That’s what I’m talking about

I spend a lot of time web surfing. A few years ago I ran into an old college buddy, now a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who spends his off time wave surfing and had the slim physique to prove it. Apparently all that ocean-loving fun paid a rich professional dividend. Yesterday when the Pulitzer Prizes for 2007 were announced, I learned that Kenneth R. Weiss had led the team of LA Times reporters who the prize for explanatory reporting for a series titled, Altered Oceans.


In the lead article titled, “A Primeval Tide of Toxins,” Weiss writes:


“In many places — the atolls of the Pacific, the shrimp beds of the Eastern Seaboard, the fiords of Norway — some of the most advanced forms of ocean life are struggling to survive while the most primitive are thriving and spreading. Fish, corals and marine mammals are dying while algae, bacteria and jellyfish are growing unchecked. Where this pattern is most pronounced, scientists evoke a scenario of evolution running in reverse, returning to the primeval seas of hundreds of millions of years ago.”

It’s a beautiful and thoughtful piece of work and my favorite form of journalism — the sort that helps explain and reveal the world of our making.


To bubble or not to bubble: The Web 2.0 conference is underway in San Francisco amidst discussion of whether the current ferment in social media, publishing and the like is a trend, a blip or perhaps elements of both. This snippet, written by colleagues at the San Francisco Chronicle, captures the uncertainty:


“Conference organizer Tim O’Reilly . . . stood on stage before the assembled attendees and said: “A lot of people say it’s turning into another bubble. Do you guys think it’s another bubble?”

If he expected a resounding, “No!,” he was mistaken. The audience response was tepid. “OK,” he said, “maybe there is a little of that. But I say there’s something happening here, and it’s just the beginning.”

On subjectivity: This comment from a MediaPost blog entry on the differences between U.S. and foreign media coverage caught my eye. The writer, who prefers British press, says U.S. coverage of the Iraq war is more subjective and adds:


” Corporate news. American media widely reports on products, coporations and organizations. You will see news segments devoted to the latest technology for hair dryers (FOX 5), road safety tips (CW 11), a new service intro or a celebrity studded event. As you probably noticed, other countries do not report on products on their newscasts as it is considered advertising.”

Fixing FOIA: The Freedom of Information Act was a U.S. enacted in 1966 with the intent of giving citizens access to information held by the federal government see Wikipedia entry for more). It was amended in 2002 in the wake of the September 11 attacks of the prior year. Now the full U.S. Senate is poised to take a floor vote on a new set of revisions. A report from the Reporters Committee on the Freedom of the Press quotes Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the sponsor of the revisions, on the need for changes:


“Americans who seek information under FOIA remain less likely to obtain it than during any other time in FOIA’s 40-year history.”

The report notes that the House of Representatives recently passed a similar bill (H.R. 1309) by a 308-117 vote. Stay tuned for details.