Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
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Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
11.20 Dead fish to power cruise ships [using dead fish to ultimately kill more fish, animals and plants but at a slower rate]
11.20 Importing gas to replace domestic supply could push emissions up 20%, AGL says [We have to stop killing everything!!!]
11.20 The arts have a leading role to play in tackling climate change [We have to stop killing everything!!!]
11.20 Indonesia: dead whale had 1,000 pieces of plastic in stomach [We have to stop killing everything!!!]
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.21 With Statement Equal Parts 'Dangerous' and 'Imbecilic,' Trump Smears Khashoggi and Vows to Back Murderous Saudis [Keeping oil prices affordable prolongs its use, its burning and our dying]
11.20 New York City subway and bus services have entered 'death spiral', experts say [death spirals are the end-thing nowadays]
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.20 'He may not rewrite immigration laws': Trump's asylum ban blocked by federal judge [Has anyone thought about putting razor-wire around the White House?]
11.21 Saudi Arabia Accused of Torturing Jailed Women’s-Rights Activists [Trump's great friends...]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
International & Futurism
11.20 Trump administration hawks putting US on course for war with Iran, report warns [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
THE USUAL PUNDITS SERVE AS THOUGHT CENSORS:
Who Gets to Review and Be Reviewed?
Authors, book critics drawn from narrow pool
Book discussions that depend so heavily on white male authors, reviewers and commentators do more than deny a full voice in the discussion to women and people of color; they also deprive all readers and viewers of exposure to the variety of experiences and sensibilities that women and people of color would bring to the discussion.
When it comes to political books, the New York Times Book Review and the C-SPAN book show After Words share an exceedingly narrow view of whose books deserve review—and who is fit to discuss them. A FAIR study found that these important media venues for discussion of newly published books were overwhelmingly dominated by white and male authors, reviewers and interviewers.
FAIR’s study examined every episode of After Words from March 2008 to January 2010, and the reviews of politically themed books in the New York Times Book Review from January 2009 to February 2010. In total, the study counted 100 episodes of After Words and 100 reviews in the Times. In each case, the author(s) and reviewer/interviewer were classified by ethnicity and gender. (Because some books had co-authors and some reviews encompassed multiple books, there were 120 authors of 111 books in the Times reviews studied.)
In terms of ethnicity, the authors and reviewers featured by both outlets were strikingly homogeneous. In the Times, 95 percent of the U.S. authors of political books were non-Latino whites, a group that makes up 65 percent of the U.S. population. The non-white U.S. authors included three African-Americans, one Asian-American (Bush legal counsel John Yoo) and one Iranian-American. Of the 12 non-U.S. authors in the Times (10 percent of the total), 10 were white British, one was Israeli and one—Tariq Ali—was Pakistani-British.
The reviewer roster at the Times was even less ethnically diverse. Just 4 percent of U.S. reviewers of political books were people of color—two African-Americans, one Indian-American and one Arab-American. Eight percent of the Times’ political reviewers were from outside the U.S., all of them either white Europeans (British, Irish and French) or Israeli.
After Words was only slightly more ethnically diverse. Whites accounted for 93 percent of the U.S. authors; among the non-white authors, all but one were black. The study found nine international authors on After Words, coming from a range of countries, including Uruguay, Kenya and India.
After Words’ interviewers were the most diverse group the study counted. Ninety-nine of the 100 were American; of these, 14 were people of color. Eleven of the American interviewers were African-American. The remaining non-white interviewers included one Arab-American, one Indian-American and one Iranian-American. The study counted one international interviewer—Moisés Naím, the editor of Foreign Policy.
The study did not find a single U.S. Latino or Native American author or reviewer in either the Times or on After Words during the periods studied.
The numbers on gender were likewise unbalanced, with men the dominant presence in both outlets. In the Times Book Review, women made up just 13 percent of the authors of political books and 12 percent of the reviewers. After Words fared somewhat better, with women constituting 24 percent of the authors and 31 percent of the interviewers.
