Today's Blogs

Peter Jennings, 1938-2005

Bloggers eulogize Peter Jennings and the brand of network news he presided over. They also fawn over the latest work by guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy and discuss recent reports that scientists have developed an avian flu vaccine.

Peter Jennings, 1938-2005: Peter Jennings, anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight since 1983, died Sunday of lung cancer. “For more than two decades, the magnitude of a news event could be measured, at least in part, by whether Mr. Jennings and his counterparts on the other two networks showed up on the scene,” wrote Jacques Steinberg in the New York Times.

Bloggers of all stripes celebrate the anchor. “He combined confidence with sincerity and never sounded as if he was talking down to the audience,” praises Stephen of ChristWeb. Powerpundit Rick Edwards, a moderate conservative, calls Jennings an unflappable journalist and a humble broadcaster. At luminary roundtable the Huffington Post, Doug Wilson says Jennings was more than mere newsman. “He was determined not just to provide the facts but to provide a deeper context for understanding the facts,” attests Wilson, a former foreign service officer who crossed paths with Jennings in late-1970s London. “Peter had a sense of history, a understanding of change, an appreciation of tides and cycles that shaped the presentation of events.”

“Many people spent more time with Peter Jennings than with their adult children,” writesAsymmetrical Information’sMegan McArdle, filling in for Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit. “And his death represents the end of an era. No one will ever occupy the place in the world that Brokaw, Jennings, and Rather did. Americans are no longer limited to three channels, nor forced to take their news in discreet bites between 5-7. The world is probably better for it, but something—if only a connection to our past—has been lost.” At Fast Company Now, Chris Houchens agrees Jennings’ death signals the end of an anchor-dominated news era but thinks the networks will continue to sleepwalk through a period of supersonic journalistic changes rather than seize the opportunities presented by it.  

Some see symptomatic hubris in the media response. Karen of The View from My Chair was watchingLaw & Order when NBC broke into the programming. “Your heart stops pounding and you realize that the MSM (mainstream media) really believes the death of one of their own is so important that we must know it before the next commercial break or evening news report. Incredible!” she recalls.

Read more about Jennings.

Duchamp in the West Bank:British guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy has festooned the Palestinian side of the West Bank barrier in Israel with nine paintings, each evoking a sublimely paradisiacal world to be discovered just through or beyond the wall.

“You’ve got to admire the audacity of the man,” applauds Anthony, a U.K. Web designer, at Escape Crate. “Hanging your own work in the Tate is one thing, risking being executed by over zealous Israeli guards is a completely different game of soldiers.” Australian artist ToxicPurity, blogging at One dog said to the other, agrees. “Anybody who can complete nine pieces of artwork while dodging warning shots from the Israeli army deserves to have his voice heard,” she says.

“[F]rom the look of the three photos in the report,” assesses Simon of artists’ collective Poorly Controlled, “he is up to his satirical best - he paints and pastes views of life a long way removed from the sad reality of the fence.” Colorado blogger Ash endorses the apparent political agenda as well as the artistic accomplishment. “I also happen to think that fences may make good neighbors, but walls are made to be torn down,” he writes at Another Truthless Day.

Visit Banksy’s Web site. Read more blog posts about him.

Avian flu relief? Not so fast:Saturday, the New York Times reported that scientists had successfully tested an avian flu vaccine for humans, calming fears of a bird flu pandemic. Sunday, the paper and its sources climbed down from the earlier, triumphal assertion, cautioning that the discovery of the vaccine was not itself sure protection against the flu, which may diverge quickly from the studied strain and render the vaccine obsolete.

“Your chance of dying from avian flu is much greater than your chance of dying from terrorism,” declares Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution. “Do not get too hopeful about recent vaccine reports,” he warns. Anonymous public-health advocates at Effect Measure are equally cautious, citing the limitations of small samples, the unreliability of studies of unexposed subjects based on antibody levels alone, and some confusion over exactly how much antibody response should be considered sufficient. “The results are only partial, preliminary and very hard to interpret. It appears that the Administration has finally awakened to the bird flu threat—as a PR problem,” they write in a lengthy, informative analysis. “Still, I guess its progress.”

Read more about avian flu.