Letter of the Week
It's not rocket science

In the article "If Old Journalism Dies . . . " [Press Clips, November 30–December 6], Sydney H. Schanberg poses a valid question: "Where will new media get the news?" New media will get news from citizen journalists around the world armed with cell phones, which they will use to send real-time e-mails on breaking news, along with photos and videos. No doubt, citizen journalism will go through its "yellow" period, just as mainstream media did, but the most accurate and best-written stand-alone news blogs will eventually rise to the top of the heap. Journalism is not rocket science. Anyone can do it (college-educated journalists were rare until about 30 years ago). Armed with a copy of Strunk and White or The Associated Press Stylebook and any journalism textbook that includes a chapter on libel law, a would-be journalist can learn everything (s)he needs to know within a week. My question to Schanberg is: How long will it take before disgruntled journalists tired of taking crap from megalomaniacal editors flee mainstream news outlets in large enough numbers to push the amateurs out of the picture?

Ruth Papazian

To know him is to . . .

Re Andrea Gabor's "Primary Directive" [November 9–15]:

If I did not know Principal Walford I could only conclude from the foregoing article that he is at best incompetent. The truth of course is totally different.

Walford is a professional, intelligent, dedicated, and caring educator who in his brief tenure as interim principal of P.S. 50 had a very positive influence on the lives of his students.

If Gabor had spent five minuets with Walford, there is no doubt she would agree with my assessment. I have served as a volunteer at P.S. 50 for four years, working with two former principals and many of the school's dedicated teachers. Consequently, I believe I have reasonable insight into the school's problems and progress. Let me simply state that Gabor's damaging characterization of Walford is thoughtless and plainly wrong. For the sake of professionalism and fairness, your publication owes Walford the opportunity to respond to Gabor's uninformed article.

Richard Capone

De Blasio's blues

Thank you, Wayne Barrett, for spotlighting the abhorrent destruction of the campaign finance system ["Council Jihad," November 23–29] by the political greed of Brooklyn councilmember Bill de Blasio. It's truly pathetic to see the morally crippled but otherwise gifted de Blasio—and his cronies at the unions—gut an institution that is a bastion of social justice and benefits poor, disempowered New Yorkers. De Blasio's attack on the Campaign Finance Board is something Dick Cheney, another ethically challenged master of the political slash and burn, would do.

Hugh C. Taylor

Straight-up loving

In "Homos on the Range" [November 30–December 6] (a headline worthy of the New York Post), two separate Voice writers complain that Brokeback Mountain isn't queer enough, kvetching that the love story between two men plays the same cards as any "straight" love story. But Brokeback Mountain doesn't aspire to queerness, and the Voice falls into the trap of forcing a gay love story into queer boots. "Straight" films are rarely held to the same standard of ideological purity, even in the Voice. Can't a story be gay without embracing radical sexual politics? Aren't we at the point yet where two people are allowed to just fall in gay love? For all the virtues of those politics, we should be open-minded enough as a community to allow for all kinds of love—even "straight" love in gay (cowboy) clothing.

Dave McDougall

Migrating military

"Are people going to Canada?" asked an army recruiter in Sarah Ferguson's excellent article ["An Army of None ," November 17, villagevoice.com]. Well, yes. The War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada is already working with more than a dozen U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps deserters who have come to Canada. We know that there are many more living underground, waiting to see if the Canadian government will officially open its doors to them. We are working to see that our government does so. Many Vietnam War deserters and draft resisters who have settled in Canada are among the people involved in our campaign. We won't rest until Canada offers this young generation of war resisters the same welcome it gave us. In the meantime, those who come to Canada are living in peace and receiving a warm welcome from thousands of Canadians. Maybe someday the recruiter in Ferguson's story will join them— it sure sounds like he's been thinking about it.

Lee Zaslofsky
Toronto, Canada

Women need not apply

Re Aina Hunter's "Test Pattern" [Health Watch, November 23–29]: As an individual who has participated in many clinical trials (mostly for pay), I can tell you that not only are women underrepresented in trials for AIDS vaccines and drugs, but they are underrepresented in most medical trials. This is because many of the drugs being tested have not been approved by the FDA or have not been officially labeled safe. Women who are pregnant or become pregnant shortly after testing a drug stand a chance of harming the fetus. Clinical staff inform female applicants that it is important not to conceive or breast-feed while testing experimental drugs. Naturally, a written agreement between the research facility and the female test subject is mandatory. However, I have heard some clinical staff say that it is very common for female test subjects to become pregnant while participating in a trial. A nurse at one facility stated that if it were up to her, there would be a law that prohibits women from participating in clinical trials, period.

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