Cheers and Regards for the Week of August 30, 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 your belief that you’re the white reincarnation of Martin Luther King Jr.; 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 Courtland Malloy at the Washington Post for his thoughtful column about how various news outlets have used — or tried not to use — the word “nigger” in their coverage of Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s use of the epithet and subsequent resignation from her radio show. We can’t say it better than he does: “If race relations in America are so bad that we can’t look at a word, then we are doomed.”

REGARDS to Sidney Harman, Newsweek‘s new owner, for his statement that the news magazine is looking for an editor with a “fundamental respect for the business aspects of the operation.” We’re willing to give Harman the benefit of the doubt and believe that he meant the editor simply needs to be aware the a news magazine has to make a profit, but an editor who’s obsessed with the bottom line, or worse yet, starts worrying about what advertisers want when it comes to coverage, could harm Newsweek irreparably.

CHEERS to Jack Shafer at Slate for listening to his bullshit detector. He dug into the statistics of the number of search-and-rescue missions in National Parks and found that the New York Times‘ assertion that cell phone and GPS technology have let more park visitors into trouble is off the mark.

REGARDS to a group of 15 health reporters for taking all-expenses paid trips to Washington for a Pfizer-funded seminar on cancer. Sure, it’s gotta be tough to get papers to foot the bill for seminars these days, but is it really worth giving up your ethics to attend one?

CHEERS to Columbia Journalism Review for its examination of the weird amalgamation of real news and celebrity tabloid that is the Huffington Post. The only thing they’re missing is the dubious-to-dangerous science reporting.

REGARDS to the O.C. Register for spreading its resources too thin. They’ve reassigned their longtime classical music critic to the celebrity beat to cover the likes of Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan. It’ll cut into his classical music coverage by at least half, he says. But who needs to hear about that junk when we could have more stories about celebrities?

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