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Reading the media 

The Guardian’s media section had two valuable pieces yesterday. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger interviews new New York Times editor Bill Keller. I thought the most interesting passage was his interpretation of the failures of the Howell Raines regime.

“Raines, he acknowledges, had to run the paper as a militaristic operation from the moment he took over, which coincided with the biggest story in the paper’s history — 9/11. His mistake was to carry on running the paper on military lines once that crisis was over.

“‘It’s a tendentious analogy, but it’s a little like what happened in the Soviet Union, in which they had militarised political, cultural and media systems because they had a war to win, but then they never de-militarised. The military machine kept looking for new wars to fight.'”

Keller also puts up a rather half-hearted defence of the easy ride the US media — Times included — has given president Bush. That puzzle was examined in a Guardian conference in New York.

“If the sceptical Brits expected to be greeted by an audience of lapel-pin-wearing flag-wavers standing unquestioning behind their president, they were surprised. The room was filled with anger, although whether it was defensive or self-righteous was sometimes hard to tellÂ… Not one journalist there expressed their own regret at playing patsy, but there was plenty of despair about others’ lack of inquiry.”

Lessons from history  

I’ve only just caught up with Dan Gillmor’s column about ignoring history when it comes to market bubbles. Essential reading for anyone who persists in thinking it will be different this time.

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