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Re: Modern Journalism (was: All about Bernstein) (fwd)
Sorry, folks, I thought I'd cc:ed this to the list.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 1995 20:08:22 +0059 (EDT)
From: Peter F Cassidy <[email protected]>
To: "Timothy C. May" <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: Modern Journalism (was: All about Bernstein)
I agree. Some editors refuse to let actors be engaged as professionals
only. My philosophy is people's stories are their own and they are in
control of them to the extent they inform these stories. WIRED likes to
find crusaders and campaigners for their profiles. Sometimes they're not
the swashbuckling types that make for engaging personality pieces. That's
why I went for the issues around ITAR and a speculation on the case's
merits in relative case law and the judicial environment it will enter.
DJB got eloquent where I thought it was important in terms of the
technology and research running up against a law that is itself full of
negotiable loopholes, quiet on everything else. Most everyone who's met
him tells me he's really retiring. Which lead me to conclude the guy might
have the kind of reserve and restraint required for protracted litigation
with the government which is essentially becomes an endurance contest.
Now, saying that, is it weird to think that people would be interested in
a fellow like that? Wrong?
I've written about large scale bank frauds, organized crime,
charities frauds, etc. and even when I'm writing about gangsters, personal
detail isn't used for "spice" as much as it is narrative coherence. Who
introduced the arsonist to the drug dealer to do the condo deal? Is that
gossip or an essential detail? In science writing the personal detail
illuminates sometimes, not always, the actors involved in great discovery.
Is it prying to learn that Maslow felt better after he married his goofy
fourth cousin and came up with theory of the heirarchy of needs? No, but
it makes the story of the science more resonant. That's not a bad thing.
There is undoubtedly a peoplemagazinification of journalism in
the states which is why I gravitate toward the analytic or investigative
publications like the Economist, Covert Action Quarterly or the Texas
Observer, The Progressive and good trades like CIO. Yet even in these
publications, the examination of protagonists is not considered out of
bounds. I think it's not in your interest to be sniffing at the press.
Tell them exactly what you wrote here and take these guys for a ride.
Freeh has managed to make himself out to be this tower of virtue and
civil leadership - well, up until recently and, you'll remember, led a
successful charge for passage of the digital telephony bill which will be
the model for crypto legislation, at least in terms of lobby tactics if
not language. He did this partly by force of personality and his
credibility. He didn't gain these by being precious about himself or his
enterprise or, finally, by being a good cop or jurist. He did it with
great PR and a sense of how the press works, not by wingeing when an
interview opportunity came around.
- Levy, if anything, is doing all cryptodom a favor if average
schmucks pick up his book and say, gosh, is *that* what is at stake here?
His NYT piece was clear and straightforward - engaged the science of
crypto seriously and at the level of the reader could handle - and made
the protagonists and antogonists accessible. Right now, crypto is not
even on the map. Creating a barricade around the people that are driving
this defining technology does no one any good. In fact, when it comes
down to the end-game, legislating a ban on non-escrowed crypto, the first
thing the Justice department will do is characterize you guys as amoral
eggheads who are building technologies to hide the crimes of terrorists,
rapists, genocidists and maniacs. At that point, I should think you would
like to be appreciated as scientists with principles you act on in daily
life and in your work, gosh, even personal philosophies, real personal stuff