Monday, March 31, 2008

Today's Word—Let's Talk

Let's Just Talk

“It’s not my natural language. I’m not a politician. I haven’t been a social activist. At the same time, it’s an opportunity and a duty that I cannot let go. . . . We have vowed to fight the hatred that took Danny’s life, and one way to fight the hatred is to communicate. . . . This is our vision of revenge. . . . The loss of Danny will forever tear my heart. But I can think of no greater consolation than seeing your [Pakistani] children some day pointing at Danny’s picture and saying, ‘This is the kind of person I want to be.”’
—Judea Pearl, computer science professor, remembering his son, Daniel Pearl (1963-2002), a Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002 and later beheaded, 2008

On This Day . . .
In 1889, the Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower's designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers.

In 1968, Lyndon Baines Johnson announced: “I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party as your President.”

Friday, March 28, 2008

Today's Word—Truth Is No Strumpet, Sir!

Seek Truth:

“Truth is a demure lady, much too ladylike to knock you on your head and drag you to her cave. She is there, but people must want her, and seek her out.”
—William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008), conservative icon, author, talk-show host, magazine editor and wordman. (See Buckley's New York Times obit)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Today's Word—Scumbag Rat Bastards

Prescription for America?

“All newspeople are scumbag rat bastards” (2005) . . . and . . . “This is America, it’s time for some logic and intelligence and less arguing about what really is good and bad.” (2008)
—Dell “SuperDell” Schanze, former owner, Totally Awesome Computers, and candidate for Utah governor (Salt Lake Tribune story)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Today's Word—Mourning Editors

All due respect…

“I often share the story of the small-town editor who finally managed to drink himself to death. Finding that he was destitute, his cronies set out to collect money for a decent burial. Seeing the town banker, a frequent target of the paper’s editorials, they asked, ‘Sir, would you contribute a dollar to bury our editor?’ The banker pulled out a ten and snapped, ‘Here! Bury ten of ’em — and good riddance!’”
—Submitted by Joe Benham, newsman and alert WORDster

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Today's Word—Grammar

Nit-Picking Pedantry Lives!

“Ancient attitudes to grammar still survive: many people are in awe of it, know little about it, tend to fear or dislike it, often find it baffling and boring if exposed to it at school, and yet a minority is fascinated by it: a field in which precise scholarship and nit-picking pedantry have coexisted for centuries.”
—“Grammar” entry in The Oxford Companion to the English Language, edited by Tom McArthur, Oxford University Press (1992)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Today's Word—Politics NOT As Usual

The Politics of Race and Gender:

“For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle—as we did in the OJ trial—or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina—or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

“We can do that.

“But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.”

—Barack Obama
, democratic presidential candidate, “We the People” speech, Philadelphia, March 18, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Today's Word—Finding Facts

News Sources:

“A funny thing happened during the Iraq war: many Americans turned to the BBC for their TV news. They were looking for an alternative point of view—something they couldn’t find on domestic networks, which, in the words of the BBC’s director general, ‘wrapped themselves in the American flag and substituted patriotism for impartiality.’”
—Paul Krugman, columnist, New York Times (5/3/03)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

“A Soldier’s Peace”

“A Soldier’s Peace” to Mark Iraq War’s 5th Anniversary

In 2006, Utah National Guard Sgt. Marshall Thompson came home from his last active-duty tour—a year as a military journalist and editor in Iraq. He was proud of his service, he said; he was a patriot, but he opposed the war in Iraq.

This Friday (3/21), to mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, Thompson will screen “A Soldier’s Peace,” an 87-minute documentary about his 500-mile walk across Utah in 2006 to express his conflicted feelings about the war. Thompson says he felt he “had to do something” after returning from Iraq. A quiet, private man, he settled on walking north-to-south across his native Utah, the reddest state in the Union, from Idaho to the Arizona border—one day for every 100 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

It will be the award-winning movie’s first showing in Thompson’s hometown, part of a series of events sponsored by Cache Valley Peace Works to mark the war’s anniversary. Earlier in the day, CVPW will sponsor the day-long exhibition of EYES WIDE OPEN, the powerful American Friends Service Committee collection of combat boots and civilian shoes representing Iraq war dead. Taggart Student Center, Utah State University.

Thompson, a journalist, Mormon and Utahn, graduated from Utah State’s journalism program in 2002 and has served as a journalist or National Guardsman—or both—in Iraq, Kosovo, Korea, Jerusalem and, currently, as a reporter for the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner.

