothing to do with minorities speaking out. Maybe speech and communication have been corrupted. They're thoroughly permeated by money – and not by accident but by their very nature. We've got to hijack speech. Creating has always been something different from communicating. The key thing may be to create vacuoles of noncommunication...
So my advice to religious journalists covering politics: find the silences.
Pro-life Article September 2004
When did you begin to realize, creation & life are, like the human person, male and/or
female, simply designed processes. In view of this, let me suggest, one of the purposes of religion
is to make the invisible, visible and one of the purposes of Jesus (Saviour) the Christ (Anointed
One of God) is to make God visible to us.
Therefore, when one reviews or studies sacred scripture, the Bible, which is God
speaking to various peoples in different historical places and times, let me suggest a person could
view these writings as an EXISTENTIAL STATEMENT concerning ?reality?. The bible simply
reveals, makes visible the eternal unchanging aspects, elements of creation & life that are always
present, here and now. Creation & life, as they always are, but invisible to us.
This could mean the Bible slowly reveals reality, God & life, to us. The Old Testament
grows, develops into the New Testament. This means, when reading, studying Sacred Scriptures
of any of the Great Religions of the World, one must always look for, attempt to discover the
meaning(s) intended by the authors & editors of that written tradition.
From a pro-life perspective, let me suggest the Biblical understanding of life is slowly
enhanced, clarified, leads one to see “THE SALVATION OF A NATION” BECOMES “THE
SALVATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL” and even a violent death is just a step in the “life process”, i.e.
the resurrection. Therefore, one must always remember death is a part of life, life is not a part of
death. The great discovery/revelation of the Judaic Christian tradition is, the simple fact, an
“INDIVIDUAL LIFE” is the great treasure of reality, not some characteristic or some activity,
behaviour of the human person. THE SALVATION OF A NATION BECOMES THE SALVATION
OF THE INDIVIDUAL ... This is a belief, which human rights people support, because they state
no human characteristic such as age, colour, gender, sexuality, nationality, religious choice, etc.
can be used to discredit or create a negative perception of the individual person.
Study in depth the film GOD IN THE DOCK Pualist Fathers, Pacific Palisades CA 90272.
DOES GOD FORGIVE ME/US OR DO I/WE FORGIVE GOD (“BUT HAPPY ARE YOUR EYES
BECAUSE THEY SEE, YOUR EARS BECAUSE THEY HEAR! .....” mt13:16) THE DESTINY OF
A HUMAN IS NOT LOCATED IN THE HERE & NOW, IN TIME AND SPACE, history : THE
BHAGAVAD-GITA chapter 2:12-29 & BIBLE: chapter JN 14:1-4 .... Study in depth Bill Moyer’s
interview !!a video!! of Joseph Campbell & his book ‘The Power of Myth’ .. “I AM THE LIGHT OF
THE WORLD; ANYONE WHO FOLLOWS ME WILL NOT BE WALKING IN THE DARK; HE
WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.” (JN 7:12)
WHAT IS AN AUTHENTIC LIFE ??? WHAT IS COSMIC DNA ??? (IS LIFE,) LIFE IS A
DESIGNED PROCESS IN WHICH THE HUMAN IS FOUND GROWING AND DEVELOPING TO
MATURITY.? IT IS BECOMING CLEARER AND CLEARER BEYOND DOUBT NO HUMAN
CHARACTERISTIC I.E. GENDER, COLOUR, AGE, SEXUALITY, RELIGION, VALUES,
POLITICAL PREFERENCE, EMPLOYMENT, NATIONALITY, PHILOSOPHY, ETC. HAS THE
CAPACITY, ABILITY TO BE THE FOUNDATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL’S EXISTENCE,
IDENTITY, LIFE-STYLE WHICH WOULD ALLOW THE PERSON TO CONTINUE IN
TO CANADIAN GOVT - PRO-LIFE DEPT: PRO-LIFE = PRO-NATION or a nation with a future
To be a nation with a future, you must be open, accepting and inclusive of new life; you
must be open & accepting of fatherhood/motherhood; and you must be open, accepting of
marriage meaning a married male & female + their children.
