Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

January 20, 2007

Let each consumer police the press

Nick Madigan's article "Policing the Press" (Jan. 14) appeared to miss the point about what's wrong with the media in the United States.

There may be lots of organizations monitoring the media, but they largely serve the interests of established industry players and as such are of little use.

The real problem with the media is that when it comes to criticism, they may be good at dishing it out but they just can't take it.

Let's face it, the media have become lazy - reduced to a mere conduit for recycling press releases - and are no longer an organ of critical questioning.

Just look at the easy ride President Bush and the White House have gotten from the press corps. Soft questions are the norm, and anything even slightly difficult is easily deflected by slick spokesmen who stick close to their prepared texts.

It's no use decrying the fact that today "everyone's a critic" and that mere consumers (i.e., readers like me) and other ordinary mortals can have a valid, informed and well-presented view of the world.

This fact actually needs to be celebrated - as the so-called media industry professionals have forfeited their position as arbiters of truth, information and entertainment through nepotism, sloppy reporting and weak questioning based on the "don't bite the hand that feeds you" school of journalism.

The reality is that the days of the established media are numbered and that disillusioned consumers like me will increasing turn to Internet blogs or go straight to the source - filtering out the establishment editorial viewpoint and the unwanted static of advertising and other propaganda.

Ted Newcomen

Church Hill

Embrace diversity to heal church rift

As a lifelong Episcopalian, I am in mourning along with the Rev. Jo Bailey Wells over the present serious divisions in this denomination ("The Virginia schism: a wound in Christianity's heart" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 4).

The writer of the letter "Confronting sin is a higher priority" (Jan. 13) epitomizes the sticking point that threatens to tragically tear this church apart.

The letter writer subscribes to a belief that the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexual acts as sin, and assumes that this excludes those who are not heterosexual from the ministry.

He sees this view as one to which Christians must respond with unquestioning obedience to God's command.

But some Episcopalians, who are equally faithful, recognize in their Creator a much wider purpose that embraces differences without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, personality or sexuality. The important thing, according to this view, is that we worship the same God in spirit and in truth.

Unity depends on embracing the diversity that has been a hallmark of Anglican faith for centuries.

The bottom line is that neither side can honestly claim to know the mind of God.

I subscribe to the latter opinion, and so I long to hear that this ancient Anglican Communion will be humble enough to realize that the Almighty cannot be confined to a box or locked in to the ancient mores found in the Old Testament or the cultural practices that restricted the Apostle Paul's human understanding.

In matters of such importance, Episcopalians must pray for brotherly love, understanding and great patience.

Elizabeth W. Goldsborough

Owings Mills

Stakeholders should select school boards

Throughout the nation, appointed and elected school boards have proved inadequate to solve America's education dilemma ("Should city school board be elected?" Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 8).

For decades, if not centuries, cities and states have played musical chairs with our schools' governance crisis. Simple sanity should dictate that we look for new solutions.

On the one hand, why should politicians appoint school board members?

On the other, elected school boards would attract the same sort of blow-hard, incompetent egotists who populate our City Council and state legislature.

What is the alternative? Democracy.

School boards should be dominated by those constituencies most concerned with providing quality education - parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, students and such other school employees as bus drivers, maintenance crews, kitchen workers and principals.

The parents' organizations should elect a majority of school board members.

All constituencies should have the right to elect anyone they choose, and instantly recall any delegate not performing to their satisfaction.

These constituencies are best able to pick representatives who are earnest, capable and dedicated and who get along with others.

A. Robert Kaufman

Baltimore

County board quiets the voice of parents

The Baltimore County school board is at it again ("Muslims protest shift by the school board," Jan. 9).

First, it limited the amount of public speakers per school board meeting to 10 to shorten its sometimes five-hour-long meetings. Anyone who wanted to speak had to sign up prior to the meeting, then wait hours to voice an opinion.

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