LETTER OF THE WEEK
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.
Upper West Side
"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.
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.
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 and War 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.
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.
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.
With fully staffed bureaus at City Hall, 1 Police Plaza, and the federal and criminal courts, and reporters assigned to the Department of Education, city business and arts and culture, Newsday New York City's local coverage stacks up favorably against that of any other city paper.
Melville, New York
Re Patrick Moore's "We Are Not OK" [The Queer Issue, June 22-28]: Yes, it is sad indeed that the gay community is bent on self-destruction based on its own self-loathing. But I do not think this can be entirely blamed on the straight community. We need to take responsibility for our own actions as adults. No one is forcing us to snort coke or shoot up. That is an individual's personal choice. Plus, I believe that kind of attitude is a total cop-out. Learning to love ourselves and our community is the most important thing that we can do in the face of the hatred that is currently being directed toward the queer community.
Not to mention, this kind of behavior really does make the queer community look depraved to these evangelicals. If we want equal rights then we need realize that the hypocritical dominant people in power are not going to just hand it to us.
Durham, North Carolina
Patrick Moore has done an excellent job writing about the crystal meth crisis. True, marriage won't solve all emotional and mental health issues for the gay community as it evidently has not done for the non-gay folks. That does not mean that gay marriage should go out of focus as a rights agitator. Do gay people need the additional stress of not being able to marry if they are already psychologically burdened? Denial of marital rights is just another way of traumatizing this community. Crystal meth or HIV are only the manifestations of several such traumas.
Jersey City, New Jersey
Right is wrong
Stop implying that all gay people use drugs. This is both untrue and plays right into the hands of our right-wing detractors. There are lots of gay people out there who do not use drugs. Many have partners, homes, and children. Substance abuse may be a greater problem among gays than straights (though that can't be proven since there are no reliable statistics on the number of gay people, and do you include MSM?) I've been out for about 30 years, and the vast majority of gay people I've known have not had drug or drinking problems. Don't make us sound like we are all exactly what the right portrays us to be.
Robert La Mont
In custardy: Kopps
Re "Happy Days" by Robert Sietsema [Counter Culture, June 22-28]: I hate to quibble but Leon's was not the inspiration for Arnold's in Happy Days. The creators of the show were from the North Shore and drew their inspiration from Kopps (this is an essential part of Milwaukee lore). In my humble opinion, not only does Kopps' custard equal Leon's, but they have the best (real) burgers in town.
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
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