Letters to the Editor

Readers write about professors taking on the role of journalists to save the struggling newspaper industry, and why the US needs to back up its peace talk with actions in Gaza.

Journalists are vital to newspapers' survival

Regarding the March 9 Opinion piece, "Professors could rescue newspapers": Author Jonathan Zimmerman's proposal to rescue newspapers by having professors write the copy is patently absurd. He thinks professors can do as good a job as journalists in delivering the news of the day. I'm afraid he's confusing commentary and opinion writing with newsgathering. And for journalists like me, that's insulting, as well.

Mr. Zimmerman also suggests that professors can write about long-term trends, but neglects to consider the aggregate reporting that went into identifying those trends in the first place.

Chances are, in writing any of his analytical articles, Zimmerman did a LexisNexis or Google search of some reporters' articles on the topic. And guess what? Those reporters spent a lot of time on the streets talking to people, gathering that information, verifying its accuracy, and organizing it into coherence.

We see ourselves as professionals who bring something of value to the table. We also think we ought to be paid for it.

Karen Houppert

All Jonathan Zimmerman has to offer with this commentary is a history lesson and an idea that has no basis in reality.

As both an academic and a freelance journalist, I would love nothing better than to see recognition for the valuable work being done by some scholars that reaches beyond the academy's borders. But it needs to be more than what tends to pass for public intellectualism in the academy – articles tossed off as an afterthought to scholarly research.

Lara Pellegrinelli
New York

Many professors are fine analysts in their fields, and some are great at explaining new developments and insights. That expertise is valuable, and journalists often call on it as they research stories that involve diverse sources.

But here's something Mr. Zimmerman may be surprised to learn: Journalists also have expertise. Often, their job involves translating the writing and speeches of professors and other specialists who may be brilliant but whose expertise may not extend to clear expression.

It would be helpful for professors with unique expertise in economics, business, and technology to volunteer it in an effort to create new economic models so journalists can continue to be paid for their work, rather than be replaced by professors who want to reconstitute journalism as volunteer work.

Betty Medsger
New York

US must back up talk with action

In regard to the March 5 article, "In a West Bank cafe, patrons ask how much will change": Recently, when asked about the demolition of 80 Arab homes in East Jerusalem and the building of even more illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton replied that it was "unhelpful." She went on to say, "It is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the government at the municipal level in Jerusalem."

I would have expected Secretary Clinton to have responded with something more like this: "When a majority of the Palestinian people in Gaza voted for Hamas, our government cut support to Gaza. The government of Israel is the biggest recipient of foreign aid from the United States of any country. We will inform the Israeli government that unless they cease destroying Arab homes and starting new settlements in the West Bank, the United States will cut our aid to the armed forces of Israel."

It is time for our country to back its words with peaceful action.

Kenneth Hougland
Claremont, Calif.

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