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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at

It's a big world out there.

Like many Americans, I wake to the sound of the radio. I eschew anything too loud and too strident, opting mostly for NPR or a classical station, most of which seem to be NPR affiliates anyway.

This week I have been traveling and one morning woke to the distinctive twang of President George W. Bush. He was making a speech about the wonders of his Presidency to a Republican crowd somewhere deep in America. His words were punctuated by deep applause mixed with the occasional cheer.

He sounded credible and impressive.

On the cover of USA Today on Thursday there were equally impressive photos of the two candidates, Bush and Kerry, saluting. It appears, according to the poll in the paper, that an equal number of Americans [61%] believe each man is qualified to be Commander-in-Chief.

There is some statement being made right now by the fact that Kerry is outpacing Bush in the fundraising horse race. It is interesting to note, also, that Kerry's cash is coming from internet donations. It might be assumed that Republicans are less technologically savvy.

And while both candidates are out stumping the country laying claim to the military mantle, has declared Fox News the Pravda of the Republicans. Certainly a bit of a stretch but an amusing one. It is hard for me to imagine Rupert Murdoch as a Commissar though not hard to accept that his News Channel is conservatively oriented.

In fact, the New York Post, which is the News Corp. paper [Rupert Murdoch's parent corporation] in New York, is unremittingly conservative, finding every excuse to make fun of liberals - except in its gossip columnists, who tend to liberalism.

We are humans and, as human beings, our feelings enter into everything we do and every statement we make. It is virtually impossible to be absolutely impartial in this universe though it is my hope that as we read things or see things we understand that no one is absolutely impartial. And that we take that into account as we read.

Occasionally I despair of that -- as I did listening to call in radio shows as I traveled. Iconoclastic individuals are taking absolute positions on political questions - not that they haven't since the beginning of time. It is just that now, this election cycle, I am stubbornly hopeful that people will open their minds and get beyond iconoclastic beliefs and judge events for what they are.

However, they will see what they see - and what they see will be based on their personal experiences.

Of all the news services, the one I must admit I admire the most is the venerable, monolithic and determinedly British Beeb, the BBC.

This week, while I watched American networks, everything was focused on Iraq, the political campaign, and the 9/11 Commission. It was from the BBC that I learned there was a huge crisis going on in the Sudan - not mentioned by any American network that I know of, but still happening. It is a reality not covered by anyone else I know but very real and absolutely desperate. And, as far as I can tell, completely ignored by American media.

The thing I love about the BBC is that it focuses on stories that are important but that no one else is talking about - that I know of. Like the Sudanese starvation situation.

For the most part, American news services are disappointing if one has a global perspective, disappointing if you have traveled the world and understand that the world is so much larger than the United States.

Personal perspective: we need to see ourselves as part of the planet not as the center of the universe.

In Memoriam:

In what seems to be becoming depressingly repetitive, I have experienced another loss this week. Betty Elsen, the mother of my best friend when I was much younger [he died in an automobile accident] passed away this week. She was an enormous character, brilliantly full of life, vitality and intelligence. She was a local legend and considered a force of nature. She was quick to laugh and generous to a fault. God's rest. Say hello to Jeff for me.