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Cold Sun

Posted 9/3/2008

The most telling point of your excellent investigation into the retooling of The Baltimore Sun was the e-mail from Lee Abrams implying that news and information is the new rock 'n' roll ("Press Release," Feature, Aug. 20).

Apparently this mastermind never read Marshall McLuhan, the "media ecology" philosopher of the 1960s who proclaimed newspapers the "hot" purveyors of information while TV was the "cool" one. Looking at the new Baltimore Sun format, its "hot" print world has definitely been "cooled" down.

In our post-literate era of total self-absorption, and a target, affluent audience that worships at the altar of "cool," the Sun wants to secure a position within this vapid demographic. It also desires to attract the internet-addicted with huge visuals, easy reading, and abundant open space. The new Baltimore Sun resembles a web site.

While newspapers may have been blind-sided by the web--whose impact we are just beginning to feel in all aspects of our lives and political interactions--what I fear most is the union-busting that appears to be surfacing when nonunion web staff is pitted against dues-paying Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild members. What a foolish move! In an era of declining newspaper readership and shrinking advertising revenue it smacks of divide-and-conquer.

What is most unsettling, though, is the loss of newsroom staff. These folks don't just report the news, they ferret it out. What may not seem terribly important on first reading may have tremendous future impact--think about Watergate. When newspapers strive to be "rock 'n' roll" and emulate the "cool" media of TV and the internet (the jury is still out on the temperature of cyberspace), we all lose. People don't go into the newspaper business just to write; they go to investigate and uncover important information. This profession is vital to our safety, our security, and the direction we take as a community and as a nation.

Rosalind Nester Ellis
Baltimore

What a great article on The Baltimore Sun. I did notice Tanika White's byline gone. I assumed she was off at some fashion show. I sensed she was headed downhill when I saw more fashion stories than education. She was a good education reporter.

I agree with so many people that grabbing news off the internet is tough on print media. I'm the only one in my office who prefers a hard-copy paper to the internet. The net is for blogging and chatting about stories, in my opinion. I trash b magazine because it repeats the same stories in the Sun.

Keep the great stories coming, CP!

Sharon Wright
Baltimore

Pray for Obama and Good Job (Again) Brian

I enjoyed reading Brian Morton's articles because he continues to make me a critical thinker. Brian Morton's "Playing Defense" (Political Animal, Aug. 20) was a classic foreign-policy piece of good common-sense writing.

This sentence was a gem: "Another thing we have seen with Bush, who misses no opportunity to work the word 'freedom' into a speech, despite a limited grasp of its actual definition, is that once he has a goal, any new development, any change in the weather, any opportunity becomes yet another reason he should get what he wants."

As an Afrocentric feminist who will be voting for Barack Obama, I know that Obama is ready to be the next president and will give every citizen in America a sense that we do have human dignity to "change" this country to take care of all Americans. Yes, we can. Angels in heaven are already preparing the banquet.

In my cherished paperback edition of Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King Jr., by Stephen B. Oates, there are two quotes I love to read over and over.

"In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity." --Abraham Lincoln, 1862.

"Negroes must not only have the right to go into any establishment that is open to the public . . . but they must also be absorbed into our economic system in such a manner that they can afford to exercise that right." --Martin Luther King Jr.

Prayers will help Barack Obama become the first black president of the United States. All in agreement say "amen." I say "amen."

Free the mind. Know that what is taking place in America and in your community, because your thoughts could produce a tragedy of four more years of a George W. Bush-type administration.

Larnell Custis Butler
Baltimore

For Pete's Sake

How dare you call Pete Seeger cheesy ("Full Circle," Feedback, Aug. 13)! You want cheesy? How about ABBA, the Doors, the Bee Gees. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Anselm Hollo, Marlena Shaw, or Wayne Newton! Pete Seeger is not cheesy. And to quote the only good Elvis, "What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?"

Yeah, you have your cridicks who look down their noses at political art and music. You call it cheesy. Tell hundreds of thousands of working people around the world who heard the music of Pete Seeger and the groups he worked with--the Weavers and the Almanac Singers--that their music was cheesy.

Yeah, dear music cridick, would you go to a picket line of striking workers in the '30s when union was synonymous with Red and tell them the music Pete Seeger was playing was cheesy? Would you tell the McCarthyite and the HUAC Red baiters who vilified Pete Seeger that his music was cheesy? I don't think so.

Pete Seeger is part of a long line of protest singer/songwriters, like Woody Guthrie, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Holly Near, and Bob Dylan. And in the hands of other virtuoso musicians, these songs really shine. I will bet my next paycheck that if I could bring Nina Simone back from the dead she could sing those songs that our cridick found so cheesy so well his eyes would water like Niagara Falls.

You call these songs cheesy. Well, when 27 GIs in the Presidio stockade staged a sit-down strike to protest conditions in the stockade and the Vietnam War, they weren't singing "The End" by the Doors. They were singing "We Shall Overcome." When an Iranian students association had a May Day rally in Washington, D.C., what was the song that all the participants from all the different countries sang in their own language? It wasn't "I've Gotta Get a Message to You." It was "The Internationale."

You self-righteous music cridicks never lose a minute putting down political music. You laugh and say, "How cheesy, workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains." Go ahead and laugh--until one day these workers will stand up inspired by the music you call cheesy and break their chains. You won't be laughing then!

Yeah, dis on Mr. Music Cridick. Laugh at Pete Seeger, who is older than most of us, for still having a little light of justice that he still has in his heart. Laugh all you want--you never were on a picket line or a march where people who only see justice when they look it up in the dictionary get moved and inspired by these songs. And if Pete Seeger dreams of a day when people put an end to war--I dream this dream, too. If Pete Seeger wants the light of love for peace and justice to burn, I along with millions of others around the world will in the words of a better poet than myself return the favor with "an affirming flame" and Main Street will have a Shining Path!

Alan Barysh
Baltimore

Corrections: Our recent feature story on cutbacks at The Baltimore Sun ("Press Release," Aug. 20) contained additional errors. Departing reporter John Fritze's first name was misspelled. In addition, it appears that the Sun lobby displays no portrait of Editor Tim Franklin, nor are the photographs displayed on the second floor of the Calvert Street building 6 feet high. City Paper regrets the errors.

Also, esteemed contributing photographer Rarah took the photograph of the Dream Nation Marching Unit that graced the cover of the Aug. 27 issue, not esteemed contributing photographer Frank Klein. Sorry about that.

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