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F Word: One Small Step For An Editor, A Giant Leap For Our Mediascape

I’ve been meaning to mention it before, but now’s perhaps the perfect moment.

‘Men Walk on the Moon’… Forty years ago this week, the banner headlines couldn’t get big enough. “Astronauts land on plain, collect rocks, plant flag… “

Papers ran special editions.  At The New York Times – the whole first section of the paper was devoted to the Moon Landing only.

It’s hard to be as struck now by the images – seen first then, but so often since: Neil Armstrong stepping on the powdery moon, the US flag rigged so oddly on the lunar landscape.

The pictures don’t look as striking as they did first time around of course.  So maybe that’s why, looking at a reprint of page one produced by a New York Times advertiser this July 21, I was struck by something else entirely.

Bottom left, front page, in a special box, appeared a poem. “Voyage to the Moon” by Archibald MacLeish. According to the index, more poems appeared deeper inside the paper.

Poetry on page one?

When did we stop doing that?

Call me corny but I couldn’t help but be struck. Talk about space: poetry leaves space for the reader; with rhythm and phrase and tone, a good poem prods, invites, reaches out for the reader – but it doesn’t  lecture.

In that, it’s different from the telling and arguing of reporting and editorializing.

We often bemoan what’s come to dominate news. But seeing that poem there forty years ago sparked another question: When did we decide to fill up all the space?

Fill up the space – for conversation, collaboration – meeting in our media?

And while I’m at it – what does it mean that today, if there’s anything other than reporting on page one, it’s only selling us things – more advertising.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at and Follow GRITtv or GritLaura on

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Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders, author, and host of RadioNation on Air America Radio, has built a reputation for courageous investigative journalism coupled with compassion and a sense of humor. In writing her last book, Blue Grit, she traveled the country reporting on grassroots success stories and broadcast live to over 150 radio stations from community centers in places including Helena, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. In her television appearances (Lou Dobbs, Larry King Live,) on radio and in her many books (including Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species) and articles (The Nation and others,) Flanders calls for a new politics of fairness, equality and citizen action. Articulating the human dimension of American communities in trouble, her programs have become destinations for those seeking the skills and the will to make a difference. Flanders is a regular contributor to the Nation Magazine and CNN. Before joining Air America, where she was part of the original lineup, and hosted “The Laura Flanders Show” for three years, Flanders was the founding host of the award-winning “Your Call” weekday mornings on public radio, KALW in the Bay Area and CounterSpin, the radio show of the mediawatch group, FAIR.