It’s a place I would guess few tourists venture to, a few blocks in the Bronx, but a place that on our recent weekday holiday visit was bustling. The people sitting next to us at lunch had come in, as we did, from Westchester County (30 minutes’ drive north) and as far away as Stratford, Connecticut, on the coast.
It’s best known as Little Italy, not to be confused with the other Little Italy, in Manhattan.
This stretch of just a few streets offers unique pleasures — like a bar outside the fish market where you can slurp down fresh oysters and clams as you stand in the sunshine. There are several bakeries and we bought a sourdough baguette and a round loaf studded with meat.
Teitel’s is a legend, tiny and crowded, with walnuts and olives and cheese and meat and dried cod and almost anything edible you can think of; we bought walnuts, achovies and cold cuts.
We started the day with a bite and cappuccinos at Egidio’s, an old school pastry shop with plenty of seating and acres of yummy treats and admired a small dog named Anchovy.
So many cannolis!
Slurping fresh clams and oysters on the sidewalk
We bought branzino, my favorite fish, and shrimp, and settled in for lunch at Enzo’s, each with a glass of Montepulciano.
Then it was time to cross the street to the indoor retail market where — of course! — you can watch experts roll and cut and trim huge bags of tobacco into cigars.
Having lived in Toronto, with its huge and amazing St. Lawrence Market, and Montreal, with its Atwater Market, and Paris with Rue Cler and many other food markets, I really miss this lively and interesting European way of food shopping — the butcher, the fishmonger, the baker, the fresh pasta store, the cheese store, the liquor store. It’s bustling and social and fun, the absolute opposite of the huge and booooooring suburban supermarkets all owned by multi-national conglomerates, not by the grandchildren of immigrants who founded these individual stores, some more than a century old.
I hadn’t been back there in probably five years and it was happily, very little changed.
You can enjoy a great afternoon in only a few blocks, increasingly laden with food and drink and savoring it all with joy.
Typical of such summits, the people speaking were largely white, upper middle class and already perched high in the industry…not necessarily the best place from which to enact meaningful change. By the time you’ve hit the heights, so to speak — like any industry, really — you’ve climbed the greasy pole and know how many ways you can slip back to the bottom: pissing off your advertisers or publisher, to start with. I’ve been working in journalism since I was 19, freelance and staff — a senior editor at three national magazines and a reporter and feature writer for three big dailies. I enjoyed my career, but I’m mostly out of it now, and not subject to the exhausting chase for clicks and views. The Washington Post recently hired a social media coach (!) to work with their reporters. This is, for me, a fresh hell. Not enough any longer to produce terrific stories…
An excerpt from that conference, as reported by The New York Times:
“The media” pops up on your smartphone and is thrown onto your front porch. It is transmitted on television sets and is featured in glossy magazines. It’s so varied in so many ways but is similar in one respect: Many Americans don’t trust it.
According to a recent Gallup poll, trust in mass media has hit a near record low: Only 34 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in the media, while 38 percent of Americans have none at all...
“We do need some level of news, but there are so many people that just need basic information,” argued Sarah Alvarez of Outlier Media, a news organization focused on low-income Detroiters.…
“You can’t do a big investigation if you are not covering the city council every day,” said Sara Just of “PBS NewsHour.” You can’t find out who the corrupt mayor is if you are not there every day.” The disappearance of that kind of local journalism, she said, is what “worries me the most. That’s not going to be the for-profit center, but it is how we find out what’s going on.”
Jeffrey Goldberg, whose publication, The Atlantic, put up a paywall shortly before the pandemic, argued for a subscriber-funded model: “Our industry made a mistake 20 years ago by giving away quality journalism for free — we trained readers to expect something that took work, time and energy and funding and we gave it away. And we have to stop doing that.”
As some of you may know, George Santos — a lying sack of garbage — not only recently got elected as a Republican Congressman from Long Island, despite a barrage of lies about his work, education, life and but now sits on two committees.