Following Friday's film, he will be part of a panel on “Activism—An American Heritage,” also featuring local social activists: Friday, March 21, 7 p.m., Eccles Science Learning Center Auditorium, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.

For more information on Marshall Thompson, his views on the Iraq war or to find out more about booking his documentary film, see his website, A Soldier’s Peace (

Today's Word—The Good Journalism Recipe File

Another recipe for effective journalism:

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.”
—Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965), credible journalist (Thanks to alert WORDster Mike Pitman)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today's Word—Shock and Awe

Today marks the fifth anniversary of “shock and awe”—the U.S. invasion of Iraq, 2003.

For veteran White House journalists, getting a straight answer on Iraq was like pulling your own teeth:
“Those were the days when I longed for ABC-TV’s great Sam Donaldson to back up my questions as he always did, and I did the same for him and other daring reporters. Then I realized that the old pros, reporters whom I had known in the past, many of them around during World War II and later the Vietnam War, reporters who had some historical perspective on government deception and folly, were not around anymore. I honestly believe that if reporters had put the spotlight on the flaws in the Bush Administration’s war policies, they could have saved the country the heartache and the losses of American and Iraqi lives.
“It is past time for reporters to forget the party line, ask the tough questions and let the chips fall where they may.”
—Helen Thomas, dean of the White House press corps, 2006

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Today's Word—On TV & Parenting

NEWS NOTE: Supreme Court to take on profanity on live TV

“My only advice is, if you value the culture of your children, if you value the notion of your own sovereignty, if you value any sense of independence in the future, you [must] make a serious investment in your own televised programs and motion pictures to compete with the American products and, if necessary, place limits on American products.”
George Gerbner (1919-2005), media scholar, 2002

Monday, March 17, 2008

Today's Word—Recipe

Take 1 Tbsp. pitbull, add 2 C. public interest…

“The recipe for an effective journalist, then and now, is 1 percent vocational training, 9 percent intelligence, talent and experience, and 90 percent attitude. The proper attitude? Picture a touchy pit bull that pulls his chain off the ringbolt every time he smells smugness—privilege without humility—and mendacity. A real journalist, we were taught, only unsheathes his pen in the public interest, defending the social contract and protecting the citizen without leverage, the underdog. If you don’t believe that, you can write like E.B White and appear in 400 newspapers, and you're still a publicist to me.”
—Hal Crowther, journalist, INDY, the Independent Weekly in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, NC (3/14/07) (See “Remembering Molly Ivins”)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Take a Break

The WORD is off for a week's Spring Break—both “Spring” and “Break” are needed. So everyone take a deep breath and reflect (and comment, if you like). More green and refreshed WORDs will return March 17.

Today's Word—Good Works

The Good Life of Journalists:

“I hope that my achievements in life shall be these—that I will have fought for what was right and fair, that I will have risked for that which mattered, and that I will have given help to those who were in need, that I will have left the earth a better place for what I’ve done and who I’ve been.”
—Art Hoppe (1925-2000), columnist, San Francisco Chronicle (Thanks to alert WORDster Marc Davidson)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Today's Word—More on Polling

If Your Mom Tells You She Loves You, Get a Second Source...

“Sane and intelligent human beings are like all other human beings, and carefully and cautiously and diligently conceal their private real opinions from the world and give out fictitious ones in their stead for general consumption.”
—Mark Twain (1835-1910), writer (Thanks to alert WORDster Bronle Crosby)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today's Word—O' Gramma!

Today is National Grammar Day!

Grammatically Speaking:

“We owe much to our mother tongue. It is through speech and writing that we understand each other and can attend to our needs and differences. If we don’t respect and honor the rules of English, we lose our ability to communicate clearly and well. In short, we invite mayhem, misery, madness, and inevitably even more bad things that start with letters other than M.”
—Martha Brockenbrough, grammarian and founder, National Grammar Day

Monday, March 3, 2008

Today's Word—Political Endorsements


“I confess that I’ve never quite understood why newspapers endorse presidential candidates. Sure, I know the history and the tradition, the fact that newspapers in the 18th and 19th centuries were often affiliated with political parties, but why do they do it now? Why do it at a time when the credibility and viability of the press are at all-time lows? More important, why do it at a time when readers, especially young readers, question the objectivity of newspapers in particular and the media in general?”
Richard Stengel, managing editor, Time (March 3, 2008)