This is the second time this week the paper's front page headline story offers only empty calories for the mind.
In today's 'news' story Michael Stewart is given by-line co-credit. We're sorry to see that. It's beneath him. Possibly, Michael can be excused for having tried to lend a little gravitas -- way back on an interior page near the end of the article -- with a few reassuring facts from the U.S. Marshall Service and city police.
Otherwise, the "news" being reported is based on interviews with a total of seven -- count 'em, seven! -- local citizens "in the west side neighborhoods of Warrington and Myrtle Grove."
One of the interviewees is identified as a bartender. As for the rest, we aren't told what they do or why we should care what they think -- which naturally raises the suspicion that they were collared for a quote around the same bar.
"Some are angry. Some are scared," the lede reads. For all we're told about the others, it could have added, "most are witless, confused, and want another beer."
The PNJ is doing its readers no favors by pandering to popular ignorance and fear. This is precisely what Zbigniew Brzezinski warned against last week in an insightful article titled, "Terrorized by 'War on Terror.' ":
The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.Apparently, News Journal editors hope not only "demagogic politicians" will profit from a culture of fear. Bad newspapers can do it, too.
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Constant reference to a "war on terror" did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.