To those of you who complained that I was "phoning it in" because I've been taking a 5-minute break to have up-to-date posts for you to talk about while I'm frantically WRITING A BOOK...it gets worse. I'm going to be on real vacation between now and Aug. 11 -- completely away from the computer. So you're really on your own for the next two weeks -- I'm sure you won't digress into a long argument about the human waste elimination process or anything like that. Talk about, you know, McCain, Obama, baseball, sex...important stuff.
I feel bad because any newcomer expecting the "Best Blog" in Philadelphia is in for a real disappointment (even more than usual!). So, for any stray visitor, below are some links to what I foolishly consider to be some greatest hits:
I've never been very trendy, but there was one time in my life when I did find myself swept up by a trend, a big one. And so today I come here to confess: I am a charter member of that '70s show, a generation of starry-eyed idealists who became newspaper reporters all because of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
It all started in the summer of 1973. I wasn稚 a total geek when I was 14 -- just a total Watergate geek. I still remember getting home from shooting archery (badly) and swimming laps (slowly) at summer rec camp every day, and racing upstairs to our black-and-white set so I could catch John Dean痴 testimony to the Senate Watergate Committee.
The next year, on a family camping trip to the Catskills, I stayed up with a flashlight in my cot, pouring over the paperback edition of Richard Nixon痴 White House tape transcripts while raccoons foraged underneath. As I remember it three decades later, my first girlfriend even dumped me in the parking lot outside a showing of the film of �All the President痴 Men.� (Maybe that was a bit of foreshadowing -- associating Bob Woodward with disappointment.)
By the time that movie version of Woodward and Bernstein痴 reporting exploits came out in 1976, I had already made the irrevocable decision of a lifetime: To become a newspaper reporter. I壇 like to tell you about the day I blurted out, 的知 going to be just like Bob Woodward someday,� except it didn't exactly happen that way.
The Chinese characters really make it -- read the rest.
2. Where Are the Funerals?, Sept. 13, 2005.
We've seen stories about the larger clusters, like the nursing home where 34 elderly people were left to die. We've read lots of articles about the cavernous morgue in St. Gabriel, La., where bodies are said to arrive by the truckload. We heard today that the state of Louisiana had to hire a mortuary company because FEMA couldn't get it together to award a contract to process all the corpses.
We even saw a number today: 423 just in New Orleans (with more than 200 fatalities in Mississippi a seeming afterthought).
But we haven't seen a name -- not officially anyway. Not one single name -- the thing that turns an empty corpse back into a person. So far we've seen one story (in the Washington Post) that took a massive amount of reporting to come up with the life stories of five of the dead -- five lonely faces out of the hundreds.
So much death.
And not a single funeral.
It's been 14 days now. Where are the funerals?
Well, where are they? Read the whole thing.
3. Breaking news: Young woman meets sudden, tragic death, Feb 9, 2007.
This breaking news story is about the sudden, unexpected, and tragic death of a young woman, not to mention the family that she leaves behind.
Yes, people die every day, and too many do so before their time. But this woman was special, and the things that she did made an impact on all of us.
Oh, there were many things that this woman, so deserving of our undivided attention tonight, did not do. No, she didn't take off her clothes for a men's magazine for a big payday, work as "an exotic dancer" or marry a billionaire customer who was 63 years older than her. Nor did she spend most of her adult life pursuing that billionaire's estate in courtrooms from Texas to Washington, D.C., or record her life for a reality TV show, or abuse drugs, or give birth to a child whose paternity is the focus of a legal battle.
Frankly, we feel silly for even writing those things, because such a woman would clearly not be newsworthy.
Can you guess what blondiful celebrity also died that day? Read the whole thing.
4. An open letter to Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, April 17, 2008.
With your performance tonight -- your focus on issues that were at best trivial wastes of valuable airtime and at worst restatements of right-wing falsehoods, punctuated by inane "issue" questions that in no way resembled the real world concerns of American voters -- you disgraced my profession of journalism, and, by association, me and a lot of hard-working colleagues who do still try to ferret out the truth, rather than worry about who can give us the best deal on our capital gains taxes. But it's even worse than that. By so badly botching arguably the most critical debate of such an important election, in a time of both war and economic misery, you disgraced the American voters, and in fact even disgraced democracy itself. Indeed, if I were a citizen of one of those nations where America is seeking to "export democracy," and I had watched the debate, I probably would have said, "no thank you." Because that was no way to promote democracy.
When it comes to readership, this post was the equivalent of DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Read the whole thing.
And see you in two weeks!