Among 231 reviewers and authors combined, the Times included just two women of color: PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill and history professor Bettye Collier-Thomas, both African-American authors. The Times published no women of color as political book reviewers. After Words featured women of color 11 times among the authors and interviewers on the show, accounting for 5 percent of the show’s roster; Ifill appeared twice, once as an author and once as an interviewer. (Women of color are roughly 16 percent of the U.S. population.)
The study also looked at the subject matter of the books reviewed. In both cases, books about international policy were the most prevalent, accounting for 36 percent of both the Times and After Words lists. The second and third most frequent topics on the Times list were economics (22 percent) and partisan/electoral politics (19 percent). (Books could be counted in more than one subject category.) On C-SPAN, books on history (27 percent) and military/espionage topics (19 percent) rounded out the top three.
Books pertaining to environmental issues were notably limited, accounting for 5 percent of the Times list and just 2 percent of C-SPAN’s. One of After Words’ two books on environmental themes was written by climate change denialist Christopher Horner (1/11/09).
The study looked specifically at the subjects of books authored or reviewed by women and people of color. On C-SPAN, more than three-quarters of the books with non-white (U.S. and international) authors—77 percent—centered on ethnic issues. For instance, Peniel Joseph (1/23/10), a Haitian-American Tufts University history professor, discussed his book Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama. Likewise, of the 15 people of color who were invited to host After Words, nine (60 percent) did so for books about ethnic issues.
In the Times, similarly, four of the six non-white authors represented wrote books on ethnic issues—for instance, William Julius Wilson’s More Than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (3/8/09). About two-thirds of the non-white reviewers discussed books with ethnic topics.
Women authors and reviewers were somewhat less focused on women or women’s issues. On C-SPAN, 10 of the show’s 24 female authors spoke about such books, like Cokie Roberts (5/18/08) and her book Ladies of Liberty. Of the 31 female interviewers on After Words, 11 of them spoke to authors of books about women.
In the Times, 27 percent of female authors wrote books about women, such as Sally Denton’s The Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas, a biography of the pioneering female politician (1/10/10). Of the 12 female reviewers in the Times, two of them reviewed books dealing with women.
Authors and reviewers/interviewers were not classified by left/right ideology, as such categories may be quite subjective, particularly with authors and critics who may not have taken public stances on a variety of political topics. However, looking at individuals on the Times and C-SPAN rosters whose ideological classification might elicit little debate, it appears that both outlets were able to achieve some measure of ideological diversity.
For instance, the Times featured left-leaning authors like Tariq Ali and Juan Cole, centrists like Leslie Gelb and Gregg Easterbrook, and conservatives like Richard Brookhiser and Norman Podhoretz. Like-wise, Times reviewers spanned the ideological spectrum, including Patrick Cockburn and Paul Hockenos on the left, Roger Cohen and Matt Bai in the center and Ross Douthat and Christopher Caldwell on the right.
After Words’ authors included left-leaning Tom Hayden and Matt Taibbi, centrists Cokie Roberts and Brian Michael Jenkins, and conservatives George Will and Andrew McCarthy. Among its interviewers were leftists Bernie Sanders and Robert Dreyfuss, centrists David Broder and David Ignatius, and conservatives Frank Gaffney and Peggy Noonan.
Ideological diversity is vitally important, but book discussions that depend so heavily on white male authors, reviewers and commentators do more than deny a full voice in the discussion to women and people of color, who together represent well more than half the population; they also deprive all readers and viewers of exposure to the variety of experiences and sensibilities that women and people of color would bring to the discussion.
There is as great a variety of views among women and people of color as there is among white men; Peggy Noonan no more represents all women than John Yoo does all Asian-Americans. This is not a reason to neglect gender and ethnic diversity, however; it’s a reason to include enough female and non-white voices that they can enjoy the same ideological diversity the New York Times Book Review and C-SPAN’s After Words seem to provide when it comes to white males.
Research assistance by Daniel de Corral.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a nonpartisan media watchdog organization. Visit http://fair.org for more information, or share your opinion about this story by writing to email@example.com. Republished in the Chronicle with permission from F.A.I.R.
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This story was published on August 12, 2010.