Letters

Jason Gross
Manhattan


ADIEU

Chisun Lee's article on City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez ["Margarita Says She Knows Best," February 27] ends with Lopez saying, "I didn't come to this job to be a coward." I think this sums up her political life, whether the issue is term limits, housing, fighting for Charas/El Bohio, or taking on exploitative greengrocers.

My union has been involved with community groups in the Lower East Side who have worked to rid the neighborhood of sweatshop-like conditions in the greengrocery industry. Lopez has been instrumental in the formation of union contracts that have helped workers in these stores receive better wages, benefits, and working conditions. These workers are recent immigrants and are among the most underpaid and exploited in the city.

If Lopez has taken a stance against term limits, I am sure that she has come to this position after reflection on how best to help people in her community, not because she has landed a well-paying job. Having her as a member of the City Council has helped make this body one that responds to the needs of the people in the Lower East Side.

Ernesto Jofré
Manager, Local 169, UNITE
Manhattan

Editor's Note: Ernesto Jofré passed away on March 5. He had been battling cancer for several months.


EXSPECTATORANT

As a journalist at the Columbia Daily Spectator, I can't let Nat Hentoff's irrational criticism of Columbia University's journalism school ["Gag Order on Future Reporters," February 27] go uncontested. An e-mail sent to students did indeed tell them that Al Gore's lectures here would be "off the record." On this basis, Hentoff claims students were "unequivocally instructed that they were under a gag rule."

As Hentoff should know, requesting that a speaker's private remarks not be quoted as if made to the public is widely considered the prerogative of any potential journalistic source. This voluntary point, common in journalistic ethics, shares nothing with the draconian "gag rule" image that Hentoff conjures up. Hentoff mentions that Associate Dean David Klatell said the notion that the e-mail established a gag order was "mistaken," but then Hentoff dismisses this as spin and repeats the mistake.

I love seeing Hentoff's ire turned toward censorship and free speech issues, but I hate to see him substituting his own chutzpah for issues of actual substance, especially when the Spectator, in its own reporting on the issue, got it right the first time.

Ben Wheeler
Columbia Daily Spectator
Manhattan

Nat Hentoff replies: If this policy was not instituted only for Gore, why did Dean Tom Goldstein tell the February 9Wall Street Journal, after objections from students and the press, "We had no intention of preventing students from talking to the press afterward." And, if this is standard journalism ethics, then why did the other journalism schools at which Gore is lecturing refuse to make his comments off the record?


DANCING IN THE DARK

While I certainly enjoyed reading Deborah Jowitt's flattering review for the bopi's black sheep performance at Danspace ["Hit the Deck," February 27], I'm sure that someone out there was less than thrilled by it. Deborah Abramson, one of the "excellent dancers" that Jowitt refers to, must have been quite chagrined to see that her performance was attributed to "Deborah Abrahamson." She, like many other performers, put in months of hard work to prepare for the performances. A simple check of the program could have confirmed the correct spelling of her name.

April Salazar
Brooklyn

Elizabeth Zimmer replies: Deborah Jowitt did check the program, but misread Abramson's name; other recent errors on the dance page include Jowitt's misstatement of the name of Twyla Tharp's newMozart Clarinet Quintet K. 581, and the dimensions of Tharp's new studio—100 by 65 feet ("Flying Blind Into Brooklyn," February 20), and my failure to register, in my Footnote about Robert Tracy's book on Isamu Noguchi (March 6), the fact that the sculptor died in 1988.


PRINTED MATTER

Michael Feingold is extremely well-informed on many subjects, so I was gob-smacked by his blithe assertion ["Over 30," February 27] that "nobody knows why" the number 30 is journalese for "the end." When I worked for the Fleet Street newspapers back in the 1970s, it seemed that everyone knew the reason for this piece of typographic shorthand.

In the days of hand-set type and manual typewriters and Teletypes, a reporter would type "XXX" at the end of each news piece to mark its finish. However, because there was no correction fluid, the fastest way to delete a typo was to type "XXX" over it. This caused confusion, so to make the "end" message absolutely clear, reporters and rewrite staffers stopped using "XXX" and used its Arabic-numeral equivalent instead. To avoid further confusion, the custom began of bracketing the number. The sequence of characters "-30 -" is recognized to mean "end of story" and cannot be mistaken for anything else, since this sequence has no other meaning.

Fergus Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Brooklyn


DUNKED

Ben Osborne did wonderful work in kicking the New Jersey Nets when they're down in his article "Net-Zero at the Half" [February 27]! Why didn't he mention the George Steinbrenner dig that five reporters could beat the Nets?

Fact is, their All-Star center Jayson Williams has retired, starting guard Kerry Kittles hasn't played a game, leading rebounder Jamie Feick has missed over half the season, and star forward Keith Van Horn hasn't been healthy. Kenyon Martin, Kendall Gill, and Lucious Harris have also been injured.

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