Only one small local newspaper noticed what a grifter he is but there was no other media interest in following up.
We live in a golden age of national media startups. Every week another group of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed media personalities launches another cleverly branded news site to solve all of American journalism’s problems.
So why do all these sites sound the same?
Why do political news sites, begun with lots of fanfare about how different and innovative and disruptive they plan to be, end up covering the same stories covered by every other established media source?
Why are they all obsessed with whatever Donald Trump spews onto his private social accounts? Why do they listen every time GQP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks? Why do they report on what senators say on Tucker Carlson’s show, on each other’s podcasts, on Chuck Todd’s Status Quo Fetish Hour?
Why do they all move in a pack, chasing the same ball, like 5-year-olds playing soccer for the first time?
Because — as any honest journalist knows — the few who rise to a position of any power or influence, let alone a job with a liveable salary – has already been co-opted. When a year at one of the fancy journalism schools will cost more than a year’s salary and the industry is already highly insecure, only a brave (or trust-funded few) can even still afford to buy entree to the industry or stick around very long.
So those who become staff journalists can start to look and sound the same….as does their reporting.
Pack journalism dominates — one person chasing all the others to match a story (no matter how tedious!) for fear their managers (as as they will) ask why they aren’t covering it?
Not IF they should at all!
It’s lazy and easy to sneer “fake news” when you dislike what you hear or see.
I rarely see anyone ask…what’s the upside for this worldview?
It’s also pretty obvious that those sneering “fake news” have rarely, if ever, even met or spoken to anyone, anywhere, who actually works in journalism — bringing any genuine curiosity about what it’s like to produce news or features.
We all have some idea what doctors or lawyers or cops or teachers do all day but few of journalism’s most toxic and virulent critics really have a clue about the ecosystem of news production — which is why such attacks leave me unmoved.
I agree that mainstream American journalism needs to be a lot better, but few wake up in the morning determined to print or broadcast something they know to be false.
Believe it or not, like many journalists, I’m disappointed by too much of it every day.
Not because it’s “fake news” but because it’s:
overly focused on crime, violence, sentimentality and military
ignores most of the world beyond the U.S.
rarely addresses the roots of complex issues like poverty and homelessness
doing a lousy job covering and explaining the urgency of climate change
sucking up to corporate interests
I have no illusion all journalists are good guys! Some are inevitably lazy, unethical, rushed, underfunded, poorly trained and edited.
But it doesn’t mean journalism is unimportant to democracy, regardless of its flaws. If you can’t access basic, verifiable, mulitply sourced facts about corrupt politicians or dangerous medical issues, to name only two key issues affecting us all — good luck!
Untrue assertions make their way to mainstream news consumers in several ways. Common tactics sources use include false equivalence, whataboutism, bothsidesism and good old-fashioned lying. Well-meaning journalists play a role by allowing sources to give “their side” of an argument — true or not — out of a belief that fair, ethical journalism requires them to do so.
False equivalence refers broadly to situations where a source makes an assertion that two things that share some similarities are equal despite significant differences between them. Comparing Trump supporters’ Jan. 6, 2021, protest in Washington, D.C., to protests following the death of George Floyd is an example. The Floyd protests didn’t turn into a deadly riot that overtook the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn a presidential election.
Whataboutism is a form of false equivalence in which a source responds to an allegation by claiming that someone else did something similar or worse without addressing the substance of the allegation.
Two journalism films are worth your time no matter how much you want to dismiss my defense and protestations, the 2015 film Spotlight, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, about an investigation by the Boston Globe investigative team of three reporters that uncovered 249 abusive Catholic priests and 1,000 victims….many more exist worldwide, as evidenced by the long list in the film’s final credits, from Igloolik, Canada to Argentina.
At its best, this is what journalists do.
Also, the 2022 film She Said, about two New York Times journalists who uncovered decades of abuse by former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein — now in prison for those crimes.
