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Index: The press

A Christmas tree in Aleppo.

Denis Boyles: ‘It took until this morning, on the BBC’s “Today” programme on Radio 4, for correspondent Jeremy Bowen, cornered by Ford, to finally admit that the rebels have been systematically using the people they were ostensibly “liberating” as human shields, a war crime that went unreported.’

The New Republic at 100.

Alana Shilling-Janoff: ‘If The New Republic recovers in a digital format—as other venerable publications have—will it invent something even more lasting than liberalism? Can it manage to preserve traces of the dialectic between information and reader, reader and idea? Can a form of transmitting information that is ruled by radical mutability become capable of inscribing itself in the record? If so, it might provide another chapter to that historical narrative of radically subjective intellectual development so easily embodied by Tasso and Menocchio: The chapter of how our new technology changed what it meant to be a reader—and to reason.’

The American press: the news is just as one hopes.

From the Pew Center: For the second time in a decade, the believability ratings for major news organizations have suffered broad-based declines. In the new survey, positive believability ratings have fallen significantly for nine of 13 news organizations tested. This follows a similar downturn in positive believability ratings that occurred between 2002 and 2004.

• Pouring cold water on media hysteria.

Helen Hunt Jackson: Reflecting on it, having it thrust in one’s face at every book-counter, railway-stand, Sunday-school library, and parlor centre-table, it is hard not to wish for some supernatural authority to come sweeping through the wards, and prescribe sharp cold-water treatment all around to half drown all such writers and quite drown all their books!

· The media’s Murdoch-mania and the madness of editors.

It isn’t surprising that Murdoch-bashing often sounds eerily similar to conspiracy theorising – because, like conspiracy theories, it too is underpinned by its adherents’ own profound sense of dislocation and angst.

· What would Wikileaks do with a murdered schoolgirl’s personal messages?

Newspapers that denounce the Murdoch press for phone hacking happily sign exclusive deals to disseminate Wikileaks’ stolen documents on world affairs or to print details of MPs expenses that were obtained by theft.

· Following the media on a ‘walk of shame’.

In France parading suspects in public is banned. In Britain, once a defendant is charged, until a trial is concluded only court proceedings may be reported. The aim is to avoid prejudicing jurors. Justice in these countries tends to be a sober affair, insulated as far as possible from external tumult. In America it is more theatrical, with lawyers fighting their case over the airwaves and cameras filming battles in the courtroom.

· A ticking metaphor taped to an editor! Stand back. Way back.

So it appears that the only logical thing to do is to go on making Rolexes or Patek-Philippes or whatever while trying to adapt to the new era. Maybe you even make your watches more luxurious and expensive to distinguish them from cell phones, even as you do other things to cope with the cell phone challenge.

Why did NPR’s Michele Norris stop to tweet instead of running for the plane?

I should mention that I don’t know Michele Norris. I wouldn’t recognize her if she sat on me. Yet here in the unheated waiting room I found myself wondering why she would be in Chicago.

Harold Hayes and his ideas, well-covered.

Harold Hayes and the ideas of the ’60s.

An obol for the obituary man.

Just as a butcher should have the best of Christmas turkeys, and the fireman’s house deserves especially dutiful attention in a fire, the Obituaries Editor of a newspaper has to be sent off in style.

The Rosenbergs and their persistent apologists.

Allen M. Hornblum: Little more than a last-gasp attempt to prop up the dispirited and dwindling Rosenberg forces, Final Verdict (barely 200 pages, with only 22 footnotes) promises “a surprising new narrative of the case” and one that actually “stands on its head” what the Schneirs and “millions of others formerly believed.”