Cheers and Regards for the Week of July 19, 2010

If you ever get an e-mail from a journalist, there’s one portion of it you should pay attention to more than any other. No, it’s not the part where they’re asking you about the kids you’ve got making the t-shirts you sell; it’s the sign-off.

If it’s “Cheers,” you’re cool. You did OK. If it’s “Regards,” you pissed somebody off, and you better figure out how to fix things, quick.

We apply those same tenets here, every week.

CHEERS to American Journalism Review, Slate and the Nieman Journalism Lab for stating in no uncertain terms that long-form journalism can exist online and have readership. Sure, plenty of vocal non-readers on the web will declare long pieces too long and too boring, but with the right presentation, long work can find an audience. We’re glad some are sticking with the form. (MW)

REGARDS to Mississippi Public Radio for dropping the always-interesting interview show “Fresh Air” from its airwaves because of what the station’s executive director called interviews of an “explicit sexual nature.” We don’t know what version of “Fresh Air” they’re listening to — some kind of “Fresh Air After Dark,” we guess — but we want our local NPR stations to air that one. (MW)

CHEERS to 22 media organizations for siding with free speech, even for those who it would be easy to argue don’t deserve it. The organizations contend, through court documents, that Fred Phelps’ reprehensible Westboro Baptist Church had a right to protest at soldier funerals. It must have turned their stomachs to essentially side with those hateful morons, but free speech is free speech, no matter how terrible it is. (MW)

REGARDS to Raleigh-Durham International Airport for trying to eliminate newspaper racks because it was apparently inconvenient and unsightly for them to be there. Luckily, a federal appellate judge informed them last week that clutter is not a good reason to violate the First Amendment. (MW)

CHEERS to the Washington Post for engendering some institutional discomfort in the intelligence community with an upcoming series about infrastructural and defense growth over the last decade or so. That’s what investigative journalism ought to do — make pencil pushers squirm. (MW)

REGARDS to Gannett for trying to make page design into assembly-line work. On Tuesday, the United States’ largest newspaper publisher announced it would be moving page design into five centralized “hubs” and out of specific newsrooms. Because why should somebody live in the city for which they’re designing news pages, right? (MW)

REGARDS to the Daily Express for choosing to address the British Supreme Court’s recent grant of asylum to two gay men from Iran and Cameroon, who face imprisonment or death if they return to their home countries solely because they are gay, in a manner that is both juvenile and suggests that people will falsely declare themselves gay to avoid being deported. Amazingly, the coverage of the issue at the Express was positively progressive and praise-worthy compared to the way in which The Sun discussed it: by outing an asylum seeker who has already been threatened with death by his family and implying that he is falsely claiming to be gay in order to compete on the talent show The X-Factor. We haven’t linked to the Sun‘s article because even the links on their home page now redirect to an X-Factor-themed summary page. Huh. Wonder why. (DW)

CHEERS to British paper The Guardian for not one, but two extremely good articles on why the ways in which The Daily Express and The Sun have covered the issue of asylum for gay men and lesbians in the United Kingdom is homophobic and racist. (DW)

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