From the April 20/04 Windsor Star pg A1: Contraception cited in birth rate decline ... Only
328,802 babies were born in 2002 ... The Canadian birth rate continued its decline in 2002 with
the lowest rates ever recorded, says a Statistics Canada report ... declining from 1.51 children per
woman in 2001 to 1.50 in 2002. A record low of 1.49 was set in 2000 .. REF TO: ‘HUMANE
VITAE’ FOR INSIGHTS CONCERNING LIFE, REALITY ...
Are Canadian (political, legal, cultural, academic, media, religious, etc.) leaders bringing
about Canada’s death by: rejecting, destroying life in the womb - abortion; rejecting
motherhood/fatherhood for job/workhood, sameness not equality; by rejecting family/marriage as
a married heterosexual couple + their children. (Ontario birth rate 1.47). (ref to: humane vitae
which comments on these matters - DOES ABORTION DISCRIMINATE AGAINST
FATHERHOOD, AGAINST MOTHERHOOD, AGAINST LIFE, AGAINST THE CHILD & OTHERS
From history we learn nations, civilizations come and go ........ but God, life, religion (the
relationship between people & God) go on and on .......... How can, could a person believe,
have faith in this GOD??? A GOD born as a child to a virgin (union of spirit & matter) in a poverty
situation and who years later died/EXECUTED alone as a tortured, rejected, dangerous criminal
by the various authorities -political, religious, military, cultural, legal, etc.- of that time/era.
As Jesus was walking on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house,
and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. (Mt 9:9) “Do not let your
hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s
house; if there were not, I should have told you. and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I
shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the
place where I am going.” (Jn 14:1-4)
COSMIC DNA: To better understand this Good News it is helpful to remember time for
the Judaic-Christian faith is lineal (doesn't repeat) as compared to believing time is cyclical
(repeats). To clarify this reality we can view the Bible as a person on his or her journey through life
to God. In the beginning, the book of Genesis, is like a child because God, the parent, does
everything. In the book of Exodus, the Jews, like teenagers, discover there are expectations and
demands (the Ten Commandments) put on them if they are to be a successful people, a
successful community or nation. Following these rules allow the group to function in an orderly
manner for everyone's benefit. In the book of Judges we see the Jews or Hebrews are like a
young adult (nation) establishing him or herself among other adults (nations) as a viable,
productive and equal individual. [What makes them different to other nations is the fact they
believe in, worship and follow God's laws.] In the books of the Kings and Prophets we discover
the Hebrews as struggling middle-aged adults, facing all of the problems of life - the mid-life
crisis. Now after 2000 years we come to the New Testament, the time of Jesus the Christ, a
mature, knowledgeable and experienced human - a senior citizen - who knows that in spite of
the suffering, the persecutions, the chaos, the destruction and death, we have always been safe
and secure in the presence, the protection, the womb of God. These negative aspects of life, in
Christ, have lost their power and have been defeated by him
The Catholic Religion is Sacramental in nature, that is, it is designed to assist a person
on his or her journey with others through the various stages of life, i.e. 1. Baptism - the public
joining of God’s visible community; 2. Confirmation - a public statement declaring one’s
adulthood in the faith; 3 & 4. Reconciliation & Communion (Mass) - the means to assist, to
support, build & repair, the community’s social & religious implications; 5. Marriage - the public
recognition that the man married to a woman + children (sex, sexuality & family) are part of the
meaningful & valuable foundation for human existence; 6. Holy Orders - a part of the faith
community dedicated in a special manner to serve and build the relationship between and among
God and people(s); 7. Sick & dying - to support at the end of life an individual & community in a
time stress and difficulty;
Therefore, examining the ‘men’ who served, worked for, acknowledged God we find .........