Both are slow moving and procedural but also show the internal hierarchies of power at each paper and how they impeded or helped the reporters and the emotional and physical toll that such reporting on difficult issues affects us.
Because it does.
How cynically — if you even consume news or journalism — do you view the industry?
This little bear used to sit deep in my uniform shirt pocket during my years at boarding school. Invisible comfort and companionship.
By Caitlin Kelly
I read very few newsletters — already inundated by Twitter, two daily newspapers, a dozen monthly magazines and, when I have an ounce of attention left, books.
But I really enjoyed the latest one from an American journalist, Anne Helen Peterson, on the boxes her mother kept for her from her teens — a time, she writes, so much more memorable to her than her 20s and 30s.
She writes beautifully about what it felt like to go through those boxes and reconnect with her much younger self; I’d guess she’s in her mid to late 30s.
That big plastic storage bin was allowed to sit undisturbed because my mom lives in a small town in Idaho with a basement approximately the size of my current house — as is the Idaho way. But now she is moving to a place with NO BASEMENT, and some tough decisions have to be made. By me.
I spent the day after Christmas pouring out the contents of these envelopes, taking pictures with my camera and, as an old friend of mine used to say, with my heart, and allowing that heart to be towed in so many unanticipated directions. Because turns out: I was an excellent archivist of my teen self.
The corsages, sure, but that’s classic memory book stuff. I’m talking about movie stubs and campaign pins, about 9th grade English notebooks and printed-out (and pencil-edited) drafts of college admissions essays.…
All archives are, to some extent, narratives: edited stories of the self or others. What I kept then was a story of myself that felt precious and still, at that point, untold. I wasn’t saving in the hopes of someone else discovering who I was. I think it was much more a case of ensuring my future self’s attention. The artifacts were the grammar that made the story readable.
I envy her terribly!
I lived with my father and his girlfriend (later wife) ages 14 to 19. I have very few artifacts of those years: my high school graduation yearbook, some photos. I struggle to think of much else.
My family of origin was never one to keep stuff for others…my father sold the house we lived in and went to live on a boat in the Mediterranean when I was 19 and in my second year of university. I took my wooden trundle bed and wooden desk to the studio apartment I moved it with me. And my stereo!
I really treasure the photo below.
I was maybe six or seven and sitting in the backyard of the last house I shared with my parents before they divorced. It was a big house on a beautiful, quiet street — Castlefrank — in one of Toronto’s nicest neighborhoods, Rosedale. I never lived anywhere like that again.
Luckily, my husband Jose (a photo archivist for the USGA) was able to take this one precious very faded color photo and bring it back for me.
My mother left behind several thick photo albums, but, typical of our relationship, I know very few of the people in them. She never spoke much about her life to me. I do have images of her — slim, gorgeous — modeling for the Vancouver Sun, and a spectacular photo of her that I love.
Cynthia being glamorous.
My stuff? Not much. I moved a few times and only years later found a set of excellent encyclopedias that had been in storage while I was boarding school and camp.
I still fondly remember some items from my teenage-dom — a thick caribou skin rug my father brought back from the Arctic which shed horribly, a poster and a fantastic embroidered sheepskin coat, wildly bohemian and wholly out of place in my white, suburban-ish high school. But I own none of these.
Oddly, a little embarrassedly, I still own and treasure a few stuffed animals from my childhood — like the elephant I found in my London hospital bed after my tonsils were removed. Faded but much beloved, she sits in our bedroom still.
Because I moved around a fair bit and neither parent even had a basement — let alone the willingness to store any of my stuff in it — I’ve definitely lost some very precious teenage things, like a green and white Marimekko notebook in which I wrote my prize-winning poetry and some songs. That one really hurts. I had a storage locker here in New York, but I lost track of the payments for it — and they sold everything in it.
Do you still own treasured items from your early years?
Who, if anyone, will want or value them later do you think?
