Saturday, December 07, 2019

a handful of links, Nieman Lab pieces on how a decline in local journalistic coverage harms civic life, and Nathan Robinson interviews Adolph Reed at Current Affairs

Local newspapers are suffering, but they’re still (by far) the most significant journalism producers in their communities

In sum, while legacy newspapers have declined, they certainly have yet to be displaced as vital producers of local journalism. And the long hoped for emergence of online-only outlets as comparable providers of local journalism still appears to be a long way off. As policymakers and philanthropic organizations concerned about local journalism consider their next steps, and where to invest their efforts and resources, it may be worth keeping these numbers in mind.

Damaged newspapers, damaged civic life: How the gutting of local newsrooms has led to a less-informed public

An interview between Nathan Robinson and Adolph Reed, in which Reed spells out why he regards reparations as a dubious and unattainable goal in terms of politics (as distinct from politics of symbolism):



It strikes me, though, that a lot of the things that we demand on the left are radical and require shifting public consciousness. Often, at the beginning, they are things that we can’t imagine, or it’s very difficult to imagine having. The fact that the majority may be against you means that you have to work very, very hard, and it’s a very slow process. But if that’s what would constitute justice, it’s sort of necessary, because there’s lots of things that majorities oppose, but we believe in protecting minorities. How do you think about things that are of practical utopianism, versus things that are utopian utopianism?


Yeah, I hear you, and in fact, Keeanga brought up the case of abolitionism. And that’s a nice case, because it shows the problem with the argument. Abolitionism didn’t get anywhere, really, except to piss off slaveholders, until political circumstances shifted to advance the position of political anti-slavery activists, and anti-slavery Northerners were opposed to slavery for a lot of reasons, some of which, of course, overlapped with the abolitionists’ moral concern, but for other reasons that they could see their own interest in: both a commitment to an ideal of free labor, sometimes racist and sometimes not, and anxiety about being degraded by an immigrant labor force. A lot of other things have been like that, too. For reparations in particular, what we would have to do is convince people whose main experience, or one principal experience, is a declining standard of living and increase in economic insecurity, to go to the wall, fighting for an agenda that they, by definition, wouldn’t get anything from. I just don’t see how that’s possible. 
Reparations may be a compelling idea to some writers who have contributed to the Atlantic but Ibram Kendi's approach to reparations was, unfortunately, something that culminated in presenting support or non-support for reparations as a shibboleth that defines a person as racist or anti-racist. Reparations comes across as though it has become a blue state dog whistle positioned against the red state dog whistle of "law and order" politics. Reed has pointed out in a couple of interviews that the Nixon administration set up the EPA and OSHA in response to organized political activism--this was not a sign that Nixon was a great guy or not a racist, Reed has proposed that what we can learn from this is that there is a difference between effective political action and grassroots activism on the one hand and the symbolism of "spark" that amounts to a kind of political theater of "moment" that ... Jesse Jackson may be emblematic of, as Reed has been putting it for decades.  

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