Letters for June 30-July 6, 2005
Free Weekly No Pest
But keep it outta the Glades anyway: I was glad to read Wyatt Olson's June 23 feature story, "Attack of the Killer Weed." It was a thorough review of the exotic pest plant, Lygodium. I was especially happy to learn that there is extensive research under way on a moth for biological control. Lygodium is rapidly overtaking our natural areas and parks, including tree islands in Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
At the 25th Annual Conference of the Florida Native Plant Society, in Melbourne, the dangers of invasive exotics received a lot of discussion and were on the conference program. I circulated Olson's great article to the full board of FNPS as an excellent update.
West Palm Beach
The dean's just a flack: In her June 23 letter to New Times, Lillian Kopenhaver, dean of Florida International University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, wrote: "We have revitalized a school that became outdated under the old administration."
One of the key issues of the article was the recent disembowelment of the writing program of FIU's School of Journalism, a program that won high praise from accreditation teams who put it under the microscope three times over 12 years. It is now being replaced with an approach that didn't work when I took over leadership of the program 20 years ago -- teaching writing across the curriculum -- and will not work any better today. I asked top editors and writers from the newspaper business -- none old, all "grizzled" -- to develop a new approach. They came up with a system that demanded ever higher standards as the students pursued their course of study; it was a tough but effective system. Watering down those standards obviously appeals to administrators at a university where budgets are driven by student enrollments.
What would be almost amusing were it not such a sad illustration of shameless spinning by public relations veteran Kopenhaver is that all this is being done in the name of revitalizing a school that had allegedly become outdated. It is incongruous with the judgment of the chair of the last accreditation team that visited the school. He told the president of FIU less than three years ago that his journalism school was "a topnotch national program."
Given the "revitalization" now under way, I doubt that the next accreditation team will share that view.
J. Arthur Heise, Founding Dean Emeritus
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Florida International University
Newton's a Dupe
Although, weren't there several disgruntled former profs? I'm afraid that Edmund Newton's June 2 article, "Adios, Ink-Stained Vets," took a disgruntled worker seriously and made a story out of it. I attend the Journalism School. There is more to this story. For example, New Times neglected to say that the website for the old writing test the school used was having problems for months. Students couldn't study because the site was down. A new writing test is a welcome change. Had New Times taken the time to interview more than one student, you would have had a different article.
Via the Internet
For these teens: I'm very sorry, but I have no pity for Nazish Ahmad, the young woman who was described in Chuck Strouse's June 9 column, "Steal This Prose." I teach elementary school in California and have seen a dramatic increase in dishonest behaviors in 9- and 10-year-old children. About half of my class this year knowingly lied, cheated, or plagiarized on a regular basis. There was little remorse.
If the paper enables or encourages this behavior by not providing adequate consequences, they will be responsible for setting a sad precedent.
Debra J. Sarver
Via the Internet
He has a wonderful manner: Thank you very much for Gail Shepherd's colorful and professional June 2 review of my new restaurant, Shore ("Feminine Mystique"). It is a pleasure to read the words of a witty and keen journalist.
May I respectfully ask you to correct some touchy misinformation? Your article states that I and my partners left Sopra in debt, which is a complete falsehood. Please let me briefly explain. I created the original Sopra concept with one former partner, the Depierro family. They contributed to the financial side, and I handled the design, concept, management, and marketing of the restaurant. This was about four years ago. After ten months of operation, I left the company with my management team. It was the Depierros who closed the restaurant. As I pride myself on my financial and professional reputation in the community, I cannot have my name and new restaurants be joined with the later Sopra or the Depierros in any way.
Thanks so much for listening to this sad story.
Via the Internet
In an April 14 review of an exhibition of works by Michelle Newman, one piece was misidentified. The correct title is Peter S. Melendy.
Call 'Em the Best
Bob Norman took first place among columns in general-interest newspapers under 100,000 circulation at this past weekend's National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference in Texas. The judges cited his work in showing corruption at the North Broward Hospital District. Night Court columnist Courtney Hambright took an honorable mention in the humor category.
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