Just a smidge of optimism.

Friday, April 30th, 2004

…maybe that’s what Bill Moyers and David Brancaccio have to offer to end a week and a troubling month on the PBS Series Now.

First, a story on the real politics, bribery, and arm-twisting behind passing Bush’s Medicare bill.

Then, an eye-opening account of the Pro-Choice, Pro-Women March in Washington last weekend that makes the point that there are millions of religious…deeply religious, pro-choice people out there, and maybe they’ll make it to the polls in November.

Then, an interview with Bob Edwards, who articulately (and yeah, somewhat emotionally) makes the case that journalists covering the White House and journalism in general is not doing the tough job that was defined in the age of Edward R. Murrow. I think I’ll use my gift from Leslie and Christopher to get Edwards’ book on Murrow.

Not good news, overall, capping a month that is filled with not good news, overall. Then why my optimism? Some journalists were at work on that program. They did precisely their jobs, told compelling stories.

Touched something in me.

And now, minutes from Ted Koppel’s Nightline-long reading the honor roll of our dead in Iraq (another program doing difficult work in the face of rabid, senseless jingoism), I have a bit of hope for all of us. Good night, and good luck.

I raise my Morning Edition coffee cup…

Friday, April 30th, 2004

…in tribute to broadcaster Bob Edwards, who finishes up “24 years and 6 months” of hosting the popular NPR program this morning. I know this with some precision because he mentions it several times in just that way—a small sign, perhaps, of the frustration he feels at not being able to cross the 25-year finish line later this year as Morning Edition host.
Just finished listening to the replay of his final few minutes on the MP3 stream that my G5 faithfully records every day before dawn, and I got kinda choked up when they played the long version of the B.J.Liederman-composed theme at the end of Bob’s interview with CBS’s Charles Osgood (who will “see us” on the radio, he always says at the end of Sunday Morning).
“Do you know why we’re talking this morning?” Bob asked Osgood. Turns out the first interview he did on Morning Edition was with Osgood in 1979. “You’re my alpha and omega.”
I always remember—perhaps over-remember—my encounter with Edwards and NPR’s Linda Wertheimer when they came to cover—and host All Things Considered from—the Ohio University campus in the spring of 1976. I remember Mo Udall campaigning on the college green, Jimmy Carter’s sons visiting town, and Edwards getting lots of attention from the young women who worked at WOUB radio.
I got into the dabbling I do with radio and television from generally romantic notions of what “broadcasting”—make that “Broadcasting”—was all about, born of a time when having an FCC license and serving as a public trustee meant something. I’ve always been impressed with the likes of Edward R. Murrow (guess who’s writing a book on Murrow), the steadfast voices of the BBC and CBC, and Cronkite, Schorr, Kuralt—and Edwards. Like most public figures, those latter men, on close examination, are filled with personal flaws and weaknesses, but they did a job on-air that was—and is—honorable.
That counts for something in my book.

Patron saints of my work.

Saturday, April 10th, 2004

Okay, I admit, I found this quite funny. Perhaps you will too. Perhaps especially of you’ve ever had border tape stuck to your eyebrows in the act of x-actoing a piece of recalcitrant newspaper copy.

Rice, burning.

Thursday, April 8th, 2004

As I type, Condoleezza Rice is testifying before the 9/11 commission–and she’s trying to talk over and obfuscate answers under questioning from the quite capable Richard Ben-Veniste. She’s obviously used to answering things her own meandering way.
* * * * *
It’s a rainy day, and I really ought to be hacking away at a Flash file instead of listening to Dr. Rice prevaricate, but it’s compelling television, and I’ll take my compelling television where I can get it these days. And as she meanders, so shall I through a few points.
* * * * *
I regularly check in at Transom.org when I want to imagine another career telling stories on the radio. Now, hey, they’ve won a Peabody, and deservedly so. Discover the complexities behind modern radio reporting on their now award-winning site.
* * * * *
Would you like to live in Oaxaca for a few months, a year? Our friend Martha Rees has a house for rent.
* * * * *
Wired magazine is blogging The Cult of Mac, and as a founding member of that cult, I heartily endorse that product and/or service.
* * * * *
The metaphors of intelligence are really quite odd. Dr. Rice seems to mention over and over again that they spent lots of time trying to “shake the trees.”
* * * * *
The esteemed Google has apparently stepped in it with their proposed g-mail service. Internet freedom pioneer John Gilmore points out just a few of the alarming components in the service, and Rich Skrenta looks at the architecture behind the mega-search engine and imagines an operating system that could dominate everything. Hey, I enjoy lots of these Google enhancements–entering bar codes and airplane N-numbers and the like…but individual privacy online is very, very important for me.
* * * * *