LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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FIT OR PRICE?

I read with great interest the article “The Shape of Things to Come� (August 2003). While I applaud the idea of developing garments that fit a broader spectrum of consumers, I don't know how it will play out in relation to several significant trends in the apparel industry.

In my 20 years in the business, I have seen production minimums, especially for garments made overseas, increase significantly. Economies of scale enhance profit margins and many factories are loath to expand into additional size ranges as this slows all aspects of production. I have also seen patternmaking techniques designed to fit the human body supplanted by techniques that maximize fabric usage and ease of production, giving us garments that fit no one properly. It will be interesting to see which trend triumphs — fit or price. For now, I'm betting on price.

LUCINDA WEHRKAMP

The Territory Ahead

Santa Barbara, Calif.

GRIMM NEWS

I would like to comment on an article in the July-August 2003 issue entitled, “Good News, Bad News.� Your author, Matthew Grimm, has overlooked some important facts about media coverage of the second Gulf War in his analysis.

First, Mr. Grimm begins by calling the movie The Green Berets a propaganda film meant to prove the “ultimate goodness of the United States' war in Vietnam� to a skeptical reporter. I remember another movie that came out two years later (1970) and four years before we finally pulled out of Vietnam called M.A.S.H. that is now considered by most everyone to be a “propaganda� film disguised as a comedy. It, too, had script assistance from the Pentagon, but took the opposite position on the Vietnam War. Although set in Korea, it was actually designed to prove to the American public the complete futility of our involvement in Vietnam. And, for anyone who knows their history, the two wars were almost identical in nature. Not to mention, we had a 13-year follow-up prime-time series on television to drive home the point. Point well taken.

Second, Mr. Grimm throws out some impressive statistics on the spike in Web traffic to “alternative� news sources on the Net such as the BBC, The Guardian and al-Jazeera by the American public. This reminds me of what British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said regarding the use of statistics: “There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.� Mr. Grimm calls these increases to other news sites the biggest jumps among American audiences, which is true if you're looking at percentages. I would be curious to know if these jumps to foreign news outlets have remained constant after the war. My guess is that's not the case. However to be fair, Mr. Grimm points out that traditional media is declining, not because of attitude, but because of the variety of news sources now available on the Net.

Third, Mr. Grimm claims that Americans are being driven away from American news sources by “the sterile groupthink and homogeneity of our own Big Media.� Obviously he hasn't bothered to listen to the unending chorus of the Republican Party and many others claiming the media has a liberal bias. Why does he think the Fox News Network has become so popular if, as he asserts, there is no audience for it?

His assessment of the coverage of this past war, is way off base. This is the first time ever that reporters have been imbedded with military units to report the war live and with less interference from the Pentagon. Mr. Grimm should be ecstatic that the American media had such access but instead, he dismisses this unprecedented opportunity as “cheerleading;� a slap in the face to most credible journalists, many of whom did some very good work during the war.

Fourth, just because the second Gulf War wasn't like Vietnam doesn't mean it was painted as a “glorious, wonderful picture,� as Ms. Banfield claims. Yes, war is ugly, people die violently and unjustly, but I think the media accurately reported what was in Iraq and just because that doesn't match up to Mr. Grimm's perception of what war should be like doesn't make it any less accurate, sterile and/or manufactured. It's as if he thinks a journalist's job is to find a government conspiracy in every piece of work he or she does and if you don't you can't be taken seriously. Of the five “gangbuster stories� he cited as never having been covered by U.S. media, each sounds like a government cover-up or conspiracy. That sounds like an episode from the X Files, not good journalism.

And, is he really going to stand up and call all his peers sellouts to the government? Doesn't he give them any credit at all? America's market of ideas is alive and well and just because the media no longer holds the same values and ideals as the Baby Boomers, doesn't mean it amounts to “sterile groupthink.� The only sterile groupthinkers are those who haven't gotten past the legacy of Watergate, Vietnam and Iran/Contra. I for one think it's time for that type of groupthink to go.

The bottom line is this: American journalism is far more credible than it has ever been and is held accountable by a far better educated and highly suspicious, public. It's not perfect and there are those who are more interested in making money than reporting the truth, but it is, for the most part, solid.

I was taught that good journalism was about being accurate, fair and balanced. But I think today a small group of journalists have completely forgotten that and have become too eager to report on the next scandal or break the next Watergate in the name of being “watchdogs.� Has this small minority become so focused on uncovering government conspiracies or digging up dirty laundry that they end up manufacturing their own stories and violating one of the most sacred tenets of journalism, which is to tell the truth? Have they become the monsters they once fought so hard to destroy?

JASON FULP

Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Kearney, Mo.

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