Friday, July 01, 2005

The Navaskyization of CJR

The Victor Navasky era at Columbia Journalism Review is well underway, no question.

After word of The Nation publisher's hidden role at the magazine was first revealed by the David M blog, the question arose: What does it mean?

Well, one thing it means is that Israel and U.S. foreign policy, both anathema to The Nation, get bashed at every opportunity, even in articles that have nothing to do with Israel or the U.S. government

A reader points out a gratuitous slap at both favorite Navasky targets in the current issue, now online and posted today on the AlterNet Moonbat-regurgitation service. You will note how an article in a supposed "journalism review" finds a comfy home among the ultra-left swill on AlterNet.

The subject was a book by a former prisoner at Auschwitz. E.J. Graff's review of Heda Kovaly's Under a Cruel Star opines as follows:

When I first read Under A Cruel Star, it illuminated Pol Pot’s and Pinochet’s reign of terror. Rereading it last year, I kept thinking of more recent events: The American government manipulating fear and idealism to justify torture camps in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. The Iranian revolution forcing grown women to walk around in large black bags for the sake of a pure society. The Israeli government using historical evils to justify a barbaric occupation. If you’re temperamentally a pessimist, as I am, you could react to these situations by locking yourself in your room for the rest of your life.

There they are, the most horrid events in recent history: Iranian fanaticism, mass murder in Cambodia, the U.S.-run torture camps and the barbarism of the Zionist entity in its evil and unjustified occupation of Palestinian lands. All morally equivalent, needless to say.

Now, in case you were wondering, CJR has what are known as "editors." One of the jobs of people holding that title is to say to a writer who inserts a remark like this something to the effect that "this is inappropriate." Or, "let's leave it out--it really doesn't belong in a review of a book about Auschwitz." The term of art for that is "editing."

It so happens that CJR employs editors, competent ones, and those remarks were just fine with them. That is because CJR clearly is an appropriate repository for gratuitous anti-American polemics and Israel-bashing, now that Victor Navasky is at the helm.

Bottom line: The Navakyization of CJR is underway, and the CJR that used to be considered a nonpartisan journalism review is D-E-A-D.

UPDATE: I just received, from yet another attentive reader, a copy of a recent interview that CJR exec editor Michael Hoyt conducted with the Mediabistro website. (It's on a subscription-only part of the site, so don't bother to look for it unless you are a member.)

The purpose of the piece was to describe for freelance writers the kind of stuff that CJR isn't looking for, and this is what Hoyt had to say about that:

What not to pitch: The most common pitfall in the business is what Hoyt calls a
"journalism story in drag"—political pieces cloaked as media pieces. "There's a
lot to say on press coverage of Israel, but we often get pitches which are
really just saying that Israel's right about everything," says Hoyt. "Our radar
is up for that kind of thing."

Nossir, we certainly don't want to put politics in a media piece. And as for those proposals saying that "Israel's right about everything"--I leave it to your imagination what those proposals really said. Don't expect to read a story on media bias in the Middle East anytime soon, unless it passes the Navasky sniff test and is the kind of stuff you'd read about in The Nation.

Like I said: D-E-A-D.


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