Monthly Archives: August 2009

Media Bias

Gerald Marzorati, of The New York Times offers a great response to a question on the editorial bias, if any,  of the NY Times Magazine.

Q. The New York Times Magazine, I’ve been told by a former editor, considers itself “centrist” — playing stories straight down the center. Any comment?

— Ron Mwangaguhunga

A. Interesting. What you’re asking is: Does the Magazine have an ideology? At the risk of giving some of my colleagues hives, I think it does. Call it Urban Modern. That is, I think it reflects not a left-or-right POLITICAL ideology but a geographical one, the mentality of the place it is created: 21st Century Manhattan.

So: The Magazine reflects a place where women have professional ambition, where immigrants are welcome, and where gay men and lesbians can be themselves (if not marry, yet). The Magazine also reflects a place where being rich is not a bad thing, where fashion is not a sign of superficiality and where individualism is embraced. Here, arguing is not bad manners. Here, a chief way of loving your hometown is criticizing it: For, say, not doing enough for those (children, the poor, the homeless) who are most vulnerable. Here, art is seldom spoken of in moral terms, and most aspects of everyday life — food and drink and bathroom fixtures — are mostly spoken of in aesthetic terms. And here, as E.B White famously wrote, it tends to be those who come from elsewhere full of longing who make the place what it is.

More generally, we reflect a place where change is not a threat, where doubt and complexity are more TRUE than certainty, and where most everything non-criminal is tolerated — except a bad haircut.

More here


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Shashi Tharoor – Jaswant Singh

A delightfully timely piece by The Hindu about a Tharoor book that was highly critical of the Congress party.

The current Minister of State also took gentle digs at Sonia Gandhi, pointing out that she went to Cambridge to study English, not political philosophy. Referring to Ms Gandhi’s “renunciation” and her nomination of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, he said, “A builder’s daughter from Turino, without a college degree, with no experience of Indian life beyond the rarefied realms of the Prime Minister’s residence, fiercely protective of her privacy, so reserved and unsmiling in public that she has been unkindly dubbed ‘the Turin Shroud’ leading a billion Indians at the head of the world’s most complex, rambunctious and violent democracy? This situation, improbable if weren’t true, is proof again of the enduring appeal of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.”

Amazing that Tharoor got away with so much and also managed to get a ministerial berth in the current government.

Two books, two consequences

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On opinions

Noting down a thought I expressed on facebook:

Most opinions end up becoming part of our identity. Any threat to the opinion becomes thus a threat to our ego, and our self definition. I think the best way is to have opinions, yet be sufficiently detached from them and allow them to be criticized.

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More Amartya – 2

A very interesting approach to poverty from Sen. Poverty of freedom, and capability are just as important than any financial measure, he argues.

Sen, a former Trinity master, economist, philosopher and mathematician, all rolled into one, in his latest book ‘The Idea of Justice’ says the income approach to poverty, which considers people earning less than a certain amount annually as poor, is not an accurate measure of how well people live.

Instead the laureate gives precedence to one’s capability or the capacity that people have of choosing and leading their lives. More here

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More Amartya

Sagarika Ghose, known for her tendency to make everyone jump to her conclusions, makes a mess of this entire interview with Amartya Sen.

Sagarika Ghose: So you are not saying talk to the enemy, do not lock him up.

Amartya Sen: No, I am not saying that.

Sagarika Ghose: But that’s the kind of message I am getting from your book.

Amartya Sen: Are you sure you are not reading a different book?

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