Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oct. 14: Media Sniglets On Newspaper Endorsements, Tim Russert and the Newseum, Erin Andrews, Rush Limbaugh and the NFL and "Winning" a Nobel Prize

By Sylvia Gurinsky

*The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is planning not to endorse political candidates. In an editorial the other day, the paper said to readers: You can make up your own minds.

Readers can and do make up their own minds, but they like to hear how editorial boards think. An endorsement doesn't necessarily mean that a reader will agree or disagree, but with a newspaper's still-major role as a community touchstone, it's an important statement.

A newspaper endorsement of a political candidate (or the occasional statement that the bunch that's running is so bad, the newspaper can't endorse any of 'em) is also usually well thought-out - as opposed to millions of words of opinion online these days that pass for fact.

Other newspapers, including The Miami Herald with presidential races, have tried the no-endorsement idea and ultimately reversed course. The reason: These opinions are important.

The AJC should reverse course as well. There are too many ill-informed opinions about elected officials out there. Newspapers still provide informed ones, and they're needed more than ever.

*Being added to the mystifying and overly expensive structure in Washington, D.C. known as the Newseum is a reconstruction of the office of Tim Russert, the late host of NBC's "Meet the Press."


Did he do anything more special than CBS anchor Walter Cronkite or "60 Minutes" creator Don Hewitt, whose offices I could see in the Newseum? Or ABC's Peter Jennings, who also died prematurely? (Disclosure: I was a Peter Jennings Fellow at the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia last year.)

Plus, all of them were lifelong, full-time journalists. Russert was a political worker who switched to news during the 1980s, part of the "revolving door" that has increased and raised questions about ethics and closeness to sources.

The Newseum has already drawn criticism for its high admission prices and for veering from what made it so popular when it was located in Virginia. If they're going to recreate something, let it be from a more deserving journalist.

*Good column today by Tracee Hamilton of the Washington Post about her own experiences with a stalker:

I agree with her comments about Erin Andrews. Folks, Andrews is the victim here. Period.

*The National Football League should say an unequivocal "No" to any ownership, even partial, by Rush Limbaugh of one of its teams (in this case, the St. Louis Rams).

Some might remember that Major League Baseball threw out Marge Schott as the owner of the Cincinnati Reds after she made anti-Semitic comments. That was one instance. Limbaugh insults most Americans, and most of the world, on a daily basis.

He is toxic. ESPN already tried him, and that didn't work. The NFL should stay away.

*Finally, a style point: How many journalists have said that President Barack Obama "won" the Nobel Peace Prize?

Though people, groups, etc. are nominated for the Nobel Prize, it technically isn't a contest. Authors, scientists and so forth are "awarded" a Nobel Prize. That's the way it should be written.

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