Category Archives: Cheers and Regards

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.

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?

Cheers and Regards for the Week of August 23, 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 dead-people voter registration drive; 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 the Guardian for a level-headed op-ed piece regarding criminal prosecutions of HIV positive people for having unprotected sex. In cases like this, intentionality is almost impossible to prove, and prosecutions do little to encourage people to get tested for HIV or take responsibility for their own sexual safety, and further stigmatize those who are HIV positive as diseased pariahs. (DW)

REGARDS to the Guardian, however, for a headline that needlessly trivializes HIV by comparing it to verucas and repeating the claim that HIV is no longer a fatal disease. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford top of the line health care, yes, HIV is a manageable disease. That’s a big “if” in most of the world, including developed nations like the US and UK. (DW)

CHEERS to the New York Times and the AP for taking a stand against using the phrase “Ground Zero mosque” to describe the proposed Islamic community center two blocks from the old World Trade Center site. The politics of the debate over the construction don’t even matter; it’s simply an inaccurate title. (MW)

REGARDS to the Toronto Sun for using scare quotes around the word “molested” in the headline to their article about a model who was sexually assaulted at a Star Wars convention. Unwanted sexual touching is unwanted sexual touching, regardless of whether or not a woman is dressed as Slave Leia. (DW)

CHEERS to AOL’s Daily Finance for pointing out just what sort of articles Demand Media is really putting out onto the web on eHow.com and other sites.  I guess somebody, somewhere would need to know how to calculate age from a birthdate. But can someone who’s four years old read an article like that? (MW)

REGARDS to KAKS radio in Arkansas, which fired on-air personality Renee Gork for wearing a University of Florida hat to a Monday news conference. The issue apparently wasn’t whether Gork was lacking objectivity; rather, she just didn’t have the right kind of subjectivity for “Hog Sports Radio.” And it only makes sense, right? For only fans and alumni of a school to be able to report on its sports teams? (MW)

Cheers and Regards for the Week of August 16, 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 all those bodies you dug up to steal their fillings; 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 The New York Observer‘s Media Mob column for its look at just what Time magazine’s gut-punch cover story on the war in Afghanistan will mean and how its writer might have stood to benefit from the war continuing unabated. (MW and DW)

REGARDS to GQ for their recent profile of Senate candidate Rand Paul, focusing on his days at Baylor. It’s your typical look at the “kooky” activities politicians get up to in their youth; pot-smoking, naughty student newspapers, kidnapping women. It’s troubling that a national magazine would treat a major felony as just a harmless college prank, and not a serious red flag for someone aspiring to public office.  (DW)

CHEERS to (and trust us, we’re as surprised to be saying this as you are to read it) the Huffington Post, for their article rightfully calling out the double-standard in the media for running, uncritically, the attempts by right-wing groups to make Judge Vaughn Walker’s sexuality an issue in regards to his ruling on the Prop 8 case. Walker may, or may not, be gay; he isn’t saying, but that hasn’t stopped the press from referring to him as openly gay. The double-standard comes into play when you consider that, just a few months ago, these same news outlets refused to name the anti-gay politicians who were outed in the film “Outrage.” Apparently journalistic ethics only require keeping a public figure’s personal life private when they’re gross hypocrites. (DW)

REGARDS to the Herald Times in Bloomington, Indiana, for a sports column essentially calling for a lawsuit against the Chicago Sun-Times for a series of stories in which the Chicago tab reported on apparent demands for pay in college basketball recruiting. True, the Sun-Times may have made a mistake reporting a rumor of expected payments, but their reports were seemingly confirmed by a number of sources who understandably were not named. Bluntly, there’s no other way the Sun-Times could have reported what many believe to be an under-the-table reality in college sports. Certainly nobody would have gone on record about it. (MW)

CHEERS to Newsday for adding pages and hiring journalists, wouldya believe it. In a dark time when even university journalism programs (this one’s my alma mater) are cutting mercilessly, it’s a momentary relief to see at least one organization looking to improve through methods other than attrition. (MW)

REGARDS to Golf Digest for what looks on its face to be a baldfaced cash-grab. They’re bringing back Tiger Woods’ tips column after an eight-month hiatus, despite Woods’ on-course struggles and the fact that few people, even golfers who read the magazine, regard Woods the same way they did before his rampant infidelities came to light this soon after they were so prominently in the public eye. And Golf Digest is likely banking on that. (MW)

Cheers and Regards for the Week of August 9, 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 housing development you’re building exclusively for sex offenders; 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 the New York Times for sticking by its story that alleges Google and Verizon may be working together to speed up the Internet for certain companies willing to pay for it. The story was a huge hit to Google’s reputation as a proponent of net neutrality and they’ve been working hard to fight against the bad PR the story has brought. But they haven’t completely refuted what the story says. (MW)

REGARDS to the L.A. Times, for choosing to go solely to anti-gay groups for reactions in their article about the overturning of Prop 8. Because, really? Do we still have to spell out why this is a problem? (DW)

