The crisis in local journalism has become a crisis of democracy

The paucity of reporters has triggered an invisible power shift toward elected officials. A Pew Research Center study of Baltimore showed an increase in local stories based on press releases from elected officials. The trends in journalism exacerbate the divide between the coasts and the rest of the country. In 2014, almost 1 out of 5 U.S. reporters worked in New York, Washington or Los Angeles, compared with 1 in 8 in 2004.…

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Superman Comic about Sympathy and Hope

Just in case someone out there could use it, here’s a powerful comic that emphasizes the power of sympathy (written by J. Michael Straczynski, creator of my second favorite TV show). No sunshine and rainbows, no victim-blaming, no finger-pointing — just humane compassion. (Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.) Superman on sympathy and hope

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What About “The Breakfast Club”?

I made three movies with John Hughes; when they were released, they made enough of a cultural impact to land me on the cover of Time magazine and to get Hughes hailed as a genius. His critical reputation has only grown since he died, in 2009, at the age of fifty-nine. Hughes’s films play constantly on television and are even taught in schools. There is still so much that I love in them, but lately I have felt the need to examine the role that these movies have played in our cultural life: where they came from, and what they might mean now. When my daughter proposed watching “The Breakfast Club” together, I had hesitated, not knowing how she would react: if she would understand the film or if she would even like it. I worried that she would find aspects of it troubling, but I hadn’t anticipated that it would ultimately be most troubling to me. -Molly Ringwald, New Yorker

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I am shocked — SHOCKED — to find that TV journalism is scripted, shallow eye candy.

Don’t trust the scary bad interweb. Do trust us, your local TV talking heads, who will do all the scary thinking for you!   Seeing local TV devote air time to discuss fairness and accuracy in journalism is a good thing. But when scores of newscasters read word-for-word the exact same statement, which blames social media, complains that “some media outlets publish these same fake stories,” and warns about “some…

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What’s an environmental issue? — Gus Speth

I don’t know the provenance of this quote attributed to Gus Speth, which affirms the role of the humanities in a STEM-obsessed world, but I did find this interview, conducted by Steve Curwood. “You know, what’s an environmental issue?” And if the answer is air pollution, water pollution, climate change…then we’re really right where we’ve been. But what if an environmental issue is something that has a big effect on…