The Today Programme's Jim Naughtie has been on the road in the USA with his Edirol (or perhaps a Marantz or a Sony) and a producer. His mission is to examine the culture war between God-fearing, Sarah Palin adoring fans of the conservative insurgency known as the Tea Party movement, and Liberal supporters of President Barack Obama. His features depicting and exploring the antipathy that now divides Americans between two incompatible visons of their own national dream make fantastic radio. In the first piece he talked to Tea Party activists in Kentucky and found them spitting blood, fire and brimstone about the grim obscenity of 'big government' and the imminent threat of SOCIALISM...In the second Jim reported from cosmopolitan, multicultural New York and met Obama supporting trade union activists preparing for their Labour Day parade..Of course you have already heard and discussed these pieces, because every student and future student in the Centre for Journalism knows that listening to Today is an absolute duty as well as a joy, but just on the off chance that anyone was in the shower at 07.30 on Monday and Tuesday morning...
The first part of Rory Caroll, Guardian south America Correspondent's, three-part investigation from the Juarez valley, rotten heartland of Mexican drug cartel violence, is an important story made gripping by truly superb writing. His introductory paragraph is sublime, among the most compelling I have read in recent months. This is serious, public-service journalism at its most powerful. Caroll appears to have taken substantial risks to complete his investigation. The results tell us things that informed citizens need to know while conjuring images that transport us to the scene. Now, isn't that what good journalism is for?
...to all the superb candidates who have today won places on the Kent BA in Journalism and the News Industry. In an intensely competitive year every one of you has performed exceptionally well to get in. Our new freshers are a very cosmopolitan bunch. You come from every corner of the UK and the English-speaking world. Everyone in the Centre for Journalism looks forward to seeing you in September. Until then we hope you will enjoy celebrating your achievement. If you have any questions we have not already answered about the course, the National Council for the Training of Journalists, preparatory reading, listening and watching (e.g. which newspapers to read, radio news to listen to, TV to watch and news websites to browse), please don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Facebook site is a good place to introduce yourself to your fellow freshers and to meet second and third year students and our new MA students. The link is on the toolbar.
And deprives us all of the public space created by good, clear verbal communication. So wrote Tony Judt, the brilliant historian who died last week, aged 62, of motor neurone disease in a final essay published in today's Guardian. It advances the most passionate argument for the teaching and deployment of rich, plain English since George Orwell lambasted obscurantism in Politics and the English Language. If you read nothing else today - a deplorable thought - read this. After all, as Judt asks, "If words fall into disrepair, what will substitute? They are all we have."