Letters for July 7-13, 2005
Investigate and Obliterate
More grist for the antibrutality mill: Lucky Trevor Aaronson. He has the writing skills and investigative tools to handle an anaconda, and he has found the perfect bottomless cesspool, the Hollywood Police Department ("Hollywood's Finest," June 30).
Never will he have the heartbreak of finding layer upon layer of innately satirical grunge only to suddenly run out of juicy material. That will never happen.
Read and Obliterate
Cuz those weeds are a killer: I wanted to give a big "thumbs up" to New Times for the recent article on Old World climbing fern ("Attack of the Killer Weed," Wyatt Olson, June 23).
It is really important to me and the many other biologists and land managers that the public knows what Old World climbing fern and the myriad other invasive exotic plants and animals are doing to the natural areas of our fair state. We need to do everything we can to stop the worst of them. It's chilling to know that right after overdevelopment, the invasion of exotic species is the greatest threat to our native plant and animal communities.
I work as a biologist at a wildlife refuge on the west side of the Everglades. My refuge is closed to the public, and it's about as undisturbed as it gets, and yet I find Old World climbing fern growing in even the most remote swamps. The biological control work being done helps me sleep at night. Now, as much as I'd like to keep writing, I have weeds to go kill, and I can feel them growing, growing...
Cruisin' for Obliteration
Send her to Afghanistan: Sadly, Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver's June 23 letter responding to Edmund Newton's "Adios, Ink-Stained Vets" (June 9) confirms the self-destruction under way at FIU's once respected journalism program. Instead of addressing forthrightly the serious issues of lost values and lowered standards at the school, Dean Kopenhaver responds to the story in three hackneyed ways.
First, attack the messengers: Call them "disgruntled," a cheap and pejorative buzzword carefully chosen to spin the belittling image of "small-minded and vengeful" -- without directly saying as much (because she couldn't defend it). Call them "grizzled old reporters who haven't written a word in more than a decade" to make their criticism impotent. This is a mighty accomplished group of disgruntled educators and journalists who have left the school. They were reporters, and then they were editors, and after that, they were dedicated teachers who have devoted the past 10 or 20 years to sharing their experiences. Their criticisms should be taken seriously. Yet she characterizes them as old and out of touch -- ironic stuff coming from someone who is of similar age to the people she damns as old and who is also far less accomplished than they are professionally... and who is removed from her own small journalism experience by nearly four decades. If she believes what she says, then she too should step aside.
Second, blame the help and suggest (without exactly saying it, because it too wouldn't be true) that the messenger was complicit in the wrongdoing: In defending the administration against charges of censorship, Kopenhaver says an instructor (who, by the way, was later named chair of journalism) pulled the student articles. She says he did it "after consultation with faculty members including Kevin Hall." That statement is a disturbing breach of journalistic standards because it was deliberately crafted to convey an untrue message -- that I supported the decision on censorship. I was not even informed about the censorship until students met with me to complain after it occurred.
Third, and this is truly Talibanesque for the head of a journalism school, wag a condemning finger at the newspaper for publishing the story: Kopenhaver says in her letter that New Times was "trying to undermine" the school and that the proper role of the newspaper would have been to "join with us in our efforts."
That's the role of journalism? In what country?
Via the Internet
Save the Children
Remember Watergate? In his June 9 column, "Steal This Prose," Chuck Strouse condemns papers for hiring 16-year-olds. Carl Bernstein, of course, was precisely the same age when he got his first real gig and wasn't yet 30 when he got Watergate going.
What Strouse fails to understand is that good, honest journalists will be good, honest journalists using the best techniques and experiences available to them. Their youth, and the relative youth of their methods, isn't the problem.
The only thing that breeds bad young journalists is bad old journalists, and there seem to be plenty of the latter to go around. You know what I mean: the kind of people who'll smear a group without using sufficient evidence or counterperspectives.
Steve L. Weiss
Editor and Publisher
Right play, at least: In the review for New Theatre's Romeo and Juliet, the reviewer states that the fights were staged by Ricky J. Martinez when, in fact, they were choreographed by certified fight choreographer John Manzelli (Stagebeat, June 23). Manzelli is an exceptionally gifted artist from South Florida, and it would be a shame if he didn't get the credit he deserves.
An Even-handed Thanks
He's an inspiration: I just wanted to send my greatest thanks for publishing "Minor Chords" (Night and Day, June 16) and informing me about the Evens' playing in Miami! I didn't find anything about this show in any other publication. Thanks to you, I got to meet Ian, who has been one of the biggest inspirations in my lifetime. New Times is the greatest!
West Palm Beach
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