CHEERS to Slate’s Jack Shafer for his unsolicited advice to Newsweek‘s new owner, Sidney Harman, including keeping his vanity-mogul hands off the newsroom, letting the magazine look into the organizations with which he himself is involved and figuring out what to do with the magazine after he dies other than handing it over to his congresswoman wife. (MW)

REGARDS to the Chicago Sun-Times for jumping on the celeb-bashing bandwagon by tweeting, “Only in America can wrongfully accused people spend decades in jail while Lindsay Lohan is out in weeks” as if the two were even remotely equivalent. Wrongfully accused people rotting in jail is the number one problem in the American justice system; Lindsay Lohan going from jail to rehab does not crack the top five million. (KL)

CHEERS and REGARDS to Forbes for its new digital overhaul. On the one hand, they’re really looking forward by getting all their journalists to start blogging and “brand” themselves as personalities. On the other, requiring every writer to take on these new responsibilities could really detract from the quality of, you know, magazine articles. Which are pretty important. (MW)

Cheers and Regards for the Week of August 2, 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 bill in the Arizona legislature looking to deport all immigrants and descendants of immigrants; 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 The New Yorker for its look at CNN’s baffling new lineup, for its examination of the decline of CNN, and by extension, cable news, in the past 20 years, but also how a network could have gotten to the point of giving Eliot Spitzer, a guy most people know for sleeping with a high-priced call girl several times, their 8 p.m. slot. (MW)

REGARDS to the American Spectator for deigning to even print Jeffrey Lord’s columns questioning whether the beating death of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod’s relative was a lynching or not in an ever-spiraling-downward effort to discredit her. Okay, Jeff, let’s say it wasn’t a lynching. Instead, let’s call it a racially motivated murder-by-beating on the courthouse steps by deputized lawmen. Sound better to you? (MW)

CHEERS to commentators from all over, including at the conservative Spectator itself, for calling Lord out on his, let’s call it what it is, bullshit. At the Washington Post, columnist E.J. Dionne finally kind of snapped over the whole thing and said, rightfully, that it’s time to stop listening to conservative crackpots. We would suggest giving up on crackpots of all types. (MW)

REGARDS to the Investors Business Daily for running an op-ed piece exhorting Americans to violence over the  “unpruned power” of the Obama administration. It’s one thing to criticize politicians, but to speak approvingly over violence against the government based on paranoid maybes that would make even the most ardent Tea Partier back away nervously is beyond the pale. (DW)

CHEERS to Mississippi Public Broadcasting for putting Fresh Air back on after making the ridiculous decision to pull it last month. Of course, we have to qualify our cheering because it’s now on at a later time and with an “adult content” notice in case anyone’s virgin ears are soiled again by Louis CK talking about having sex with his shirt on. (MW)

REGARDS to new RollingStone.com editor Nick Catucci for declaring the website a snark-free zone. On the one hand, it seems like a fresh take on writing for the web, when so much of it is so cynical. But on the other, do you really want to read an entirely straightforward and genuine online piece about, say, what it’s like backstage at a KISS show? (MW)

Cheers and Regards for the Week of July 26, 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 surprise you put in the Big Mac special sauce; 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 the Washington Post for a masterful investigative series on the massive buildup of a separate and all top-secret shadow government focused on national security following the 9/11 attacks. The series raises numerous questions — from whether agencies are doubling or tripling the same work to the cost to what exactly these agencies are doing — and is presented on the web very nicely. It’s must reading.

But we must also give REGARDS to the Post for, as commentators such as Glenn Greenwald at Salon have pointed out, seemingly ignoring the work of other journalists who have also brought these issues to light.

CHEERS to the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel for their work with the 92,000 documents made public Sunday by WikiLeaks showing a grimmer picture of the war in Afghanistan than the one being presented by the White House. Administration officials are obviously unhappy about the leaks and this whole ordeal could end up being Pentagon Papers II, but they made a hell of a story out of it.

REGARDS to commentators at Politico and the aforementioned Mr. Greenwald at Salon for jumping directly into punditry and a political guessing game rather than taking a moment to let the actual content of the documents sink in. The White House will do what it does, but we’re looking at a supposedly real snapshot of a to say the least troubled war here.

CHEERS to Slate for pushing Politico, and by extension, other online news sources, to institute corrections policies. Everyone should have to endure that sort of embarrassment, right?

REGARDS to news outlets like ABC for trying to get inside Andrew Breitbart’s head after the Shirley Sherrod fiasco. What’s the point? Is seeing the inner thoughts of a shit-stirrer and compulsive liar all that valuable?