It’s foundational to everything we do, from earliest childhood to later years — we (have to!) place our trust in medicine and health procedures, in the men and women who pilot airplanes and drive subway trains and schoolbuses, in the chefs and cooks who prepare our meals when we eat away from home — and the health inspectors whose role it is to make sure it is safe.
If you live in the U.S. and follow news — which some of you don’t — a big story of late has been a shocking, relentless barrage of lies from a newly elected Republican congressman from Long Island, George Santos.
From The Daily Beast:
The perplexing series of alleged lies from George Santos, the Republican congressman-elect from Long Island under investigation by county, state and federal prosecutors, have continued to roll in this week—with each “embellishment” as shocking as the last.
Among the new claims under scrutiny in the last 24 hours: Santos’ high school education, his claim to be half-Black, a claim that his family’s Jewish last name was Zabrovsky, and that “9/11 claimed” his mother’s life after she’d “fled socialism” in Europe.
Basically everything he told voters is a lie. And…he will still be sworn into office.
I think about trust all the time because trust in journalists — my career since university — is very very low.
This causes endless problems if voters believe a pathological liar like Santos — but not the reporters who uncovered those lies.
It’s a problem when people shriek “Fake news!” when they hear things they don’t want to, like COVID running rampant still.
It’s a problem when we keep sending our hard-earned tax dollars to governments that don’t do what they said they would, further eroding our trust in them, which, for Americans especially, seems subterranean at best.
From the moment a writer proposes a story, there’s a level of trust between them and their editor, whether they’re on staff or freelance. A staffer can be disciplined, suspended or fired for lying while a freelancer can lose access to a coveted market; The New York Times, for which I’ve written more than 100 stories, periodically sends every freelancer its long and detailed ethics code, and those who break it are out.
But there are legendary stories of lying reporters and their names are known to those of us in the industry, like Janet Cooke and Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair, all of whom were — of course — much lauded for brining in powerful stories and every ambitious editor wants material like that. Until they turn out to be false.
Every time I ask a source to speak to me, they generally agree quickly and kindly, which, in itself is a sign if trust that I’ll behave professionally; my website makes clear I have a long and solid career in place as testament to that. Only once, and it was interesting, was I told “oh hell no!” when I tried to get sources, by an agency that helps teens on Riker’s Island accused of crimes. Only after pleading my case to them face to face did I win the interviews, which are in my first book “Blown Away: American Women and Guns.” I’m proud of having won these stories, as they were untold and powerful and I’ve never forgotten them — and I’ve done thousands of interviews in my career.
That took trust.
We live in an era of easy, quick and profitable manipulation — of words, ideas, images. A few years ago the news agency Reuters invited a group of New York journalists (arguably pretty savvy) to listen to a powerful and frightening presentation about how easy it now is to alter images, whether video or still. It was deeply sobering to know how much energy is spent trying to sort out the garbage. My husband, Jose, is a photo editor for The New York Times, and it’s also his job — like every news editor now — to sniff out fake images. Staff photographers and longtime freelancers have earned their trust, Many photos arrive through a photo agency like the AP, Getty and and Reuters, to name three major ones — by the time they’re looked at for publication, they’ve been vetted by many editors who’ve already vetted their photographers.
Trust requires a long unbroken chain.
In 1997, as I think I’ve written here before, I became the victim — one of many! — of a skilled and determined con man who had duped many people in Chicago, done time and moved to New York where he picked up again. I won’t get into all the grim details, but it was a lesson for me, for anyone, in what behaviors inspire our trust and why.
He was physically attractive.
He dressed well.
He was very intelligent and engaging.
He was (of course!) initially charming — later creepy and threatening.
I fell quite ill the day before I was to fly from New York to Sydney Australia alone, hoping to research my first book — he brought me a pot of homemade soup.
How can one — when should one — mistrust kindness?
Read The Gift of Fear, a must-read book for every girl and woman — which includes charm and niceness as warning signs.