Patterico's Pontifications


Klavan on the Lack of Films About the War on Terror

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:45 am

Andrew Klavan is back in the L.A. Times. He decries the lack of films depicting the war on terror in a positive light:

In all fairness, moviemakers have a legitimately baffling problem with the nature of the war itself. In order to honestly dramatize the simple truth about this existential struggle, you have to depict right-minded Americans — some of whom may be white and male and Christian — hunting down and killing dark-skinned villains of a false and wicked creed. That’s what’s happening, on a good day anyway, so that’s what you’d have to show.

Moviemakers are reluctant to do that because, even though it’s the truth, on screen it might appear bigoted and jingoistic. You can call that political correctness or multiculturalism gone mad — and sure, there’s a lot of that going around. But despite what you might have heard, there are sensible, patriotic people in the movie business too. And even they, I suspect, falter before the prospect of presenting such a scenario.

You’d think that moviemakers would see the success of a show like “24” and be eager to produce a movie along those lines. Klavan says it isn’t happening and explains why.

Read it all.

More Pictures from Iraq

Filed under: General,War — Patterico @ 6:40 am

Bill Ardolino has more random pictures from Iraq here.


L.A. Times to Work on Its Web Presence: Good Move? Or Too Little Too Late?

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:03 am

You may remember the L.A. Times‘s “Manhattan Project” from this October 2006 post of mine. As the New York Times explained it, the Manhattan Project was a group of “three investigative reporters and half a dozen editors [dedicated to finding] ideas, at home and abroad, for re-engaging the reader, both in print and online.”

When the Manhattan Project was announced, I said:

If I could give the paper only one piece of advice, it would be this: expand the web site. Open up every single story to comments and trackbacks, just like a blog post. For a paper that claims to be looking for ways to “re-engag[e]the reader,” this is a no-brainer.

The Web and interactivity are the future. Stop fighting it and embrace it.

Today, an article in the paper’s business section announces:

Los Angeles Times Editor James E. O’Shea unveiled a major initiative Wednesday to combine operations of the newspaper and its Internet site — a change he said was critical to ensuring that The Times remains a premier news outlet.

O’Shea employed dire statistics on declining advertising to urge The Times’ roughly 940 journalists to throw off a “bunker mentality” against change and to begin viewing as the paper’s primary vehicle for delivering news.

I like the sound of that.

The change appears to have been spurred by the “Manhattan Project” — although that project was apparently renamed in the interim, by someone who realized how dumb it sounded as an initiative for an L.A. paper:

The changes announced Wednesday by O’Shea were driven by a committee of the paper’s journalists who were appointed in October by O’Shea’s predecessor, Dean Baquet.

The Spring Street committee, named for the Times’ downtown address, produced a scathing report that has been seen by only a few of the newspapers top editors and executives. “To put it bluntly,” the seven-page report found, “as a news organization, we are not web-savvy. If anything, we are web-stupid.”

Well, yes, you are.

I’m happy to see the paper is taking my advice about focusing on the Web (I use the phrase “taking my advice” loosely, as I assume it’s only coincidence). But I’m underwhelmed by the specific improvements suggested. The article talks about things like poor staffing, creaky technology, and the paper’s inability to get stories up quickly. There is much discussion of the alleged need for multimedia presentation.

While those may be valid issues, I suggest that the paper take a couple of immediate steps.

One is easy: when you have a story that refers to source documentation, post that documentation in full on the Web site. If you’re discussing a speech, memo, court decision, transcript of an LAPD Board of Rights decision, or other document, post the whole thing on the Web.

My other suggestion is tougher and riskier, but it’s critical: open up all pieces to comments and trackbacks. Every last one.

I know, I know. You’re worried about opening the floodgates. What about spam? What about idiots, nincompoops, trolls, racist commenters, and the like?

Welcome to the Internet.

You’ll have to devote some people to controlling that stuff. The L.A. Times web site is a big operation, with something like 40 times the number of unique visitors per month as my site, and something like 300 times the number of page views I get. If you open all of that up to comments and trackbacks, you’re looking at a lotta spam. I understand.

But if you want interactivity, that’s the price you pay.

The editors are showing some promise, by recognizing the need to open up Washington Post style chats with the staffers. That’s a good step — but real interactivity demands more. Much more. It demands comments and trackbacks.

There is no substitute.

Read the whole article for a perspective on where the paper is coming from — and what it’s overlooking.

Oh yeah . . . by the way, guys: can you finally fix the site so I can read all the articles on my Treo? I mean, there’s no reason for you to care about me– but I guarantee you that I’m not the only person with this issue.


Greg Tinti Discovers The Power of the Jump

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:01 pm

Greg Tinti shows how the Los Angeles Times spins information about connections between Iran and Iraqi forces fighting U.S. troops.

