Saturday, September 18, 2004

12th Grade: Part IV (Letter to Tom Pagley)

Quickly: It was to my great surprise that I actually found this still on my hard drive. I referenced it in Part III, and would like to present it in its entirety.

Taylor Sias

Mr. Tom Pagley:

I am opining today to disclose my identity as co-author of a newspaper story that you were made privy to on Thursday, April 25. The article was a review on current television programs, and a segment of that piece was unfriendly to CNN. I am aware that you received an unpublished copy of an article from my editor, Jessica Burke, that was critical of the network’s “CNN Student News”, formerly known as “CNN Newsroom”. As a student in the AP Government & Politics course that you instruct, I know that this program is an instructional tool that you frequently employ. Using my position as resident news follower, I took the liberty of proffering my opinion to an audience. I would like to clarify that my criticism is not meant as an indictment of your credentials as teacher, but rather as an expose on an inferior television news show.

I wrote this because I feel that I had a mandate. In formal and informal discussions with pupils, a consensus against “CNN Student News” has developed. The writers of the show, and staff providing questions for your curriculum, are composing a product that is condescending to the target audience of AP Government students. A prerequisite for AP Government should be the knowledge of basic news, and this program is insulting to anybody possessing that trait. A large percentage of their segments are irrelevant to a person’s success in this course, and devoid of any tangible social significance. For instance, two gentleman waiting to see “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” should not qualify as newsworthy, when our president refused to support democracy in light of the Venezuelan military coup, overthrowing President Hugo Chavez.

As a journalist and marginal political commentator, I have taken a stance which includes a dislike of most television news networks. From my knowledge of the industry, their coverage is not objective, rather aimed at a large demographic of the nation. The instances of right-wing bias have become indisputable, and can be viewed on-line at sites such as “Con Web Watch” and “Media Whores Online”. The subject of media bias is one that cannot be ignored, neverthelss not germane to my thesis. My article praises the CNN program “Crossfire”, where hosts James Carville, Paul Begala, Robert Novak, and Tucker Carlson provide lively debate on truly relevant issues. As a fair-minded individual, I can offer praise for a job well done. The criticism is based solely on this specific product, “Student News”.

As a reputable publication, I feel that it is fair for me to inform you of my identity before the article is published. I would be glad to discuss the merits of the subject in an open or closed forum. I would even consider using your defense in my article, as I feel I have the facts on my side and am not trying to simply “whitewash” CNN.

In no way am I trying to be derisive to your educational capabilities. I do not have a degree from Columbia University, thereby excluding me from the right to question educational techniques. What I am authorized to do is offer my opinion on a matter of public concern. This is not merely an issue in academic institutions, as this program is also aired at 4:30 AM weekday mornings. Along with my colleague, co-writer, and friend Mr. Eric Cioffoletti, we extend you the courtesy to rebut us. Unlike the FOX News Channel, we are truly “Fair and Balanced” in our approach to journalism. Once again, I would be genuinely gracious for the opportunity to converse on the manner. In the article, I used sensationalism in an attempt to prove my position to my reader. I would like the opportunity to speak in a more serious tone.

I understand that you are a supporter of our newspaper, for which I am extremely humbled. I extend my thanks, as I was informed that you contributed a copy to your each of your 7th Period students. As the great comedian Dennis Miller always says, and is entirely relevant here, I say “that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong”.

The undersigned

Taylor Sias
Eric Cioffoletti


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