books I've read

Anne Hawn's books

Who Moved My Cheese?
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
Scientific Secrets for Self-Control
Just One Damned Thing After Another
The Vanishing
Exercises in Knitting
The Good Dream
The Very Best of Edgar Allan Poe
The Chosen
BT-Kids' Knits
Talking God
The Professor
The Christmas Files
The Finisher
Home Decor for 18-Inch Dolls: Create 10 Room Settings with Furniture and 15 Outfits with Accessories
Dracula and Other Stories
A New Song
All Quiet on the Western Front
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

Anne Hawn Smith's favorite books »

I'm reading 150 Books

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Yellow Journalism

This article by Mark Tapscott raises some interesting points about the media of today. So many of the horrifying stories about the lawlessness mayhem in New Orleans have proved to be untrue. Some of them, such as the reports of people firing at the rescue personnel, have even resulted in deaths. This is especially true of the reports designed to take cheap shots at the government. We all watched news briefings where the press hounded the government with negative comments while most of us were aching for real information that would tell us what was happening and how we could help.

The recent scandals concerning the news media are indicative of the decline in journalism. Or perhaps it is a throwback to the yellow journalism. I picked up this well written description of this practice:

The Sensational Beginnings of Yellow Journalism

In 1898, newspapers provided the major source of news in America. At this time, it was common practice for a newspaper to report the editor's interpretation of the news rather than objective journalism. If the information reported was inaccurate or biased, the American public had little means for verification. With this sort of influence, the newspapers wielded much political power. In order to increase circulation, the publishers of these papers often exploited their position by sponsoring a flamboyant and irresponsible approach to news reporting that became known as "yellow journalism." Though the term was originally coined to describe the journalistic practices of Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst proved himself worthy of the title. Today, it is his name that is synonymous with "yellow journalism."

Does this sound familiar? In case you have been in the Himalayas, there was the fabrications by Jayson Blaire and and the misuse of stringers and interns by Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg in 2003. Then there was the situation which led to the early retirement of Dan Rather; a case of his desire to find anything that would cast the President in a bad light. Rather’s bias against the Bush family goes back to the presidency of George Bush, Sr. I will never forget Rather’s blatent rudeness during the debates.

After the irregularities concerning plagiarism and fabrication in 2003, several editors of large newspaper did some investigating and issued memo's to staff to change policy. "The concerns (improper reporting) have even reached the executive suite. Dow Jones CEO Peter Kann, who oversees the Wall Street Journal, said in a memo: "Any and every editor up the line in our editing process has the right -- and the responsibility -- to question sourcing." Kann also cited many potential misdemeanors well short of the crimes of plagiarism and fabrication. . . . I am thinking here of the anonymous negative quote questioning someone's character; the unreturnable post-office-closing phone call that permits a publication to say 'unavailable for comment'; the closed mind to an inconvenient new fact that doesn't fit a story line; the loaded adjective where no adjective is needed; the analysis that edges across the line to personal opinion"

Look at the piece by Mark Tapscott and see if you think things have improved. Fortunately, we are not in the position for the readers of 1898. We have the Internet. We can go back and look, for example, at the speeches of our politicians and find the quotes of President Clinton and many other prominent Democrats concerning Sadam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. We can hear how they urged the military action that they decry today. We can catch John Kerry in all of his flip-flops and even his time served in Vietnam.

I spend a lot more time getting my news today. I like the Internet because I can go right to the source. I think a lot of reporters have forgotten what it means to simply report the news and not create it, so I am glad that I have another option, but what a shame for a once noble profession.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

13 year old babysitter charged in death of toddler. Who is to blame?

This is a hard one. It's a tragedy all around.

A 13-year-old babysitter accused in the death of a toddler claims she was simply trying to calm the child by "wiggling" her, but prosecutors say Ashley Howes murdered Freya Garden in a manner consistent with shaken-baby syndrome.

King County prosecutors say the teen confessed in a police interview to shaking the fussy 19-month-old girl at least twice while babysitting her and her 5-year-old sister.

But defense attorney Bryan Hershman told Court TV that his client never admitted to harming Freya and that the statement does not amount to a confession.

Almost 10 months following the Jan. 16 incident, a Seattle juvenile court judge will begin deciding next week whose version is more believable.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Between Bad and Worse

I haven't seen any more information on the previous article I copied from NewsMax. I wonder if it truly happened? It smells a little fishy to me as well as some other bloggers. See here Even if it isn't true, it brings up some interesting points.

What does a person do when faced with such a choice? Is there a "right" way to choose? What would I do? That's another problem that a disaster like Katrina brings to light. How do you know that you will make the right choice in an emergency situation?

A lawyer probably would say it was safest to simply let the terminal patients die in fear and agony. Isn't it sad that in this era of lawsuits we have to think about being sued when faced with such a choice? Someone becomes a doctor because he or she wants to alleviate suffering. To allow a terminal patient to die in such a cruel way goes against everything the profession stands for.

Does our legal system allow for such impossible choices? I don't have much confidence in our courts anymore. A doctor could just as easily be sued for leaving the patients to die in agony without providing for their relief. If this situation really happened, I bet some lawyer read about it and started looking for a potential plaintiff.

Doctors: Hurricane Katrina Forced Us to Kill Patients

Is this really what happened or just another bit of misinformation or exaggeration from the early days of Katrina?

Doctors: Hurricane Katrina Forced Us to Kill Patients
Monday, Sept. 12, 2005

Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leave them behind to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals, according to a shocking report in the respected British newspaper the Daily Mail.

One emergency official who spoke on the record, William "Forest" McQueen, told the Mail: "Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die."

McQueen, a utility manager for the town of Abita Springs near New Orleans, told relatives that patients had been "put down," saying medical personnel "injected them, but nurses stayed with them until they died."

The Mail did not name the other members of the medical staff interviewed by the newspaper in order to protect their identities. Euthanasia is illegal in Louisiana.

One doctor said: "I didn't know if I was doing the right thing. But I did not have time. I had to make snap decisions, under the most appalling circumstances, and I did what I thought was right.

"I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony. If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose. And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul.

"This was not murder. This was compassion. I had cancer patients who were in agony."

The doctor said medical staffers divided patients into three categories: those who were medically fit enough to survive, those who needed urgent care, and the dying, the Mail reported.

"It came down to giving people the basic human right to die with dignity," said the doctor.

"There were patients with ‘Do Not Resuscitate' signs. Under normal circumstances, some could have lasted several days. But when the power went out, we had nothing.

"Some of the very sick became distressed. We tried to make them as comfortable as possible.

"You have to understand, these people were going to die anyway." According to the Mail, the confessions of the medical staff "are an indictment of the appalling failure of American authorities to help those in desperate need after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city."