A week of silence.

A Week of Silence

We confess to a moment of doubt about our genteel policy of a week off every now and then when Princess Di was killed the day after our most recent skipped week began. When The New Yorker (which also skips an issue or three each year) chose to rush out a special Princess Di issue several days early, we felt especially heartsick. Were we the only media outlet that squandered this opportunity to exploit the public’s revulsion at media exploitation of the dead princess? (For a tour d’horizon of the magazine coverage, see “In Other Magazines.”) Could we not have profitably run a few symposiums on privacy vs. press freedom, personal reflections on the celebrity culture, editorials condemning the paparazzi? But we decided, in the end, that a week of silence was actually a fitting tribute to Diana–or, at least, that it was the only fully satisfactory response to complaints about media exploitation. Now that the week is over, don’t miss David Plotz’s “Assessment” of Diana’s brother and eulogizer, Earl Spencer.

Vote Early and Often

Starting today, you can take sides in all Slate’s current “Dialogues.” Each Dialogue will feature buttons with which you can record your support for one side or the other. The page will display a running vote count, expressed in percentage terms. And the polls never close: The tally will continue indefinitely, even after the Dialogue has been Composted. You can only vote once (you have to register), but you can change your vote as often as you like as the Dialogue proceeds. This reflects our hope that these Dialogues will be exercises in reasoned persuasion, and not repeated fusillades from fixed positions. The test of a successful argument will be less a matter of who gets the most votes than of who changes the most votes.

And please note, if you haven’t already, the arrival of Slate Explorer, a new way to explore and navigate Slate’s contents. It’s a cute little box that sits on your Windows 95 desktop and does many remarkable things. Click here for a detailed explanation and free installation.

We Wuz Misquoted

It’s an old story. The Daily Newsprint reviewer writes that Titanic II: The Kitchen Sink is “a spectacular failure,” and the producer buys ads declaring, ” ‘Spectacular’–the Daily Newsprint.” Well, not all bad habits start out in cyberspace and spread to traditional media–sometimes it happens the other way. In a recent Slate review of Web filtering software (intended to help parents control what sites their kids have access to), our reviewer, Nell Minow, said of one such product, “Parents who are willing to devote the time to setting their own parameters will be better off with Cyber Patrol.” Cyber Patrol’s Web site does some creative filtering and declares, “Slate says that of all the Internet filters, parents are ‘better off with Cyber Patrol.’ ” A rival, SurfWatch, has complained, and rightly so.

–Michael Kinsley