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)

Cheers and Regards for the Week of July 12, 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 how you managed to eat through a bank vault; 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 the Cleveland Plain Dealer for its stunning front page from the morning after LeBron James announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. It tells the whole story in one image, a one-word headline and some tiny text, showing the real impact James’ decision to leave will have on a city that’s had it rough the past several years. (MW)

REGARDS to CNN for firing its Middle Eastern affairs editor over one tweet. Certainly, Octavia Nasr could have done a better job of explaining herself, and saying she had “respect” for a recently deceased Hezbollah leader who said some terrible things about Israel was a very bad choice of words, but an outright firing still seems like an overreaction to a basic foot-in-mouth incident. (MW)

CHEERS to entertainment blog The Wrap for its piece on content farms and how they’re flooding the web with cheap, first-draft-like articles and paying writers about 25 bucks per story. That’s marginally less than someone would make stringing for a newspaper! (MW)

REGARDS to the AP for, in an article about U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro’s recent ruling that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, choosing a comment from the Traditional Values Coalition spokes-person Andrea Lafferty in the name of “balance.” The Traditional Values Coalition, it should be noted, has been certified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, making them about as authoritative and unbiased a source for quotes on gay rights issues as the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan is on affirmative action. (DW)

CHEERS to a group of bloggers at ScienceBlogs for taking a stand against having their work put on the same level as a corporate advertising blog. A number of bloggers for the site revolted after news of a sponsored PepsiCo blog broke, and ScienceBlogs (thankfully) dropped the idea later. Now posts such as “Mountain Dew: Too Extremely Delicious?” will have to live only in our minds. (MW)

REGARDS to Boston Herald columnist being the headlining draw at a fundraiser for the New Hampshire Republican Party. It’s one thing for a prominent journalist to have an opinion and express it publicly; it’s another thing to use that persona to build up politicians’ war chests. (MW)

Cheers and Regards for the Week of July 5, 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 knock-off Rolexes you were selling at the sheriff’s office; 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 the AP for stepping up with new staff and dedicated positions to cover the crisis in the gulf. Now if they could just take the same approach to all the other news that’s going on in the world. (MW)

REGARDS to Boing-Boing, which has, on the basis of a few comments on their site and a very biased reading of an IM chat log, decided to speculate on the gender identity of PFC Bradley Manning, now identified as the person responsible for leaking classified documents regarding the killing of civilians by U.S. soldiers in Iraq to Wikileaks, and further speculates that Manning’s decision to leak the documents may have been caused by emotional instability related to gender transitioning. At the best of times, this kind of speculation is baseless and not at all germane to Manning’s case. But when gay and lesbian soldiers are working to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule, suggesting that a high profile violator of military code may have been motivated in part because they might be transgendered seems highly irresponsible. (We were going to post this one last week, but then the McChrystal thing blew up.) (DW)

CHEERS to my former employer, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, for picking a real journalist as its new executive editor. J. Todd Foster, former editor of the Bristol Herald Courier led that paper to a well-deserved Pulitzer earlier this year and he’ll likely do well at the TFP. (MW)

REGARDS to the LA Times for disguising an ad for the King Kong ride at Universal Studios as a news section. Many confused Angelenos were found frantic in the streets over the supposed giant ape attack, or so we imagine. (MW)

CHEERS to the researchers at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and some journalists who read the report to look back at the shaky rhetoric commonly used to discuss waterboarding in the last decade. For more than 70 years, reporters regularly called the practice torture. Then from 2002 to 2008, that just plain stopped. That First Amendment sure did us a lot of good, didn’t it? (MW)

REGARDS to Gannett for trying to make online news profitable with an old model. We tried the pay walls at least a decade ago, folks, and it just didn’t work. Time to think of something different. And while we’re at it, two bucks for a day pass to a Gannett news site? Will anybody pay that? (MW)

Cheers and Regards for the Week of June 28, 2010

In this week’s edition of Cheers and Regards, we’re going to change the format a little and take a look at the story that seemed to dominate the news cycle of much of last week: Rolling Stone writer Michael Hastings’ profile of U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the now former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The piece caused so much discussion, created so much fallout (President Obama accepted the general’s resignation just two days after the RS piece went up online, a day before it was even available in print), and was such a perfect example of both good and bad journalism that we thought it deserves a full column.

CHEERS to Hastings for nabbing some amazing quotes, both from McChrystal and his aides. Some questioned whether Hastings used quotes given to him off-the-record, but he seems to have been pretty cautious with his attributions.

REGARDS to Rolling Stone for seemingly encouraging all their political writers to simply ape the style of their most famous political reporter ever, Hunter S. Thompson. Hastings’ piece reads like a copy of a copy of Thompson, all swagger and casual cursing, with none of the personality.

CHEERS to Hastings for making the piece work as a profile. Once you get past the eyebrow-raising quotes about Vice President Biden and the French, there’s a lot of context about McChrystal’s education, his career up to now, his involvement with how the story of the friendly-fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman was presented to the public and his possible turn of a blind eye toward prisoner abuse in Iraq.

REGARDS to Hastings for seemingly giving in to hero worship (or maybe it was Stockholm syndrome, since he was stuck with the General and his aides for almost a month rather than the planned two days due to the volcano eruption earlier this year) at various points. He reports with what seems like considerable admiration when McChrystal brags that no one in the room at a Paris luncheon could beat him up. Plus, he says he looks like Christian Bale.

CHEERS to those commentators who pointed out that McChrystal was the only U.S. official who had a real and productive relationship with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. His removal makes that already rocky relationship with the Afghan regime even rockier.

REGARDS to Hastings for his apparent lack of understanding regarding just what sort of reaction his story would bring. You thought your story, the subhed of which said McChrystal publicly questioned his bosses, wouldn’t make some pretty big waves with those bosses?