Five Best Wednesday Columns

Matt Yglesias on the new news media, Jonathan Chait on getting Iraq wrong, Mark A.R. Kleiman on intelligent crime policy, Avik Roy on the GOP's minority outreach, and Joel Kotkin on the failed promise of the creative class.

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Matt Yglesias at Slate on the new news media To study the media industry is to hear, loudly and repeatedly, that the sky is falling, with foreign bureaus shuttering and entire newsrooms being laid off. But to the news consumer, writes Matt Yglesias, things have never been better. Prompted by Pew Research Center's recent State of the Media report, Yglesias emphasizes the unprecedented quantity of news available to anyone with an Internet connection: "Just ask yourself: Is there more or less good material for you to read today than there was 13 years ago? The answer is, clearly, more." Yglesias wants to think about news from the perspective of those who read it, not those who produce it. "Despite business difficulties and cutbacks, the American news consumer has never had it so good."

Jonathan Chait at New York on getting Iraq wrong "Since it's Iraq War mea culpa week, I ought to fess up for those readers who didn’t follow me ten years ago and admit that I supported the war," begins Jonathan Chait, who in 2003 was a senior editor at The New Republic, a historically liberal magazine whose editors found themselves supporting an aggressive intervention in Iraq. Chait blames himself for viewing the Bush administration's plan for Iraq in terms of the seven-month-long Gulf War, which "had conditioned me to trust the hawks, or at least, the better informed hawks. ... People tend to think the next war will be somewhat like the last. That is a failing I will try to avoid again."

Mark A.R. Kleiman in Democracy Journal on how we see crime The American electorate is split not just on how to deal with crime, but how to see crime, argues Mark A.R. Kleiman. "The progressive tendency is to fixate on the plight of those punished rather than the plight of those victimized," Kleiman notes, whereas "the corresponding conservative tendency is to regard 'victims' and 'perpetrators' as distinct groups—as if most criminals hadn't first been victims—and punishment as good, and more punishment as better, conditional only on actual guilt and some sort of due process." To move forward, Kleinman wants us to employ punishment, but intelligently. He writes: "With a little less heated rhetoric and a little more practical reasoning, we could have a lot less crime. Our failure to stop posturing—just for a moment—and do the actual work is deeply, unforgivably immoral."

Avik Roy at the National Review on how the GOP can appeal to minorities In the Republican National Committee's 100-page report detailing the GOP's structural problems, Avik Roy sees signs of hope. "The report is refreshingly frank about the party’s problems, and it contains hundreds of concrete and constructive recommendations for reform," Roy observes. "So why," he wonders, "is that so many conservatives — including the editors of National Review — are so displeased?" Roy says the idea that marketing oneself is often seen, among conservatives, as a kind of compromise. "[The argument that] we should resign ourselves to failure with minority voters because we are too principled to engage in crass appeals ... is itself telling," he responds, rejecting the notion. "Is it the conservative view that ... the white electorate, having memorized the Federalist Papers, votes purely on Madisonian principle?"

Joel Kotkin at The Daily Beast on the legacy of Richard Florida The creative class, urban theorist Richard Florida has argued for the past decade, is capable of unleashing urban renewal in cities left behind by the overseas migration of their industrial sectors. Joel Kotkin surveys the evidence and comes up short. "Even in the more plausible 'creative class' cities such as New York and San Francisco, the emphasis on 'hip cool' and high-end service industries has corresponded with a decline in their middle class and a growing gap between rich and poor," he notes. "The predominant future urban form in America is emerging ... elsewhere, in places less dense, economically diverse and, perhaps, just a bit less hip and cool."

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