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The Daily Need

Highwire at the media circus

I’m so glad to say that Need to Know was a Pastor Terry Jones-free zone last week. While we alluded to the difficulties an anti-Muslim demonstration presents to the U.S. government, and the real threats it posed, we did not contribute to his 15 minutes of fame.

The High Line in New York City. Photo: Martin Palmer

I agree with others who felt the media circus created by one tiny church verged on Balloon Boy coverage, especially the “news” conference Mr. Jones held to announce his claim of an agreement with the imam building a community center in lower Manhattan. And it prompted a conversation in our Monday staff meeting about the role of news media in this fall’s campaign season — how much twisting and contorting will be done by candidates in the service of driving political messages?

It’s a conversation we’d like to have on the air soon. One story that we will have on this week is a disturbing report we’ve done in conjunction with a Seattle Times investigation about elderly citizens in private home care. All too often they are subjected to negligent care, abuse, serious injury or even death. With little in the way of regulation or government oversight, minimal training required for the caregivers, cover-ups and failure to report numerous incidents, it’s a heartbreaking story. We focus this report in Washington State, but it’s happening in many other states as well.

Also, elections in Afghanistan this weekend, for whatever that’s worth. We want to share a riveting piece of video shot by reporters from The Guardian who were with American troops in Afghanistan earlier this summer. We begin with the troops who get in and evacuate wounded soldiers, treating them until they can get hospital treatment. But this story moves on to follow Marines who suddenly find themselves in a firefight with pro-Taliban soldiers. This is a stark, gripping view of what war really looks like.

On a much, much brighter note, Alison will take us on a tour of the High Line, an urban park built over a dilapidated and unused elevated train track on the west side of Manhattan. It’s one of dozens of new urban green zones created in the last few years, not just because it’s good for our mental health, but also because it’s good for our economy.  The High Line begins in Manhattan’s très chic Meatpacking District (where you still see the occasional side of beef being wheeled in to a meat processor, if you’re not too busy gawking at the celebrities shopping and partying). But while Meatpacking has been a hot zone for a number of years now, the High Line is spreading the love and the dollars and euros north. You’ll see.

And … will we see Andy Borowitz this week? Stay tuned.