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I am a journalist, and the problem with this "citizen media" idea is that the general public doesn't have any code of ethics to use when writing their opinions. The point of journalism is to combine advanced reporting techniques with writing skills so the average person can understand the whole picture behind a story, not just one person's view. Journalists are trained to be objective at any expense and to never editorialize within a story, regardless of how passionate that journalist might be about the issue. In fact, most journalists will not write stories in which they have a vested interest, but instead will pass the assignment on to an objective third party just to make sure there is no bias in the story. This is contrary to how the average "citizen journalist" would approach the topic, since most people would only write about topics in which they have a personal interest. Newspapers already have a place for columns like this, and they typically encourage local residents to provide feedback. It's called the opinion page, which is where all general public opinions belong
Iran, Iran So Far Away
Did you hear that? It's the sound of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rattling his sword for the folks at home. His fundamentalist policies weren't playing so well, poll numbers were down, so now he just bashes America (his numbers have since soared). And did you hear that? Bush is jumping for the bait, knowing that invading a second Muslim nation will impress his core constituency as well. This time, he doesn't have to make up stories about weapons of mass destruction, because Iran is with a nuclearized loudmouth who'll do anything to give Bush a black eye. Which brings me to that other thing you hear in the background: World War III, and Bush's core voters singing their approval. In case you didn't know, they've all been raised on tales of the world ending any day now. Ever stood at a book stall and thumbed through Tim LaHaye's popular Left Behind, or Todd Strandberg's Are You Rapture Ready? You should. According to these Bush-favored texts, nukes rain on the Arabs, God roasts the Blue-state voters, and Evangelical Christians float up to heaven just before things get nasty. Imagine that--walking around believing God wants you to start wars, but since you're a favored person, you'll not have to endure what you've started. Ever wonder why Bush is so strangely upbeat about the war in Iraq, despite daily, unrelenting bloodshed? Now you know.
--Sara Miller, Boise
I just read "Not Just for the Birds" (BW, News, April 19, 2006) and wanted to pass on my thoughts.As days go by, the risk of a bird flu pandemic becomes more and more real. Walk into any factory-farm chicken or turkey shed and it's easy to see why. One shed houses tens of thousands of birds who are never allowed outside and are cooped up in their own filth. When one gets sick, the disease can quickly spread. History shows that every pandemic within the last 100 years arose because of animal agriculture. Farmers know they've created breeding grounds for diseases, so they dose their animals with massive amounts of drugs.
Every time you put yourself in contact with or consume animal products, you risk infecting yourself with bird flu or some other deadly virus. If you are going to eat meat, ensuring that you and your family are protected from bird flu and similar pathogens requires that you treat your kitchen like a laboratory. There's an easier solution, though--adopting a vegetarian diet. For more information and to order a free vegetarian starter kit, visit GoVeg.com.