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Serious studies are being done on this by reputable sources. The Pew Research Center, The Columbia Journalism Review in partnership with the TOW Center for Digital Journalism, The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, etc. Let's “unpack” this, then, to use the common parlance, which sounds as if we all had newly arrived someplace when actually we've hardly budged from our homes all year, due to Covid. A few facts. Newsroom employment at U.S. newspapers continues to plummet, falling by around half since 2008. Within each of the industries analyzed by the Bureau of Labor statistics — newspapers, broadcast television, radio, cable, and digital — notable job growth occurred only in the digital news sector; since 2008, the number of digital newsroom employees has more than doubled, from 7,400 workers to about 16,100 workers in 2019. Sinclair, the pro-Trump, arch-conservative company taking over local broadcast news across the...

Let's begin by acknowledging gladly that 77 percent of all Americans support the legal right to abortion — that's seven in 10 citizens of the United States who believe abortion should remain legal and accessible. And let's acknowledge that telemedicine, for use with medication abortion, has been a boon to women. But let's also understand that Ohio has just banned the use of telemedicine for precisely that purpose. And let's further understand that, according to the Guttmacher Institute, states will be the main abortion battleground in 2021, that abortion rights are in grave peril, and that 2021 has already set a record in terms of abortion restrictions. An ordinance recently passed in Texas is one example, as are more under-the-radar local ordinances in other towns and cities. The Texas Legislature has approved first of its kind legislation for the tactics it uses to prevent access to abortion. It paves the way...

Let's explore the real origins of Mother's Day, observed yesterday. Not at all what you have been led to believe. Mother's Day began in the United States in the early 20th century. It's only indirectly related to the many traditional celebrations of fertility, maternity, and motherhood that have persisted globally over thousands of years, from the Greek worship of Cybele, to the Roman adoration of Rhia, and the Christian venerations of Mary. In fact, the most ancient traditions and representations are prehistoric, the Willendorf Venus, for example; they are all of a Great Goddess, a mother divinity, a fertility immortal, giving birth to the world in various forms — and to this day in the mountains of southern Spain, village women still kneel and murmur their Christian rosaries facing the full moon. Easter itself is derived from the name of the fertility goddess Oestre —hence all those eggs and...

Expectable clichés are mouthed in this country every time another atrocity is committed. Thoughts and prayers. Sympathies and condolences. Processing, trauma, healing, closure.

The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop I caught a tremendous fish and held him beside the boat half out of water, with my hook fast in a corner of his mouth. He didn't fight. He hadn't fought at all. He hung a grunting weight, battered and venerable and homely. Here and there his brown skin hung in strips like ancient wallpaper, and its pattern of darker brown was like wallpaper: shapes like full-blown roses stained and lost through age. He was speckled with barnacles, fine rosettes of lime, and infested with tiny white sea-lice, and underneath two or three rags of green weed hung down. While his gills were breathing in the terrible oxygen —the frightening gills, fresh and crisp with blood, that can cut so badly— I thought of the coarse white flesh packed in like feathers, the big bones and the little bones, the dramatic reds and blacks of his shiny entrails, and the pink swim-bladder like a big peony. I looked into his eyes which were far larger than mine but shallower, and yellowed, the irises backed and packed with...

Let me note at the outset that if any readers are devoutly religious, please understand that no individual offense is felt or intended by my following remarks. I respect your spirituality, if not always your belief system. But I do feel strongly that the United States was founded as a secular country and must remain so.

In looking back through the posts of this blog, I realize that I first mentioned the Coronavirus on January 26 of 2020, and by March 1 these posts were running hard on the subject--and we were also surmising that no one would be done with it as summarily as almost everyone was predicting. So many miseries later, we now are actually in a situation where we can at least imagine, if not seriously consider, where we go from here. The past is prologue, because history has a lot to teach us. I'm glad to recommend two books here: one is Frank Snowden's impressive Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present, and the other is Plagues and the Paradox of Progress by Thomas J. Bollyky. Interestingly, neither book prophecies what most people apparently seem to assume—that life will go back to approximating whatever "normal" was. Give that one up...

Laid low last week by an acute case of food poisoning, I swam in and out of cognitive ratiocination in a fog of rolling nausea. But I had some insights on race, precipitated probably by news of the reliably unchangeable British family–which of late is happily more changeable. These insights, such as they were, are on whiteness—and on families. But the American version, with two major characters. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), draftsman of the Declaration of Independence, the nation’s first secretary of state (1789–94), second vice president (1797–1801) and, as the third president (1801–09), the statesman responsible for the Louisiana Purchase. An early advocate of total separation of church and state, he also was founder and architect of the University of Virginia and the most eloquent proponent of individual freedom as the meaning of the American Revolution. Sallie Hemings (1773-1835) came to Jefferson's Virginia estate, Monticello, as an enslaved infant, part of...

I once inveighed against the American system of government, longing instead for the parliamentary system that permitted the bringing down of an administration whenever enough support for that could be mustered. Oh, think of that! The United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate are in fact modeled respectively on the British House of Commons and House of Lords, the Senate having longer terms, being originally selected not by popular vote but by each state legislature, and assumed to be further removed from the popular politics of the so called "rabble," thus better insulated to consider great matters of the nation. The US Senate was designed to represent the states--that each state would stand in a relationship of equality with the others. It was an expression of federalism. The US House of Representatives was designed to represent the nation. It was the expression of democracy, representing the...