Friday, October 14, 2005

Media Notes Plus

MAIL TALES. Contrary to what we said in recent blog, Terez Limer is still at the Daily Mail, and is still listed as Assistant Editor; but she evidently is working afield as reporter (of Catskill government doings), and doing it well. Meanwhile, Chris Smith and Deborah Travers are gone. Heavy lifting now is done by Jim Planck (up and down the mountain) and Antonio D’Arcangelis ( north end scribe). In Wednesday’s Daily Mail pages 2, 3, 6 & 7 were wholly occupied by canned stuff, as was Thursday’s issue (except for page 3 obituaries). On Wednesday and on Thursday, the “Greene County” page contained a Columbia County story. MEDIA FUTUROLOGY. Let’s suppose that GreeneLand’s only daily newspaper gets folded into Columbia County’s Register-Star. What then? Speculations: *The merged daily bears a new name, such as Hudson.Valley News. Coverage of GreeneLand gets thinner than ever, since Columbia County is more populous and affluent. *The Daily Freeman, based in Kingston, expands GreeneLand coverage fractionally. *Alternatively, publisher Ira Fusfeld ventures to establish in GreeneLand a sibling of his Columbia County semi-weekly, The Independent. *Linda Fenoff, publisher and editor of what is now marketed as The Greenville Press, pursues ambition to enlarge coverage of county events--even transmuting her weekly into The GreeneLand Press. *The Albany TimesUnion’s publisher discards his policy of shunning the capital region’s southern reaches. To that end, he puts news bureaus into Columbia and Greene counties, with reports being fed into a special southern edition of the TU. Readers would get some local news along with exposure to metropolitan journalism. *The feisty Ulster Publishing group takes a fling at GreeneLand. Publisher Geddy Sveikausas makes bold to add a GreeneLand Times to his five-paper stable (New Paltz Times, Woodstock Times, Saugerties Times…). The experiment could falter but there’d be some good feature stories on the way, as displayed on the company’s ulsterpublishing web site. *One of those enterprisers decides to take a different tack, namely, to establish a free semi-weekly tabloid that is mailed to every GreeneLand address, is available at every counter, and is crammed with local news and features. Its comprehensive, costly backyard coverage is funded by substantial advertising. And the advertising support comes in because all GreeneLanders would receive the paper and--unlike the throwaway Mountain Pennysaver--most of them would read it. NEWS RHETORIC: SPOOKERY. Media coverage of the Hussey drunk-driving case here yielded noteworthy examples of tricks that journalists play. One trick was performed in a lead sentence (by Ariel Zangli, Daily Freeman, 9/29), saying
Greene County Sheriff Richard Hussey is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in a Catskill Town court.
The author of that sentence could have been parsimonious, as journalists are taught to be, by leaving out the “expected.” Instead, she invoked an entrenched journalistic convention, fraught with daunting assumptions, whereby the reporter pretends to disclose, and hence to be able to detect, the contents of mental states that exist independently of host-organisms such as human beings. By means of that device the author, coupled with the publisher of what passes for straight news, recommends without espousing a named mind-set. Prudent respondents will not take such verbiage at face value. When given ostensible information about what is expected, understood, reckoned, estimated, or believed to be the case, they will recognize devious, metaphysically goofy locutions whereby senders disguise recommendation as exposition. SOURCERY. Another trick, or bundle of tricks, was played by video journalist Dan Bazile with these words:
Sources tell News Channel 13 [that] Lipstein was forced to fire the chef. Lipstein denies the charge, but still wants the public to know his former employee acted on his own.
Those two sentences offer a big bowl of food for thought about journalistic rhetoric. Voiced in the context of news-giving, they suggest, without asserting or implying logically, that: *What Bazile was told could not have come from just one person, such as the chef. If the source was the chef, surely the author would have said so directly. *The plural sources did not just make a statement; they told Bazile something; that is to say, they uttered words that were both truth-valuable and true. (If he had wanted to forestall the latter inference--to distance himself from it--Bazile could have done so, with equal brevity, by way of alternative verbs such as say or claim). *What those elusive sources told Bazile truly was in the nature of an accusation; it is a “charge.” *Information about those sources is not urgently needed for getting things right. We know that because when they cite anonymous “sources,” journalists often use modifying terms which allude to position (“legal,” “White House,” “senior official”) or credibility (“usually reliable”). This practice has been deepened lately at The New York Times, with reporters taking pains to indicate why a cited informant cannot be identified by name. Accordingly, when a reporter cites adjective-less “sources,” she suggests that we don’t need more information. Prudent respondents would recognize that Bazile has stacked the deck against the man who denies the “charge” which those multiple “sources” made. MEANWHILE… LIVELY CATSKILL WEEKEND. You could spend a busy day tomorrow and Sunday in Catskill. Start with the Farmers & Artisans Market at Catskill Point, from 9:30 am. to1 pm. Music by Lisa & the Leasebreakers (country/folk). Special feature: bulb, craft & bake sale by Catskill Garden Club. Stroll or drive up to Beattie-Powers House (123 Powers Place) for the Potluck for Friends and prospective Friends of that gracious site; bring an easy-to-serve dish or $10. (For more information: 943-4751 or 943-0246). Then slip down to Main Street for Walk-About, featuring new shows at art galleries: The Wilder at 375 Main, above Townhouse Antiques; The M at 350 Main (“American Tonalism: Poetically Correct”; Verso at 386 Main (20th century American designs); the Arts Council at 398 Main, lighting “Fire” and “An Artist on Fire” downstairs and up; The Open Studio at 402 Main (“Stories”: books+drawings+ collages +assemblages confected by Julie Chase, Dina Bursztyn & Arthur Tieger; and, at the top of Main, next to Brik gallery, still there and still marvelous: is “Celebration of 1000 Families” photographs from all over the world. (If you miss it, fly to Lake Geneva, Switzerland, where same exhibition is being held under United Nations auspices). Stay for dinner and then either a movie (“Wallace & Gromit” or “Elizabethtown” at new owner P J Maisano’s Community Theater. (Alternatively, motor up to Tannersville in time to see, from 8 pm., the Jose Limon Dance Company perform at the high school. For reservations: Catskill Mountain Foundation, 263-4908, ext. 202. Then on Sunday, connect with “Kindred Spirits,” a two-part program organized by trustees of Thomas Cole National Historic Site. It’s based on the title of the1849 painting by Asher B. Durand that Alice Walton bought recently for $30 (ahem) million. The picture shows poet William Cullen Bryant and painter Thomas Cole in foreground of a grand Catskills landscape. The program will illuminate the Bryant/Cole friendship, Cole’s poetry, and the school of painting. Starting at 9 a.m., there’s a guided hike to the several GreeneLand sites that Durand blended into the setting for “Kindred Spirits.” Starting at 2 pm., talks will be given by Harrison Hunt, keeper of Bryant’s home on Long Island, and by Linda Ferber, vice-president of the New York Historical Society and expert on 19th century American art. Those talks will be episodes of the Sunday Salon Series held at Cedar Grove (218 Spring St, Catskill), where Cole lived and worked. 943-7465 or info@thomascole.org. As for Monday (10/17), the big treat could be the open meeting, from 7 pm., at the Senior Center (former Irving School annex), on “Everything you ever wanted to know about Catskill Central School District.” By school trustees, superintendent and staff members, all will be revealed..