[A]s many of us in the blogosphere know, journalists do have a funny habit of putting information that’s inconvenient (you know, stuff that’s usually favorable towards the Bush adminisration) deep into a story so it doesn’t mess up the impression they’re trying to establish with the headline and the lede. See, they know full well that most readers only read the first hundred words or so to the get the gist and then move on. And by establishing a narrative in the beginning, they then can bury the other stuff and not be accused of journalistic negligence.

The L.A. Times does this?!?! Say it ain’t so!!!

Nice job by Tinti, who is referring to a little technique I like to call The Power of the Jump. Read his whole post for an excellent takedown of The Times — and an unflattering comparison of the paper with (heavens!) Michael Isikoff.

Bill Ardolino Returns to U.S.

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:47 pm

Bill Ardolino is in transit back to the U.S. but still has several more Iraq posts in the works. I’m glad he’s out of there, and I’m looking forward to the rest of his posts.

You’ll Have to Find Someone Else to “Swift Boat”

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 8:31 pm

We won’t have Kerry to kick around in the 2008 presidential campaign.

I’ve said all along, and I’ll repeat it now: we’re probably looking at President Hillary. Second guess: President Edwards.

Put ’em together on one ticket and they can’t be beat.

Scoff all you want. That’s how it looks to me.

(Link via Allah.)

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden says “there is no flip that can’t be flopped.”

Nifong Gets New Ethics Complaint

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:20 pm

Nifong’s been hit with a new ethics complaint. This one’s meatier than the earlier one, as it addresses his alleged suppression of exculpatory evidence. Allah says:

I’d bet my first child that he won’t disbarred.

I really feel like teasing him about that line, somehow, but I can’t find the right phrase. I’ll just leave it at this:

Don’t be too sure, my friend. And don’t go too far out on that limb.

UPDATE: Also via Allah is this link to the complaint itself.

Your Kind Not Wanted

Filed under: General,Race — Patterico @ 6:53 am

The Congressional Black Caucus says that it was founded to allow its members “to address the legislative concerns of black and minority citizens.” So a newly elected representative asked to join. He is a “liberal” who ran “in a majority African American district.” He wanted to address the legislative concerns of the black and minority citizens in his district, and thought this would be a good way to do it.

He is also white.

The message got to him that they really didn’t want his type in their group:

Tennessee Democrat Stephen I. Cohen made a novel pledge on the campaign trail last year: If elected, he would seek to become the first white member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Now that he’s a freshman in Congress, Cohen has changed his plans. He said he has dropped his bid after several current and former caucus members made it clear to him that whites need not apply.

“I think they’re real happy I’m not going to join,” said Cohen, who succeeded Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., in the Memphis district. “It’s their caucus and they do things their way. You don’t force your way in. You need to be invited.”

Cohen said he became convinced that joining the caucus would be “a social faux pas” after seeing news reports that former Rep. William Lacy Clay Sr., D-Mo., a co-founder of the caucus, had circulated a memo telling members it was “critical” that the group remain “exclusively African-American.”

Other members, including the new chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., and Clay’s son, Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., agreed.

“Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. … It’s time to move on,” the younger Clay said. “It’s an unwritten rule. It’s understood. It’s clear.”

I wonder what would happen if they wrote down that rule.

(All links via Allah.)


Keeping An Eye on E&P

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:42 pm

Allah is continuing to keep an eye on E&P for an acknowledgement of Michelle Malkin’s findings on the non-destroyed mosques. Yesterday’s caveats still hold, but as time passes, E&P’s silence will become more meaningful. And like Allah, I have a hunch that the silence will be lasting.

Two Libel Cases Destined To Go Down In Flames (Thank Goodness)

Filed under: Buffoons,General,Law — Justin Levine @ 9:08 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

Two prominent libel cases in the news.

First off, today will be the court hearing to toss out the defamation lawsuit against – one of the more high profile Internet libel suits going on right now. I made an early prediction that this lawsuit would lose from the start – and made a gentleman’s bet with a commenter who felt otherwise. (Be sure to read the comments section in the post – which has seemingly become one of the main Internet gathering points for debate about this case. But be warned, it gets ugly!)

Related links here and here. Interesting comments here. Meanwhile, The Happy Feminist is admittedly “unamused” at my misogyny. 

I’ll confess that I have some sympathy for the Plaintiff in the lawsuit. But I’m still very glad to know that his lawsuit will likely fail because of the bigger picture regarding threats to Internet freedoms. 

Such sympathies do not extend to Gary Condit, the Frankenstein Monster of libel lawsuits. He has regretfully risen from the grave once again. This time,


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