abraham, isaac, jacob, joseph, moses, the tribal leaders, kings, prophets, jewish priests etc etc
and then we come to the person, Jesus the Christ, where we discover the degree of commitment
to serving GOD & humans is raised to a new height of 100% or total commitment. Therefore, may
i suggest, in the catholic tradition as the ideal there is this imitation of christ by the ‘priest’ ..mt
4:1-11... poor celibate obedient etc etc dedicated as a totality to God & human service & some are
even successful at doing this!. (and then most of the apostles were martyred by ??? & st. paul
was executed by the romans ,,,,,,, )
Study in depth the film GOD IN THE DOCK Pualist Fathers, Pacific Palisades CA 90272 DOES GOD
FORGIVE ME/US OR DO WE/US FORGIVE GOD REMEMBER, LIFE & SEX HAVE MORE POWER THAN
HUMANS, NATIONS OR CIVILIZATIONS ..... AND THE QUESTION BECOMES, “HOW CAN YOU NOT BE IN GOD’S
PRESENCE?” AND THE ANSWER IS, “YOU CAN’T!” IS/DOES ‘GOD’ = THE ‘THEORY OF
EVERYTHING’??? TO (A) FATHER(HOOD) AND/OR (A) MOTHER(HOOD) POLITICS DOES NOT HAVE ANY
CREDIBILITY, NOR DOES LAW HAVE ANY CREDIBILITY, NOR DOES THE MEDIA, CULTURE, ACADEMICS, ETC
ETC ETC ......
If you (or another media person/institution) feel threatened or intimidated by the above/following material please contact the Windsor Police 519-255-6700,
extension #4340: Staff Sergeant Jim. Director KEITH WILBUR 1817 KIRKLAND AVE WINDSOR ONTARIO N8P
PressThink: An Introduction
We need to keep the press from being absorbed into The Media. This means keeping the word press, which is antiquated. But included under its modern umbrella should be all who do the serious work in journalism, regardless of the technology used. The people who will invent the next press in America--and who are doing it now online--continue an experiment at least 250 years old. It has a powerful social history and political legend attached...
The People Formerly Known as the Audience:
"You don't own the eyeballs. You don't own the press, which is now divided into pro and amateur zones. You don't control production on the new platform, which isn't one-way. There's a new balance of power between you and us." More...
Migration Point for the Press Tribe: "Like reluctant migrants everywhere, the people in the news tribe have to decide what to take with them. When to leave. Where to land. They have to figure out what is essential to their way of life. They have to ask if what they know is portable." More...
Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over: "Here is one advantage bloggers have in the struggle for reputation-- for the user's trust. They are closer to the transaction where trust gets built up on the Web. There's a big difference between tapping a built-up asset, like the St. Pete Times 'brand,' and creating it from scratch." More...
"Where's the Business Model for News, People?" "It’s remarkable to me how many accomplished producers of those goods the future production of which is in doubt are still at the stage of asking other people, “How are we going to pay our reporters if you guys don’t want to pay for our news?'" More...
National Explainer: A Job for Journalists on the Demand Side of News
This American Life's great mortgage crisis explainer, The Giant Pool of Money, suggests that "information" and "explanation" ought to be reversed in our order of thought. Especially as we contemplate new news systems. More...
The Beast Without a Brain: Why Horse Race Journalism Works for Journalists and Fails Us. "Just so you know, 'the media' has no mind. It cannot make decisions. Which means it does not 'get behind' candidates. It does not decide to oppose your guy… or gal. It is a beast without a brain. Most of the time, it doesn’t know what it’s doing.." More...
They're Not in Your Club but They Are in Your League: Firedoglake at the Libby Trial: "I’m just advising Newsroom Joe and Jill: make room for FDL in your own ideas about what’s coming on, news-wise. Don’t let your own formula (blog=opinion) fake you out. A conspiracy of the like minded to find out what happened when the national news media isn’t inclined to tell us might be way more practical than you think." More...
Twilight of the Curmudgeon Class: "We’re at the twilight of the curmudgeon class in newsrooms and J-schools. (Though they can still do a lot of damage.) You know they’re giving up when they no longer bother to inform themselves about what they themselves say is happening." More...
Getting the Politics of the Press Right: Walter Pincus Rips into Newsroom Neutrality "The important thing is to show integrity-- not to be a neuter, politically. And having good facts that hold up is a bigger advantage than claiming to reflect all sides equally well." More...
A Most Useful Definition of Citizen Journalism "It's mine, but it should be yours. Can we take the quote marks off now? Can we remove the 'so-called' from in front? With video!." More...
