What a wonderful night for journalism, at the end of the Academy Awards, to see “Spotlight” honored as best picture. The film shows how the Boston Globe pursued a history of abuse by priests in the region.
Yes, journalism is still being practiced at some of the surviving journals in the United States, the ones that devote precious time and money and staff to finding stuff out, and publishing it.
However, my pride in colleagues is tempered by the realization that not enough people read the information – and opinion – in the surviving fringe of American journalism.
I occasionally talk at colleges and high schools and generally get blank looks from students when I ask how many people read newspapers.
Even on line? I ask. Some nod yes, but cannot give examples. They like things that jump around. But apparently so do their elders.
A frightening swath of Americans seem to think Donald Trump knows how the world works. Because people do not read newspapers, in print or on line, they do not know that he is generally regarded with a shrug and a smile in New York, the town that knows him best. Oh, that guy.
This reality was brought home recently by two articles in The New York Times about Trump’s reputation (marginal) in New York real estate circles, and how he bled investors in a golf resort in Florida.
This is who the guy is; this is how he operates. But unless people delve into the details – that is to say, read – they will never know. This is where we are going.
Here are two stories most of America will never read:
Now Trump is threatening to suppress newspapers when he becomes President. Perhaps he will send his Brown Shirts to crowbar the printing presses.
Here’s another look at Trump, from 1990, by Marie Brenner in Vanity Fair -- the attention-deficit playboy-builder we knew before he unleashed his public bully.
I also recommend two current articles on Hillary Clinton and Libya, stemming from what is obviously weeks of work:
One last thing about journalism: Margaret Sullivan is leaving her post as public editor at the Times to become a media columnist at the Washington Post. In my now-outsider’s opinion, I wish the Times had found a new gig for Sullivan, the best public editor the Times has had.
I hope these links work in your system. If not, the stories are easily looked up. As a proud alumnus, I am glad the Times values its work by charging for it on line. It costs a lot of money for the Times and Globe to cast their spotlight.
More and More, I Talk to the Dead--Margaret Renkl
NASHVILLE — After my mother died so suddenly — laughing at a rerun of “JAG” at 10 p.m., dying of a hemorrhagic stroke by dawn — I dreamed about her night after night. In every dream she was willfully, outrageously alive, unaware of the grief her death had caused. In every dream relief poured through me like a flash flood. Oh, thank God!
Then I would wake into keening grief all over again.
Years earlier, when my father learned he had advanced esophageal cancer, his doctor told him he had perhaps six months to live. He lived far longer than that, though I never thought of it as “living” once I learned how little time he really had. For six months my father was dying, and then he kept dying for two years more. I was still working and raising a family, but running beneath the thin soil of my own life was a river of death. My father’s dying governed my days.
After he died, I wept and kept weeping, but I rarely dreamed about my father the way I would dream about my mother nearly a decade later. Even in the midst of calamitous grief, I understood the difference: My father’s long illness had given me time to work death into the daily patterns of my life. My mother’s sudden death had obliterated any illusion that daily patterns are trustworthy.
Years have passed now, and it’s the ordinariness of grief itself that governs my days. The very air around me thrums with absence. I grieve the beloved high-school teacher I lost the summer after graduation and the beloved college professor who was my friend for more than two decades. I grieve the father I lost nearly 20 years ago and the father-in-law I lost during the pandemic. I grieve the great-grandmother who died my junior year of college and the grandmother who lived until I was deep into my 40s.
Some of those I grieve are people I didn’t even know. How can John Prine be gone? I hear his haunting last song, “I Remember Everything,” and I still can’t quite believe that John Prine is gone.
Jan. 30, 2023