I Have a Dream…

It’s been 50 years to the day that the 1963 March on Washington culminated with Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, facing the crowd that had gathered east of the memorial on the Washington Mall.

I was only four years old at the time, and while I do remember JFK’s funeral procession on TV that November, I don’t remember seeing this event unfolding. (Hey, my Twitter account wasn’t yet active…)

Dr. King said, in part:

I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream the one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Fifty years on, has this dream been realized? Or is it a dream deferred?

This is not a judgment; it’s an open question. While there have been huge strides in civil rights since the 1963 march, have we – as a nation/world – evolved? How about for other minorities, such as LGBT individuals or women.

Or Muslims in the US.

Or the issues over illegal immigrants that has (thankfully) bubbled to the surface over the last year or so.

And so on.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore —
and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over —
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes, Harlem

Journalism today

Veep Season One
Starring: Anna Chlumsky, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Tony Hale

This HBO political comedy has more in common with “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” than “The West Wing,” but it has a wicked edge and promise for future seasons.

The show circles around Dreyfus’ character, a rising senator whose presidential run crashes and burns, and she is forced to accept the Veep slot (and wins).

She finds that, as VP, she is in an unusual limbo where she is one accident/breath away from the most powerful position in the world – but, as Veep, has far less power than she had as a senator.

And – of course – hilarity ensues.

The writing is a little rough in this first season (here’s hoping for season two…), but the cast is top notch, with running jokes that aren’t dwelled upon, and dialog that I’d be surprised is all scripted. Improvisation seem to really help carry the show.

Great show? No. But it’s in the vein of “30 Rock” – funny, topical and just enough out of the mainstream to have extra cachet. And since it’s an HBO show, plenty of f-bombs. You have been warned.

All reviews

Well, there have been about 100 million stories about the upheaval in journalism over the last [pick your time period], but the last few weeks of journalism upheavals have been more interesting than most. Mainly because the events that have transpired recently are not part of the “slow decay of traditional journalism/print” story arc, but really are milestone events.

Consider the following:

  • Newsweek announces sale; print publication to cease (8/3/2013): While not a surprise to anyone with any inkling of the current state of weeklies, the sale was noteworthy for two reasons: 1) It leaves only one news print weekly standing (Time), and 2) It sold to IBT Media. Who are they?? – That was my reaction, as well as many of those who wrote articles about the sale.
  • Boston Globe sold (8/3/2013): Purchased by The New York Times about 20 years ago for $1.1 billion, the paper is sold to the Boston Red Socks’ principal owner John Henry for $70 million. That’s an enormous drop, and a blow to one of the nation’s most respected publications.
  • Jeff Bezos – not Amazon – purchases the Washington Post’s print and digital products (8/5/2013): An online visionary buys a print publication? I dunno – I think this is a good move for the Post. Print is struggling, and if anyone can make a go of it in some shape or form, it is someone like Bezos, who takes a long-tail view of business. (See Farhad Manjoo’s excellent article on same.)
  • Patch.com announces cuts (8/16/2013): AOL’s ambitious content farm/hyper-local sites experiment announces significant cuts – roughly 50% of staff and about 60% of its sites. Not exactly good news for this so-called “new” form of digital journalism, especially by a giant like AOL (yes, it’s past its glory days, but AOL is still huge, especially in content – it’s the parent of huffingtonpost.com and techcrunch.com, for example).
  • Interesting note about Patch layoffs (8/17/2013): As noted by allthingsd.com’s Peter Kafka, online layoffs are cheaper than dead-trees layoffs. New Media Pink Slips Cost Less Than Old Media Pink Slips

Any of the above events, taken alone, would be newsworthy. All of these together, in such a short interval, give one pause.

I don’t think journalism is going away – I think it’ll, to some degree, change. And right now, we’re in the middle of the big shake out: Experiments will launch and succeed/fail, we’ll move away from the old before slowly gravitating (to a degree) back to the same.

One thing people keep forgetting is that print media is not dead – it’s actually thriving.

But now much of it is digital print: blogs, tweets, online niche sites and so on.

People I know are reading more fiction/non-fiction thanks to eReaders (of whatever flavor); tablets and smartphones have a lot of those who never got newsprint on their fingers to read the NYT or Chicago Tribune on their devices.

Journalism – and print/digital publication in general – is in chaos right now, no question.

But it’s not dead or dying.

Just rearranging itself. (See the Patch – a new media company – site and its issues.)

Radio was supposed to kill print. It didn’t.

TV was supposed to kill print. It didn’t.

The internet is supposed to kill print. So far, not so much.

One final caveat: The internet/devices may well kill physical print, but they won’t obliterate the need for good, concise, accurate journalism. Or entertaining fiction/non-fiction. That’s the big take-away here.

TV today

Damages – Season 5
Starring: Glenn Close, Rose Byrne

The final season of Damages did not disappoint – Patty (Glenn Close) was just as evil as ever, and the first couple of episodes gave away so much that one wondered how they could keep up the suspense.

It did.

After a disappointing – to me – Season 4, Season 5 was almost as good as Season 1. Close and Byrne are both brilliant, and the writing carries this franchise.

Unresolved issues? Sure – but that is (sometimes) – the fun. You try to fill in your own blanks.

Could this series have ever happened on network TV. Probably not. (The Good Wife is close, but not as bitter.)

Good TV

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Watched the last season of “Damages” this weekend (only 10 episodes), but – I’m sorry – any single episode of this show is better than most network shows (of similar caliber Update: By caliber, I mean a serious show that tries to be intelligent and entertaining; not so easy to pull off).

“Damages” is a bit of a soap opera, but done, so so well.