The Journalistic Community
Steve Coll is President & CEO of New America Foundation, and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. Previously he spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent and senior editor at The Washington Post, serving as the paper's managing editor from 1998 to 2004. He is the author of six books, including The Deal of the Century: The Break Up of AT&T (1986); The Taking of Getty Oil (1987); Eagle on the Street, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the SEC's battle with Wall Street (with David A. Vise, 1991); On the Grand Trunk Road: A Journey into South Asia (1994), Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004); and The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century (2008).
Question: What are the challenges facing the journalistic community today?
Steve Coll: The traditional business model that supported newspaper newsrooms of the sort that I spent 20 years in is under extraordinary pressure. You have two things going on simultaneously right now. One is a cyclical downturn of a pretty severe kind but familiar, a sort of recession or recession-like decline in economic activity plus inflation in newsprint and other costs. So you’ve got a really bad sort of cycle and then on top of that temporary cyclical problem you’ve got a huge secular shift in advertising and readership away from print. And I don’t think the newspaper newsrooms that we’ve known are likely to come through this combination of pressures without in most cases radical reductions in size to the point where the mission of civil service journalism that they were able to support before including independent foreign correspondence, independent investigative reporting of a reasonably robust kind, watchdog reporting at the local, national level. It’s going to be very difficult to do that work in those companies. So then the challenge facing journalism is how do you keep that work alive and how do you keep the values that made that work successful alive? And I think that that’s a challenge in part for philanthropy. That’s why I’m interested in the New America Foundation and working with different models to try to make that happen, and I think it’s a challenge for publishers in the new media to determine along with everything else they learn about how to create business models to do as the families that owned the great newspapers did. And once you find a successful business model as a publisher, well, what beyond making money do you intend to do in this constitutional system? And I hope that a new generation of publishers will answer that call in ways that the owners of newspapers did before them, but they haven’t so far generally.
Question: What was the craziest moment you had as a journalist abroad?
Steve Coll: I loved being a foreign correspondent. I traveled in lots of places and had lots of experience in war zones in Sri Lanka and Kashmir, in India, in Afghanistan. You tend to think of the travel and the landscapes that you were in, very privileged to be there with a notebook in your back pocket and just astonished from hour to hour of what you were in the middle of, The bin Ladens’ last project really was a return to the basic kind of street reporting and courthouse reporting and door knocking and sort of three yards in a cloud of dust, just fighting forward against a target that really is a hard target and- but just the adventure of discovering undiscovered information is really what I- is what I most enjoy.
Recorded on: 07/10/2008
Steve Coll debates the challenges facing print culture today and reminisces about his personal experiences.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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