Monthly Archives: March 2013

China’s clean-air subsidy

By Christopher B. Daly 

Having just returned from two weeks in China, I can confirm the point made in a story in today’s New York Times: China’s air is filthy. People routinely wear surgical masks just to avoid breathing in all the particulates. It feels like Pittsburgh or Manchester of the late 19th Century.

Two points:

–China’s energy companies are as short-sighted as our own, lobbying to continue polluting the air. But at least on CCTV I did not see any ads touting the oxymoronic “clean coal.” Coal is coal, and coal is dirty. From today’s Times piece by Edward Wong:

Even as some officials push for tighter restrictions on pollutants, state-owned enterprises — especially China’s oil and power companies — have been putting profits ahead of health in working to outflank new rules, according to government data and interviews with people involved in policy negotiations.


–We in the States should be aware that China is subsidizing our own clean skies by putting up with the pollution that makes their products so cheap. Walmart and other retailers could not stock their shelves with such low-priced goods if China took the necessary steps to clear its own skies. If they really insisted on air that is as clean as that in the US or Europe, China would have to install scrubbers, switch to cleaner fuels, and invest in a lot of new greener technology. In that case, the price of manufacturing would go up, and we would have to pay a bit more for all the cheap stuff we import. Which would not be the worst thing.

Here’s a photo I took in Xi’an, a city of about 10 million in east-central China:

Power plant in Xi'an, China.

Power plant in Xi’an, China.

And here’s a Beijing sunrise:


It really is that bad.


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Shameless self-promotion (Journalism history division)

By Christopher B. Daly

Finally, it’s here: the electronic version of my book about the history of U.S. journalism, Covering America.

Just in time for the anniversary of the rollout of the hardback, this prize-winning book is now available in all major formats:



Apple iBook, (This is the format I am checking it out on, and it looks great.)

Google Play,

you name it.

I am very pleased because I know that some folks have been waiting for the e-book. These formats make the book quite a bit cheaper and dramatically lighter! For people who don’t feel drawn to the ~$50 hardcover, here’s your chance to read Covering America. The book won the 2012 Prose Award for Media and Cultural Studies, and it has been selling well and drawing rave reviews (except for one stinker on Amazon — sheesh).

Enjoy it, and write to me about your reactions. You can comment here, or email me:

CA cover final






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Filed under broadcasting, CNN, Covering America, David Halberstam, FCC, First Amendment, Fox News, history, Huffington Post, Journalism, journalism history, leaks, Murdoch scandal, New York Times, NPR, Photography, Photojournalism, Politics, publishing, Supreme Court, The New Yorker

Hey, Fuck-head: Go fuck yourself!

By Christopher B. Daly

That’s about the state of certain comments by certain people. This piece in today’s Times labors to try to make this sound new. As anyone knows who has gotten involved with a dispute on-line, the comments tend to go straight downhill. I’m not sure what that tells us — except maybe that it stands as confirmation that life really is like high school.

It brings to mind the original comment by the original blogger, Dave Winer. Early in his career as a founding blogger, Dave announced that he would not allow comments on his blog. His reason: If you have something to say, start your own damn blog! The web allows everyone to speak their mind. So there is absolutely no moral imperative to open your site to trolls.

Right here, on my own blog, I say (as we used to say at Medford High) to all trolls:

Ah, go fuck yourself!



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Classic “cute” story: A 93-year-old “newsie”

By Christopher B. Daly

This would just be a silly (possibly exploitive, age-ist, etc) piece, but for one thing: I got my start in journalism delivering newspapers. I had a paper route for 8 years, six days a week, delivering the Boston Globe in my neighborhood in West Medford, Mass.

Started when I was 10 and finished when I graduated from high school. As I recall, I managed to save a significant chunk of college tuition in the process. And, I saw a lifetime of sunrises. Still hate to get up early and get going in the morning.

I still think newspapers made a mistake by getting of paperboys and (-girls) and replacing them with adults who drive around in cars. I have tried for 20 years to get my adult paper-delivery person to get my paper up onto my front porch. No luck. When I was a kid delivering papers, I had to ring every doorbell on my route every week — talk about staying in touch with your customers. It was the original social network. If they were unhappy about my service, they let me know.

Come to think of it, I learned most of what I know from doing that paper route. Kids should have the chance. Down with grown-ups!







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Woodward flap: Much ado about Sperling?

By Christopher B. Daly

The recent dust-up between Bob Woodward and the Obama White House has now entered the phase where everyone is wondering what all the fuss was about.  It has gone in record time from sounding like a scandal to sounding like a big nothing. Woodward, of all people, should know when he is being threatened by the White House, as he and Bernstein famously were threatened in 1972-3 while reporting on the Nixon gang. 

From today’s Times:

His feud with an unnamed official, first reported in Politico, which said Mr. Woodward clearly saw the administration’s choice of words “as a veiled threat,” initially drew cheers from many conservative commentators and bewilderment from many Washington reporters who wondered whether Mr. Woodward was being a tad oversensitive.

In an interview later on Thursday, Mr. Woodward emphasized that he had not said he felt threatened. “I never said it was a threat,” he said, but added that he still had concerns about how the administration handled criticism. “We live in a world where they don’t like to be challenged, particularly when the political stakes are so high,” he said.





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