Black-and-white blues

Letters to the Boston editor: February 23, 2007
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  February 21, 2007

Mr. Reilly’s article “Morrissey Boulevard Melancholia” is on point. The future of print media is being victimized by the Internet and cable TV, which provide so many no-waiting alternatives. And the corporatization of the print and broadcast media by the “bean counters” is posing a serious threat to our free press and its career journalists.

When families like the Taylors of the Globe or the Stoddards of the Worcester Telegram owned the newspapers, dips in profits did not matter. They lived locally and were involved with the well-being of their respective communities. For the most part, reporters, editorial writers, and columnists enjoyed a career ladder with slight interference, if any. That has now changed. Newsroom journalists today are nothing more than commodities lacking in paycheck security. As a result, reporters are doing the once unthinkable: tuning résumés on an hourly basis and diminishing loyalty to management because they fear being “pink slipped” without notice. The profession and its code of ethics are sinking under this disease.

Hopefully, newspapers in our country will reinvent themselves quickly, to continue giving us the press we have enjoyed since the inception of our nation.

John Gatti Jr.

Rocking on
I appreciated your Justin Timberlake article. I think you touched on an interesting thing about Justin’s popularity: he has no indie cred, no struggling-artist-waiting-to-be-heard appeal, no fledgling-genius-that-might-not-make-it story. Before his album comes out, a bajillion people are already lining up to buy it. Yet his new album — from the songs to the artwork to the interviews — has Justin humbling himself. He’s looking at what he does as an art, and writing good songs that come off with sincerity, even if he is still riffing on women in the club, etc.

There’s respect in this new bit for pop kings of the past; I think that is worth celebrating. It was awesome to find some words that looked a little deeper into his character, rather than just at his tabloid features. To take away the hype after being known for so long for one particular thing is a challenge, but also an effort worth making. I am excited to see where it leads. Thanks a lot.

Art Middleton
Providence, Rhode Island

Tragedy’s no excuse
Matt Taibbi’s “Sports Blotter” piece opens with a damning description of Southeast Texas communities that took in refugees from New Orleans and now have second thoughts. We then move a few hundred miles north and meet Howard Stirgus, a kid from New Orleans who found a new home in Denton, Texas. Stirgus apparently first got into a fight at his new school and then, in an effort to delay a basketball game that he would otherwise have missed, was simultaneously vain and dim enough to threaten the school with bomb threats — “over a dozen” of them. Strangely, the implied criticism in the piece is directed at those who would judge Stirgus. The closest we get to criticism of Stirgus is when Taibbi worries that he might not be entirely ready for college-level work; otherwise, he is “just a kid who who wanted to play in a basketball game.” Let’s hope that Stirgus gets his act together and that things work out for him. But being from New Orleans combined with a desire to play basketball does not make him the wronged party here. Lots of people are from New Orleans, and lots of people want to play basketball. They don’t all get to make bomb threats.

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