DISAPPEARING PUBLIC COMMENT

❄ DISAPPEARING PUBLIC COMMENT

Once upon a time, newspapers were discarded at the end of the day, or used to wrap fish, or start the fire. The Net and Web create a new world in which civic discourse is best served by observing the norm to post and maintain. But newspapers, even ‘newspapers of record’, are in business for profit. And guided by that aim, they put a price on their online articles after a day, or a week, or so. Of course, they could have remained offline altogether. But then–in this new world–they would have moved toward irrelevance.

Of all the articles they publish there are some, perhaps just a few, which speak to issues in public and social life of such consequence that they merit being maintained. I have two in mind right now, both recent New York Times editorials, which don’t seem to be available at their original URLs. When you use the original URL, you are shown a fragment from or about the editorial and asked to pay $2.95 to see it as a whole. One would think that the Editorial Board of the The New York Times would have a special interest in greater currency for its considered judgments. Could they consider designating a selection of each week’s articles and opinion pieces for the public realm? After all, but for the public realm they would have no stature at all.

The editorials which I have in mind, and which I encourage readers of this blog to seek out (if, for example, they have access through an institutional affiliation) are two:
22 April: “The War at Home”
26 April: “Searching for Iraq’s Weapons”

You might find the first by doing a Google search on “cornerstone of his presidential ambitions”. “Searching for Iraq’s Weapons” was (at least until recently) available at the Times’ International Herald Tribune site at

http://www.iht.com/articles/94615.htm

and “The War at Home” (but under the title “A Disaster on the Home Front”) could be found at
http://www.iht.com/articles/93918.htm.

The URL

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/20/opinion/20SUN1.htm

will take you to the request for $2.95 for the first, and for the second one can go directly to

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20B17FF3E590C758EDDAD0894DB404482

These are important, current commentaries which deserve as broad an audience as they could achieve. There should be no impediment to their being cited, read, quoted, reproduced, taught, and critiqued. And critiqued they should be. The 20 April 2003 editorial, for example, offers the unexamined hope that “Bush” bring about “a democratic Iraq”, something which is surely beyond his talents and persona. But in a world of Fox News and CNN, I won’t cavil.


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