Your Weekend Reader for July 30-31

by | Jul 30, 2022 | Miscellaneous, Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Here in Corvallis this weekend, it feels as if everyone is either in Sweet Home for the Oregon Jamboree, or at the coast, where (according to my weather app), the temperatures are about 30 degrees cooler. (Temperatures in Sweet Home are about the same as they are in Corvallis.) Regardless of where you are during this last week in July, however, here are a handful of stories I have carefully curated for you.

News broke Saturday that President Joe Biden had tested positive for COVID — four days after recovering from a COVID infection. (Biden is reporting no symptoms, but is isolating.) The episode highlights growing doubts about the effectiveness of Paxlovid, the antiviral drug made by Pfizer. The Atlantic’s Rachel Gutman-Wei has the story, which includes this astonishing fact: Paxlovid is bring prescribed about 40,000 times every day — the same rate at which Oxycontin prescriptions are being handed out.

HP has furloughed dozens of Corvallis-based contract employees during the last two weeks of July, as demand for printers has declined. Mike Rogaway, from The Oregonian/OregonLive, reports that another round of furloughs may be coming in September, although those furloughs might not affect the same employees sidelined in July. Rogaway also reports that there are signs of unease in Oregon’s robust tech sector, including Intel’s nasty second-quarter financial results.

Jon Wilner, the outstanding Pac-12 Conference reporter who broke the story about conference members USC and UCLA jumping ship to join the Big 10, was present for the Pac-12’s media day on Friday. Wilner’s takeaway from the sessions: Don’t expect a quick denouement to the realignment drama. Instead, as he explains in this piece, everything hinges on the results of media-rights negotiations for the Pac-12 and the Big 10, and those are likely to extend into August and, in the case of the Pac-12, into the football season. The piece is exclusive to subscribers to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

The three candidates for Oregon governor met Friday in the first debate of the campaign season, a traditional event hosted by the Oregon Newspapers Publishers Association. You can expect more of these during the campaign, since the race doesn’t have an incumbent, and incumbents typically try to limit the number of debates. Julia Shumway covered the affair for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. If you want to watch the whole thing, The Oregonian/OregonLive has posted a video.

You know all about clickbait, those web stories emblazoned with headlines intended primarily to tempt you to click through to the story, which typically does not feature the sort of information that’s meant to make you a better person. Well, there’s tacky clickbait — “20 Actors with Real-Life Martial Arts Skills” — and there’s quality summertime clickbait, like this piece from The Oregonian/OregonLive, in which reporter Jamie Hale lists his picks for Oregon’s 30 top beaches. If your favorite beach isn’t listed there, give Hale a piece of your mind — or, better yet, don’t: Why let everyone know about your best-loved beach?

Alert readers might recall the item a few weeks ago in the Weekend Reader about the debate in journalism over so-called “bothsidesism,” the belief that all sides must get equal coverage in a news story even if one (or more) of those sides is demonstrably untrue. In that regard, here’s a report about a new study from Northwestern University that concludes that a false balance in news coverage regarding climate change makes it more difficult to address the crisis.

Meanwhile, let’s say you work in a newsroom and are looking for visuals to accompany the story you’re about to run about a dangerous and potentially lethal heat wave. What sort of visual should you be aiming to get to accompany the story? Well, here’s a tip from a new academic study: Photos showing people frolicking in fountains or jumping into lakes — fun! — undermine the actual message you’re trying to send. Sarah Shire of Harvard’s Nieman Lab had the story about the study.

The big news in music this week was the release of Beyonce’s seventh solo album, “Renaissance.” Because they couldn’t stand the tension of waiting for the album to drop, a number of critics from The New York Times — including at least one Pulitzer Prize-winner, if memory serves — killed time by arguing which Beyonce album is the definitive one. This is a silly exercise, of course: Even without listening to the new album, I can state that “Lemonade” is the best Beyonce album. But as for the best Beyonce track, let me suggest this heresy: It’s “Deja Vu.” Part of me, of course, recognizes that “Deja Vu” is essentially a rehash of “Crazy in Love,” but I still think “Deja Vu” is the better track. In the meantime, here’s The Atlantic’s reliable Spencer Kornhaber, to gush all over “Renaissance.”

Here’s a fun story from The New York Times that caught my eye in part because I’m reading Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Mary Badham, who played Scout Finch in the 1962 movie version of Harper Lee’s novel, is now touring with a national production of Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of the book. These days, Badham is playing Mrs. Dubose, Scout’s mean (and morphine-addicted) neighbor. There was sadder news this week about the Broadway version of the play, which has been a substantial hit: For reasons that aren’t particularly clear, the production, which has been on a COVID-induced pause, will not return to the stage.

I know that alert readers are saying something like, “Mike, this surely is not the first time you’ve read ‘Mockingbird.'” But it is! Somehow, it’s taken me more than six decades to get around to the book that New York Times readers voted the best of the last 125 years.

Which raises this question, alert readers: What great book remains, unread, on your list? Share the answers in the comments section below, and I’ll see you next weekend.

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