Tag Archives: atlanta journal-constitution

Journalism/Media/Web links for April 27

8 Ways for Entrepreneurial Journalists to Think Like Business People:

“Many, many businesses have failed where the income statement showed things were great, but they didn’t have cash. Cash flow is ‘the lifeblood of your business.’ ”

Bias Or Balance: Media Wrestle With Faltering Trust:

“Five or 10 years ago, the conversation about trust and the media would have triggered different results. But people no longer volunteer so many complaints about reporters making up stories, as they did in the wake of the scandals involving Jayson Blair at The New York Times and Jack Kelley at USA Today. And concern over how stories are slanted no longer comes just from conservatives. It comes from all quarters.”

72 Marietta — I Still Love You:

The Journal and Constitution hated each other then — a deep, healthy hatred that was a beautiful thing. The first time in history when the Constitution out-circulated the Journal was on Aug. 17, 1977, when the morning rag reported Elvis Presley’s death. I never forgave Elvis for dying on Constitution time.”

Terry Gross: What I Read:

“I really don’t keep up with bloggers. I suppose I should feel guilty about that but my goal in life is to get away from the computer. Time spent reading blogs takes away from the time I should be spending preparing for guests. It’s hard when you’re doing a show like Fresh Air and you’re talking to musicians, theater people, actors and experts on every subject. You have to make peace with the fact that you can’t keep up with everything. It’s more information than you can possibly absorb.”

Think Again: The Internet:

“Today’s Internet is a world where homophobic activists in Serbia are turning to Facebook to organize against gay rights, and where social conservatives in Saudi Arabia are setting up online equivalents of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. So much for the ‘freedom to connect’ lauded by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her much-ballyhooed speech on the Internet and human rights. Sadly enough, a networked world is not inherently a more just world.”

Facebook Further Reduces Your Control Over Personal Information:

“The new connections features benefit Facebook and its business partners, with little benefit to you. But what are you going to do about it? Facebook has consistently ignored demands from its users to create an easy ‘exit plan’ for migrating their personal data to another social networking website, even as it has continued — one small privacy policy update after another — to reduce its users’ control over their information.”

Silencing the voice of an institution

Allow me to be parochial here, at the risk of getting overly sentimental. I’m coming late to this topic because I’ve been out of town on business the last few days.

One of the giants of the sportswriting tribe has retired. A lot of them have been doing that in recent years with newspaper buyouts and layoffs, with some of them leaving before they were ready.

But this individual has done so at the age of 90! Furman Bisher, who was a sports editor and columnist at my former newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for 59 years, penned his final piece that ran in Sunday’s paper. Bisher was always kind and generous and genial to me, and I was truly honored to have been able to know someone I have read and admired most of my life.

Another former colleague offered his own remembrance, with the following observation terribly ironic for reasons I’ll explain below:

“Furman still has opinions. Strong opinions. It’s what made him a great columnist. He wrote with a voice.”

Bisher’s retirement coincided (coincidentally, alas) with the AJC’s decision to no longer endorse political candidates on its opinion pages. That’s an action that’s been decried by Alan Mutter, among others, but it’s not surprising. Not long ago the AJC gutted its editorial board, replacing lightning-rod opiners with the publisher, editor and managing editor.

There’s an ongoing debate about whether political endorsements are relevant any more. I tend to think they’re not, but the issue here runs deeper than a paper telling readers whom to vote for, or against.

This is silencing the voice of an institution.

The AJC will remain neutral on political candidates, even though this one could be polarizing on name alone. (Photo by Wendy Parker)
The AJC will remain neutral on political candidates, even though this one could be polarizing on name alone. (Photo by Wendy Parker)

An institution that gained its stature by resisting the tide of public opinion like former Constitution editor Ralph McGill did in the 1950s and 1960s, as the Deep South convulsed from the tremors of the civil rights movement. McGill even won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. For using his voice.

Ironically, Bisher wrote his first column in Atlanta in 1950 in Ralph McGill’s office, using the famed editor’s typewriter. McGill later gave the typewriter to Bisher, who kept it for the rest of his career and continued the tradition of having a bold, unforgettable, legendary voice.

An institution that helped shape my passion for newspapers and journalism at a very young age — I can’t pinpoint it but my mother says I started reading Bisher and the AJC sports pages around the age of eight  — is now taking journalistic neutrality to a highly sanitized level.

A paper that still prints many words has consciously and deliberately chosen to discard a once-great, vital and unmistakable voice.

Which leaves me at a loss for any more words here.