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for your coverage of the events taking place on October 15 & 16 .. it has been a raining, blistery week .. but hopefully the sun will shine.
As for the Albany Times-Union, widely read in our area, your point is well taken. You will observe the extensive coverage the newspaper provides for Saratoga, and their usual indifference to its many readers in Columbia and Greene Counties. And, yet we patronize this publication, while they ignore us.
In my opinion, the Press, published out of Greenville, and hopefully, Catskill in the future, offers the most promise of being our 'hometown' newspaper.
Again, thanks for your consistent coverage of Main Street events.
Harold M. Hanson, Verso

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Anonymous said...

I was astounded to learn that Mr. Hussey has received an unrestricted drivers license and has been given a new county car, which does not have the Sherriff designation on it. Frankly, I'm amazed that despite having an out of town prosecutor assigned to deal with this drunk driving arrest, that Mr. Hussey's treatment is so far removed from what John Q. Public would have to face. While I don't condone the method, I am glad that the arrest even happened and hope the voters remember in 2006 who currently leads the county law enforcement.

Anonymous said...

Because it is on my mind ..

On October 17, The Daily Mail published a profile article on the effort of two Greene County residents to renovate Main Street properties. An interesting article. Also in that issue, and a subsequent editorial the next day, a number of people were mentioned as contributors to the renewal of Catskill as an appealing place to work and live.
In my opinion, the article written by a writer I respect, seemed narrowly focused, and obscured the contributions being made by a host of others. In particular, I thought about Rita Landy who many, many years ago opened her B&B Inn on Main Street, and Bob and George's Townhouse Antiques, long before this recent wave of renewal got underway.
As the proprietor of 'Verso', I also note the large number of other indviduals who in more recent times are investing their time, energy and money in our local renaissance: The Garden Cafe,
The Open Studio, Bell's Cafe,
The M Gallery, and many others.
A broader brush stroke in The Daily Mail's editorial would have been appreciated.
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