The Master Narrative in Journalism: "Were 'winning' to somehow be removed or retired as the operating system for news, campaign reporting would immediately become harder to do, not because there would be no news, but rather no common, repeatable instructions for deciding what is a key development in the story, a turning point, a surprise, a trend. Master narratives are thus harder to alter than they are to apprehend. For how do you keep the story running while a switch is made?" More...
He Said, She Said Journalism: Lame Formula in the Land of the Active User "Any good blogger, competing journalist or alert press critic can spot and publicize false balance and the lame acceptance of fact-free spin. Do users really want to be left helpless in sorting out who's faking it more? The he said, she said form says they do, but I say decline has set in." More...
Users-Know-More-than-We-Do Journalism: "It's a "put up or shut up" moment for open source methods in public interest reporting. Can we take good ideas like... distributed knowledge, social networks, collaborative editing, the wisdom of crowds, citizen journalism, pro-am reporting... and put them to work to break news?" More...
Introducing NewAssignment.Net: "Enterprise reporting goes pro-am. Assignments are open sourced. They begin online. Reporters working with smart users and blogging editors get the story the pack wouldn't, couldn't or didn't." More...
What I Learned from Assignment Zero "Here are my coordinates for the territory we need to be searching. I got them from doing a distributed trend story with Wired.com and thinking through the results." More...
If Bloggers Had No Ethics Blogging Would Have Failed, But it Didn't. So Let's Get a Clue: "Those in journalism who want to bring ethics to blogging ought to start with why people trust (some) bloggers, not with an ethics template made for a prior platform operating as a closed system in a one-to-many world." More...
The View From Nowhere: "Occupy the reasonable middle between two markers for 'vocal critic,' and critics look ridiculous charging you with bias. Their symmetrical existence feels like proof of an underlying hysteria. Their mutually incompatible charges seem to cancel each other out. The minute evidence they marshall even shows a touch of fanaticism." More...
Rollback: "This White House doesn't settle for managing the news--what used to be called 'feeding the beast'--because there is a larger aim: to roll back the press as a player within the executive branch, to make it less important in running the White House and governing the country." More...
Retreat from Empiricism: On Ron Suskind's Scoop: ""Realist, a classic term in foreign policy debates, and reality-based, which is not a classic term but more of an instant classic, are different ideas. We shouldn't fuzz them up. The press is capable of doing that because it never came to terms with what Suskind reported in 2004." More...
Karl Rove and the Religion of the Washington Press: "Savviness--that quality of being shrewd, practical, well-informed, perceptive, ironic, 'with it,' and unsentimental in all things political--is, in a sense, their professional religion. They make a cult of it. And it was this cult that Karl Rove understood and exploited for political gain." More...
Journalism Is Itself a Religion: "We're headed, I think, for schism, tumult and divide as the religion of the American press meets the upheavals in global politics and public media that are well underway. Changing around us are the terms on which authority can be established by journalists. The Net is opening things up, shifting the power to publish around. Consumers are becoming producers, readers can be writers." More...
News Turns from a Lecture to a Conversation: "Some of the pressure the blogs are putting on journalists shows up, then, in the demand for "news as conversation," more of a back-and-forth, less of a pronouncement. This is an idea with long roots in academic journalism that suddenly (as in this year) jumped the track to become part of the news industry's internal dialogue." More...
Two Washington Posts May Be Better Than One: "They're not equals, but Washington and Arlington have their own spheres. Over the newspaper and reporting beats Len Downie is king. Over the website Jim Brady is sovereign. Over the userï¿½s experience no one has total control. There's tension because there's supposed to be tension." More...
Laying the Newspaper Gently Down to Die: "An industry that won't move until it is certain of days as good as its golden past is effectively dead, from a strategic point of view. Besides, there is an alternative if you don't have the faith or will or courage needed to accept reality and deal. The alternative is to drive the property to a profitable demise." More...
Grokking Woodward: "Woodward and Bernstein of 1972-74 didn't have such access, and this probably influenced--for the better--their view of what Nixon and his men were capable of. Watergate wasn't broken by reporters who had entree to the inner corridors of power. It was two guys on the Metro Desk." More...
