S is for journalist George Seldes

George Seldes served on the board of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting ,

Somehow, it wasn’t until the past few months that I heard of journalist George Seldes. This brief biography serves as a emphatic primer.

“The story of George Seldes is the story of the Twentieth Century. He has written 21 books and is the archetype of the independent and crusading journalist. He was a witness to and occasional participant in some of the most important events of this century.”

His interview with Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, the supreme commander of the German Army during World War I was censored by the Allies. He reported from the Soviet Union for a year in 1922-23 until he was expelled “for not bowing to its censorship of the news.” He was also eventually bounced in Italy after reporting on the rise of Benito Mussolini. He witnessed the fascist dictatorship in Spain.

“Dissatisfied with censorship and the Right-wing bias of the American media,” Seldes and his wife Helen Larkin “started In Fact, the first publication in America solely devoted to press criticism. It was published from 1940 to 1950 and had a peak circulation of 176,000 before being Red-baited out of existence.”

From the Spartacus Educational bio: “One of the first articles published in the newsletter concerned the link between cigarette smoking and cancer. Seldes later explained that at the time, ‘The tobacco stories were suppressed by every major newspaper. For ten years we pounded on tobacco as being one of the only legal poisons you could buy in America.'”

I found his some of his observations, as noted in Wikiquotes, appropriate today. “Never grow weary of protesting. In this sensitive business of dealing with the public which depends on faith and good will, protest is a most effective weapon. Therefore protest.” – Lords of the Press (1938)

And from the same source: “The failure of a free press in most countries is usually blamed on the readers. Every nation gets the government—and the press—it deserves. This is too facile a remark. The people deserve better in most governments and press. Readers, in millions of cases, have no way of finding out whether their newspapers are fair or not, honest or distorted, truthful or colored….”

From the Wikipedia: “Having both staunch admirers and strong critics, Seldes influenced some younger journalists. He received an award for professional excellence from the Association for Education in Journalism in 1980 and a George Polk Award for his life’s work in 1981. Seldes also served on the board of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).”

George Seldes was born in Alliance, New Jersey, on 16th November, 1890 and died at Windsor, Vermont, on 2nd July, 1995, aged 104.

For ABC Wednesday

Ellmers v. Aiken

It’ll be interesting to see what type of representative NC-2 wants.

112_rp_nc_2_ellmers_reneeEarlier this month, reporter Ashe Schow of the Washington Examiner wrote “an article about the GOP’s poor messaging on the ‘war on women’ narrative. I posted some comments from Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., who said GOP men need to bring their messages ‘down to a woman’s level.’

“Ellmers called me a ‘liberal woman reporter’ and said I had taken her quote ‘completely out of context.’

“Below are her full comments from the event…, along with the audio of her segment. Continue reading “Ellmers v. Aiken”

Fair and balanced news

Here’s something I DON’T understand: the European Union Court of Justice’s “right to be forgotten” ruling.

NewsMusing on what passes for news these days, I was taken by this story: The distorting reality of ‘false balance’ in the media. It’s saying, essentially, that if you have two people on the news debating whether the Earth is round or flat, you unnecessarily elevate the flat earth argument to be equivalent.

I haven’t written much about either the awful shootdown of Malaysian flight or the Israel-Gaza war, other than I found it depressing as all get out. (What does “depressing as all get out” mean? Continue reading “Fair and balanced news”

May Rambling: Faraway fire; faux news; second chances

I was noting in particular two Billy Joel songs, ‘Get It Right The First Time’ from 1977 and ‘Second Wind (You’re Only Human)’ from 1985, and how I prefer the latter sentiment.

Chuck Miller has taken on the task of promoting the work of his “fellow Times Union community bloggers, until that day when the Times Union itself will restore the ‘Best of Our Blogs’ feature to the print edition of the paper.” And one of those “well-written articles” was mine. Merci, Chuck.

The specter of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory looms over the garment factory that collapsed last month in Bangladesh, killing more than [1100] workers…. But the world is smaller than it was 102 years ago. Tragedies of this sort in the Third World aren’t engendered only by forces in their proximity, and they won’t be averted unless the responsibility for change is embraced globally. Also, Is Rana Disaster Bangladesh’s Triangle Fire? I wrote about the Triangle fire HERE.

Meryl’s quite reasonable concern: ‘truth’ is becoming ever-more illusive with advancing photoshop technology and our modern vehicles of ‘news resources’ and communication. Related: Since Twitter hasn’t built a correction feature, here are 3 things journalists can do instead. And Who’s The Biggest Liar?
Continue reading “May Rambling: Faraway fire; faux news; second chances”

Book review: JOURNALISM by Joe Sacco

Many black Africans travel across the Mediterranean Sea, attempting to get to Europe, but end up in the tiny island nation of Malta.


Cartoonist/war correspondent Joe Sacco’s new book, JOURNALISM (Metropolitan Books; on sale June 22, 2012) is doing an interesting thing, addressing wars and other conflicts in recent human experience in a graphic form, while attempting to operate in the discipline suggested by the book title. Moreover, he generally succeeds in his mission, though it must be said that the writer himself may be his harshest critic.

Most, but not all, of the work had been published before, in a variety of venues. “The War Crimes Trials,” for instance, was commissioned by Details “during the short stint when Art Spiegelman [creator of the historic graphic novel Maus] was the magazine’s comic editor. Sacco’s access Continue reading “Book review: JOURNALISM by Joe Sacco”