Media Mash: A Compilation of Media Musings

Inside Basketball at the New York Times: Is it Left-handed or Lame-brained?In the Sunday, January 22 edition of the New York Times Week in Review section, freelancer Melissa Roth wrote an interesting piece about the fact that all the leading presidential candidates except G.W. Bush -- i.e., Gore, Bradley and McCain -- are left-handed. Roth then dove into the left-brain right-brain thicket with theories and expert quotes about what it means that so many leaders are left-handed. There was one big problem with the story, however. Bill Bradley is right-handed. In fact, of all the candidates, Bradley is the one candidate whose hand use people might know. Bradley was a basketball star, after all. He played for the NY Knicks and led Princeton to the NCAA semi-finals in 1965. His patented, square-shouldered, squatty and deadly jumpshot was as righty as you can get. The Masher wonders: Is there no one in the New York Times editorial chain of command -- not copy editors, proof readers, fact checkers, etc. -- who is old enough or enough of a basketball fan to have saved this poor freelancer from such obvious embarrassment? Efforts by the Masher to get editors at the Times to explain what happened were met with unfulfilled promises.From Salon to Talk -- Susan Lehman Switches SensibilitiesWhen Susan Lehman, senior editor and media critic at, took a job with Tina Brown's Talk Magazine recently, tongues started to wag in the media world. The job offer came soon after Lehman did a series of high profile interviews for Salon with Jay Chiat, Kurt Anderson and, you guessed it, Tina Brown. Cause and effect? Hard to tell. One media critic called the interviews "less than hard hitting," and there were rumors that Lehman's editor at Salon, Billy Wyman, former music critic and editor at SF Weekly, wanted more from the face-to-face sessions. Were the interviews too soft? Maybe. But it is a tricky business trying to pry news and revealing insights from media-savvy types like Brown and Anderson.From the Masher's point of view, Lehman's move is a plus for Talk, since Lehman brings serious credentials to the table. Long interested in human rights and legal issues, she penned notable articles earlier in her career, including a memorable piece in the magazine Wig Wam (okay, who remembers it?) on the maximum security prison in Marion, Ohio, which is among the harshest prisons in the country. She also produced a stunning piece in the Atlantic Monthly about Fred Leuchter, the creator of death machines for the execution of prisoners, increasingly necessary inventions in this capital punishment-crazy country of ours. Leuchter is also the subject of a recent provocative documentary by Earl Morris.From the Masher's perspective, if Lehman brings tough reporting and good journalism to Talk, then Tina is making a smart move and comes out ahead. Talk is so soft and celeb-oriented that it threatens to float into the ether without anyone ever noticing.Lehman is excited about her new "totally great job," as she put it, where as "editor at large" she will be generating and assigning feature stories and buying book excerpts. Her job arrangement will also give her some extra time with her three kids. As for Salon, Lehman has nothing but praise. "I feel very lucky to have worked with Gary Kamiya and David Talbot there for three years." Notice that she left Billy Wyman out.Maybe It's Time to Buy a Satellite DishIf you are like the Masher, the idea that the Internet is going to come rushing through those AT&T cable lines into your home computer (separate from your feelings about broadband public access) any time soon is wishful thinking. It's even hard to get DSL, since you have to be within 17,500 feet of a telephone switching station for it to work right.So maybe it makes sense to get a satellite dish for all the extras channels, and go back to cable later, especially since now there's a new good reason. Internews and ITVS have launched a satellite channel called World Link TV that provides independent international documentaries, interactive programs and world music -- all cool stuff and very hard to see, especially the great docs from other countries that would never make it on U.S. television. (If you already have Direct TV it's on channel 375.)World Link was rushed into existence virtually over night to meet a December 15th deadline. That was the date set by the FCC for implementation of a 1992 law that required Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) companies to devote 4 percent of their channel capacity for non-profit programming. Direct TV, which hosts the World Link channel, also awarded channel capacity to PBS for a lifelong learning channel, A NASA Channel, a Spanish language channel and an inspirational religious channel (which includes programming from Jerry Falwell.) Direct TV has 7.8 million subscribing households.

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