Letters

LETTER OF THE WEEK
For dignity

Sydney Schanberg's examination of the debt journalists owe their sources ["Accounts Payable," Press Clips, June 22-28] raises interesting questions about the intersection of personal conscience, a free press, and the free market. I believe that as Deep Throat, Mark Felt rendered, at great personal risk, a noble service to our nation. But his recent unveiling by his family cheapened that contribution. I cringed when this now frail man, who resisted self-aggrandizement when he was able, was seemingly trotted out to pay his grandson's law school tuition. An education fund to which Woodward, The Washington Post, and others might contribute to honor Felt would offer him more dignity than selling off his diminishing recollections piece by piece.

Carolyn Jackson
Upper West Side


Hip-hop spectrum

"The Cotton Club" by Bakari Kitwana was a thought-provoking article for me as a young white female in the South who enjoys the hell out of rap music [June 29-July 5]. I can listen to Z-Ro here in Texas, who has plenty of black and white fans; a car bangin' screw rollin' around is equally likely to contain black kids as Hispanics or gringos. I love the Coup and dead prez and Ludacris. I'd say trying to map out the racial following of hip-hop is an unending task. I can listen to every shade of the hip-hop spectrum, which can be and is enjoyed by the spectrum of fans.

Serra Osburn
Nacogdoches, Texas


Deep Throat debt

Sydney Schanberg's argument that circumstance could allow an active source of information to share in the contingent proceeds of a journalistic product is shocking to me "Accounts Payable," Press Clips, June 22-28]. As much as I respect Schanberg as a writer, his admission that he has shared his "rewards" with sources undercuts the credibility of his journalism in my opinion.

Schanberg admits that where "there could be money in the offing" to sources, accuracy of information from that source may suffer. This contingency is the key to judging propriety. It is one thing to hire a "fixer" or interpreter on a salary to help you to report on events in a strange country or society. It is quite another to structure any portion of that compensation as dependent on the information reported. To indicate either overtly or by implication that good fortune for a journalist will result in greater compensation for their fixer/interpreter will inevitably affect the accuracy of the information received from that person.

Mark Felt was, at best, an interpreter of a world that was foreign to Bob Woodward as a cub reporter. Felt was personally compensated by the undoing of an administration that sought to politicize his beloved FBI. He earned his reward, and further payments by Woodward would have been improper.

Neal Jackson
Washington, D.C.

Sydney H. Schanberg replies:Mr. Jackson has unfortunately misread my column. In my own relationships with my sources or aides or Dith Pran, there was no "contingency" or compensation "structure" or "implication" of a possible greater reward down the road. But when those rewards came to me later, I knew they were not mine alone. Or, when a guide risked his safety to take me to a story and then, sometime later, he was punished by his government for assisting me and needed some financial help to get back on his feet, I hope Mr. Jackson wouldn't suggest that helping him was a journalistic "impropriety." If he would, then we simply disagree.


The Tom Cruise-Scientology bash

After reading the article by Jessica Winter on Tom Cruise andWar of the Worlds ["Mystery Scientology Theater," June 29-July 5], I couldn't help but think she simply took the opportunity to bash him and Scientology since a lot of attention has been on him lately and he's a Scientologist. So what? What does that have to do with the movie? To connect the dots between Scientology and something in the movie is stretching credulity to say the least. Did she do any actual research or just pull stuff off some nut's webpage? Does she make a big deal about ultra-famous actors who are Jewish or Catholic doing movies too? Seems to me like another irresponsible writer writing about things they don't like or know about for personal reasons.

Robert Lugo
Clearwater, Florida

I am a Scientologist and am offended by the anti-Scientology article written by Jessica Winter. I am also Jewish. I can't imagine you allowing Winter to write an anti-Semitic article about Jews having horns yet you allowed her to go on and on with offbeat out-of-context arguments discrediting Scientology. There is no difference at all.

Sandy Chinchar
Clearwater, Florida


City beat

We take great issue with Sydney Schanberg's portrayal of Newsday's city coverage in his Press Clips column "Paper-Trained?" [June 15-21]. He wrote that "Newsday . . . has limited its city coverage largely to the borough of Queens." While it is true that Newsday New York City has a somewhat smaller staff than did New York Newsday, it is focused on covering all of the city, as any reader of the paper could tell you.

Beyond extensive day-to-day coverage of all aspects of city news and life, our detailed look at every step of the proposed West Side stadium, our award-winning coverage of last year's GOP convention, the in-depth reporting of the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan, the Staten Island Ferry accident, and the Gates exhibit in Central Park are but a few notable examples of how we cover all of the city. And of course, columnists such as Dennis Duggan, Ellis Henican, and Sheryl McCarthy take on issues of interest to all New Yorkers.

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