Inexplicably, an insightful, intelligent, and supremely readable 3-part Special Report on the state of American journalism that appears in this month’s Atlantic Monthly was not chosen as the cover story. Instead, the editors chose to highlight an open letter to George W. Bush about his administration’s torture policy. It was a decision that had the unfortunate effect of placing W’s face on the cover of a national magazine again, which, for me anyway, has two things in common with torture itself: No. 1, viewing W’s smug, folksy, down-home (in other words, dumb-ass) countenance is, in itself, a form of torture; and No. 2, it is something I had hoped would never, ever, ever happen again. But the editors’ decision aside, the Special Report on the Media is one you should not miss.
- Dissecting the media coverage in the weeks following President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Mark Bowden explains how virtually all the major news organizations in America have abdicated their news gathering responsibilities to the partisan propagandists of the blogosphere—and in so doing, are threatening to redefine (not in a good way) what journalism means to both the society at large and the individuals who still work as, or aspire to become, real journalists.
- In an enthusiastic recap of his experience watching Al Jazeera, Robert D. Kaplan explains how the Qatar-based international news network has established itself as a useful, energetic, broad-based, and far-reaching alternative to the news networks of the West.
- In an excerpt from a new book, The Curse of the Mogul, two academics and a media consultant strip the veneer off media moguls’ claims that the web and citizen journalists are killing their businesses. They instead indict the moguls themselves for the questionable decision-making and business practices that have in fact led to the tenuous fates of their media empires.
And perhaps my favorite part of the series is the John Cuneo cartoon (below) that accompanies that last article, which—rightly, in my opinion—neglects to endow the unapologetic conservative media emperor Rupert Murdoch with a rather crucial bit of anatomy. (Look closely.)