Was at the beach for a couple of days, and when I got back I found that the real world truly has a rhythm of its own: Thaksin Shinawatra had tendered his resignation, the New York Times had changed its online look, and the comment threads in our little corner of the blogging world had buzzed with life (here’s one of them). I hope I will be able to respond to most if not all of the comments — if not soon, then at least in the fullness of time!
The Times’ new look is, in a word, amazing. I still look up to the newspaper as the gold standard in journalism, despite the scandals of the last few years. I think the Washington Post has a better understanding of the role bloggers play in journalism’s continuing evolution; for instance, it features its many bloggers right at the top of its site’s front page, on a rotating basis. But the Times is still the news leader; the new look (which took effect April 2) allows it to live up to that role. (It also uses a cool typeface even Issy of Barakocafe would approve of.) I still have deep reservations about the pay-per-view Times Select, which had the surely unintended effect of reducing the online readership of Times columnists; but the new look’s wide screen, its combination of old features and new, its wealth of multimedia options, its easy navigation (the books section, to give just one example, is still easy to find) — just wonderful.
Incidentally, the April 5 issue has an editorial on the Philippines. The following paragraph has a reading of the political situation (these "dark days") which I would classify as decidedly centrist:
Mrs. Arroyo is no Ferdinand Marcos, at least not yet. But this onetime reformer is reviving bad memories of crony corruption, presidential vote-rigging and intimidation of critical journalists. Unless the Philippine Congress and courts find ways to rein in her increasingly authoritarian tendencies, democracy itself may be in danger.
Lastly, a quick reply to The Ca t, who took me to task for "allowing" Hermes’s plus-size dig at Sassy Lawyer: I do not moderate the comment threads; I only require an email address. I think this best approximates my own ideal of the public square, in the context of the blog. Of course, "best" is relative. Of the 677 comments this blog has received since it started, I’ve had to remove maybe six or seven, for using obscene, even scatological, language. (The first five or six, which I believe came from a poster in Baguio City, was a series of unbelievably vicious personal attacks on another blogger).
It is in this context then that, yes, I am responsible for "allowing" Hermes’s comment. Does that mean I agree with him? Only if one grants that, by "allowing" The Ca t’s comment, I also agree with her.
But the real world has a rhythm of its own; I am glad The Ca t was able to drop by.
Update as of April 6, 3:50 pm: Found out the International Herald Tribune, which is now owned 100-percent by the New York Times, also carries the "dark days" editorial — but as its lead piece, and with a different head. Read "The sad decline of Arroyo."