The Paranoid Public
I loved Knute Berger's piece on complaints about media cowardice and inaction [Mossback, "E Pluribus Stupid," May 19]. When we get letters about it—and, believe me, we do—I always think this: "Yeah? If the media have so failed us on this story, how the hell did you know about it?" Virtually all of the so-called uncovered outrages we so often hear about have been reported on to a fare-thee-well by big, mainstream newspapers, magazines, and, often, radio and TV. It's easy to see that the accusers view The Media as a monolith. What's hard to see is what they really expect. News organizations run stories; they have no responsibility for the complacent, ignorant, and often paranoic public who make no effort to read, see, or hear them.
Co-host, NPR's On the Media
Mossback's recent harangue of us lowly media consumers ["E Pluribus Stupid," May 19] was in my opinion exactly right but was done somewhat in the hyperbolic—perhaps even formulaic—style he indicts. Not to mention the overall sensationalist format the Weekly tends to shroud itself in. So how does a media outlet conduct their necessary business without the added titillation? Good question. Even the Weather Channel has had to redirect airtime from the straightforward reporting of the weather to include spicy docudramas that exploit our apparent need to be entertained by extreme weather events. (Too bad if I just want to see the boring weather forecast.) My advice to Mossback: Practice what thou preach. Report objectively, even passionately, the important news items without hype (the glib humor is acceptable). But don't blame me if circulation declines—I'll probably be tuning in to Fox TV.
Blair Witch Hunt?
Better take this column with a grain of salt [Mossback, "E Pluribus Stupid," May 19]! Knute Berger writes about the responsibility of the public to stay informed . . . what a novel idea. Two things in his column caught my attention. I accept the reality that all reporting has some kind of bias; even if "just the facts" are reported, someone decided which facts to include. But just how much time does he think the average resident in the U.S. has to devote to researching the news? More importantly, I wonder why he cited The New York Times' Jayson Blair, a young African-American reporter, instead of USA Today's Jack Kelley, a middle-aged white reporter, as an example of "screwing things up"? There are all kinds of possible explanations; maybe the simplest is the best—that's the story the news world chose to play the most, making it the most readily available in his mind.
Big Bro's Economics
There's an old saying, and it's pretty darn accurate, that says, "If it doesn't make sense, there's a dollar in it." The government's investigation of Bev Harris' Web site, blackboxvoting.org, will certainly have the effect of keeping some people from viewing it ["www.bigbrother.gov," May 19]. Who wants to end up in the federal government's files? That will effect a more "positive" outlook for Diebold's success in marketing their machines, and what a success it would be! It goes without saying in our very ethical, moral political environment that some political figures will not be benefiting from what might be termed "trickle-back," a distant relative of that economic villain commonly known as "trickle-down."
Be Careful, Webmasters
After reading "www.bigbrother.gov" [May 19], I am once again confused why people do not take better precautions to safeguard their computer logs. Logging Web traffic beyond a few days simply does not make sense if you are a webmaster who intends on protecting the identities of your readership. It is simple to set up log rotation, a method of breaking up logs by date automatically, and then delete logs older than x number of days old. Be mindful to not include them in your backups. Unless your site is being abused, do you really need to be logging at all? The issue of IP addresses being recorded in the database along with comments and informational submissions can be handled with minor coding changes that would prevent that data from being captured and stored. Why are these Web authors not taking these precautions to safeguard their readership? Is it a lack of know-how, or are they simply naive?
If you really need to maintain logs for long periods of time, consider storing them encrypted and offshore.
As a webmaster, you have the ability to post how-tos and frequently asked question (FAQ) lists that can educate your readership on how to secure their privacy while reading and submitting to your site. You can encourage them to use anonymous proxies and offshore temporary e-mail addresses.
Webmasters who do not take precautions have no viable way to protect the identity and usage patterns of their readers.
Taste Of victimization
We appreciate Andy Ryan's reporting on radio talk-show host Mike Webb's complaint against the Seattle Police, and Mr. Webb's courage in pursuing his complaint ["A Radio Host Is On the Err," May 19]. While we don't want to discourage his outrage, we hope Mr. Webb and Seattle Weekly readers understand that the unacceptable behavior he described was a relatively mild example of police misconduct. Everyone who believes his story should give as much credence and concern to complaints by African Americans, Latinos, and other people of color of much more egregious victimization at the hands of police. Racism is rampant in almost all police departments in the U.S., and is evidenced in Seattle by (among other things) African Americans being about 22 times more likely to be arrested for drug law violations than whites. Other much more unacceptable examples are the violence and repression by police against antiwar/antiglobalization protesters, the WTO police riot, domestic violence by police, and the thousands of people killed by police in the U.S. in the past decade.
We also must take exception to the characterization of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) as being "quasi- independent" from the Seattle Police Department. Given that the OPA is not elected, does not have subpoena power, and its budget is part of the SPD's, we suggest that "quasi" should be replaced by "pseudo." In addition to pursuing his complaint, Mr. Webb could use his stature to expose the true extent of the epidemic of police brutality or spearhead a drive for a truly independent civilian review board (CRB) to investigate/prosecute police misconduct cases. And while CRBs often become ineffective, they are a better goal than a simple "I got my justice" finding. We ask all victims of police to make common cause with the biggest victims.
Dan DiLeva, on behalf of the Seattle Affiliate of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality
Major crime here, "contempt of cop" ["A Radio Host Is On the Err," May 19]. The proper response is to lower the eyes, bow, back away, and profusely apologize to the uniformed elite because he's so special. Keep in mind his job is dangerous, but nowhere near as dangerous as a lowly cab driver, another they enjoy hassling.
Larry E. Bigham
While your SIFF Guide [May 19] this year contained some good information and picks, the fact that it was not a pullout was extremely disappointing. Since this year's guide is not in a form that is conducive to easily looking up a film by title, your guide will be recycled and quickly forgotten.
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