Maybe Media Bias Has Become a Dumb Debate: "This here is a post for practically everyone in the game of seizing on media bias and denouncing it, which is part of our popular culture, and of course a loud part of our politics. And this is especially for the 'we're fair and balanced, you're not' crowd, wherever I may have located you." More...
Bill O'Reilly and the Paranoid Style in News: "O'Reilly feeds off his own resentments--the establishment sneering at Inside Edition--and like Howard Beale, the 'mad prophet of the airwaves,' his resentments are enlarged by the medium into public grievances among a mass of Americans unfairly denied voice." More...
Thoughts on the Killing of a Young Correspondent: "Among foreign correspondents, there is a phrase: 'parachuting in.' That's when a reporter drops into foreign territory during an emergency, without much preparation, staying only as long as the story remains big. The high profile people who might parachute in are called Bigfoots in the jargon of network news. The problem with being a Bigfoot, of course, is that it's hard to walk in other people's shoes." More...
The News From Iraq is Not Too Negative. But it is Too Narrow: "The bias charges are getting more serious lately as the stakes rise in Iraq and the election. But there is something lacking in press coverage, and it may be time for wise journalists to assess it. The re-building story has gone missing. And without it, how can we judge the job Bush is doing?." More...
The Abyss of Observation Alone. "There are hidden moral hazards in the ethic of neutral observation and the belief in a professional 'role' that transcends other loyalties. I think there is an abyss to observation alone. And I feel it has something to do with why more people don't trust journalists. They don't trust that abyss." More...
"Find Some New Information and Put it Into Your Post." Standards for Pro-Am Journalism at OffTheBus: "Opinion based on information 'everyone' has is less valuable than opinion journalism based on information that you dug up, originated, or pieced together. So it’s not important to us that contributors keep opinion out. What’s important is that they put new information in. More...
Out in the Great Wide Open: Maybe you heard about the implosion of Wide Open, a political blog started by the Cleveland Plain Dealer with four "outside" voices brought in from the ranks of Ohio bloggers: two left, two right. Twelve points you may not have seen elsewhere." More...
Some Bloggers Meet the Bosses From Big Media: "What capacity for product development do news organizations show? Zip. How are they on nurturing innovation? Terrible. Is there an entreprenurial spirit in newsrooms? No. Do smart young people ever come in and overturn everything? Never." More...
Notes and Comment on BlogHer 2005 "I think the happiest conference goers at BlogHer were probably the newbies, people who want to start blogging or just did. They got a lot of good information and advice. Some of the best information was actually dispensed in response to the fears provoked by blogging, which shouldnï¿½t be avoided, the sages said, but examined, turned around, defused, and creatively shrunk.." More...
Top Ten List: What's Radical About the Weblog Form in Journalism? "The weblog comes out of the gift economy, whereas most of today's journalism comes out of the market economy." More...
A Second Top Ten List: What's Conservative About the Weblog Form in Journalism? "The quality of any weblog in journalism depends greatly on its fidelity to age old newsroom commandments like check facts, check links, spell things correctly, be accurate, be timely, quote fairly." More...
Blogging is About Making and Changing Minds: "Sure, weblogs are good for making statements, big and small. But they also force re-statement. Yes, they're opinion forming. But they are equally good at unforming opinion, breaking it down, stretching it out." More...
The Weblog: An Extremely Democratic Form in Journalism "It's pirate radio, legalized; it's public access coming closer to life. Inside the borders of Blogistan (a real place with all the problems of a real place) we're closer to a vision of 'producer democracy' than we are to any of the consumerist views that long ago took hold in the mass media, including much of the journalism presented on that platform." More...
No One Owns Journalism: "And Big Media doesn't entirely own the press, because if it did then the First Amendment, which mentions the press, would belong to Big Media. And it doesn't. These things were always true. The weblog doesn't change them. It just opens up an outlet to the sea. Which in turn extends 'the press' to the desk in the bedroom of the suburban mom, where she blogs at night." More...
Brain Food for BloggerCon: Journalism and Weblogging in Their Corrected Fullness "Blogging is one universe. Its standard unit is the post, its strengths are the link and the low costs of entry, which means lots of voices. Jounalism is another universe. Its standard unit is "the story." Its strengths are in reporting, verification and access-- as in getting your calls returned." More...
Dispatches From the Un-Journalists: "Journalists think good information leads to opinion and argument. It's a logical sequence. Bloggers think that good argument and strong opinion cause people to seek information, an equally logical sequence. What do the bloggers bring to this? My short answer to the press is: everything you have removed."More...
Political Jihad and the American Blog: Chris Satullo Raises the Stakes "Journalists, you can stop worrying about bloggers 'replacing' the traditional news media. We're grist for their mill, says Satullo, a mill that doesn't run without us. Bloggers consume and extend the shelf life of our reporting, and they scrutinize it at a new level of intensity.."More...
Raze Spin Alley, That Strange Creation of the Press: "Spin Alley, an invention of the American press and politicos, shows that the system we have is in certain ways a partnership between the press and insiders in politics. They come together to mount the ritual. An intelligent nation is entitled to ask if the partners are engaged in public service when they bring to life their invention... Alternative thesis: they are in a pact of mutual convenience that serves no intelligible public good." More...
Horse Race Now! Horse Race Tomorrow! Horse Race Forever!: "How is it you know you're the press? Because you have a pass that says PRESS, and people open the gate. The locker room doors admit you. The story must be inside that gate; that's why they give us credentials. We get closer. We tell the fans what's going on. And if this was your logic, Bill James tried to bust it. Fellahs, said he to the baseball press, you have to realize that you are the gate." More...
Psst.... The Press is a Player: "The answer, I think, involves an open secret in political journalism that has been recognized for at least 20 years. But it is never dealt with, probably because the costs of facing it head on seem larger than the light tax on honesty any open secret demands. The secret is this: pssst... the press is a player in the campaign. And even though it knows this, as everyone knows it, the professional code of the journalist contains no instructions in what the press could or should be playing for?" More...
Die, Strategy News: "I think it's a bankrupt form. It serves no clear purpose, has no sensible rationale. The journalists who offer us strategy news do not know what public service they are providing, why they are providing it, for whom it is intended, or how we are supposed to use this strange variety of news."More...
He Said, She Said, We Said: "When journalists avoid drawing open conclusions, they are more vulnerable to charges of covert bias, of having a concealed agenda, of not being up front about their perspective, of unfairly building a case (for, against) while pretending only to report 'what happened.'" More...
If Religion Writers Rode the Campaign Bus: "Maybe irony, backstage peaking and "de-mystify the process" only get you so far, and past that point they explain nothing. Puzzling through the convention story, because I'm heading right into it myself, made me to realize that journalism's contempt for ritual was deeply involved here. Ritual is newsless; therefore it must be meaningless. But is that really true?."More...
Convention Coverage is a Failed Regime and Bloggers Have Their Credentials: "No one knows what a political convention actually is, anymore, or why it takes 15,000 people to report on it. Two successive regimes for making sense of the event have collapsed; a third has not emerged. That's a good starting point for the webloggers credentialed in Boston. No investment in the old regime and its ironizing." More...
Philip Gourevitch: Campaign Reporting as Foreign Beat: "'A presidential election is a like a gigantic moving television show,' he said. It is the extreme opposite of an overlooked event. The show takes place inside a bubble, which is a security perimeter overseen by the Secret Service. If you go outside the bubble for any reason, you become a security risk until you are screened again by hand."More...
What Time is it in Political Journalism? "Adam Gopnik argued ten years ago that the press did not know who it was within politics, or what it stood for. There was a vacuum in journalism where political argument and imagination should be. Now there are signs that this absence of thought is ending." More...
Off the Grid Journalism: “The assignment was straightforward enough,” writes Marjie Lundstrom of the Sacramento Bee, “talk to people.” When a writer dissents from it or departs from it, the master narrative is a very real thing. Here are two examples: one from politics, one from music. More...
Questions and Answers About PressThink "The Web is good for many opposite things. For quick hitting information. For clicking across a field. For talk and interaction. It's also a depth finder, a memory device, a library, an editor. Not to use a weblog for extended analysis (because most users won't pick that option) is Web dumb but media smart. What's strange is that I try to write short, snappy things, but they turn into long ones." More...