Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Craters of the Moon — in a way

with 11 comments

So you don’t see a moon or craters in these two October 19th photographs
of Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) and wispy clouds.

The title of today’s post’s refers to the location: Craters of the Moon Blvd. in Pflugerville.
Even now, in mid-November, some Maximilian sunflowers are still with us.

✳︎            ✳︎

I’m about a third of the way through Bad News, by the interestingly named Batya Ungar-Sargon, who declares herself to be on the political left. If you’d like, you can watch her in a C-SPAN interview from October 24th. Here are a few things in her book that stood out for me so far.

According to a sociological study of the American press done back in 1986, “journalists were getting more and more liberal with each new generation. Among journalists fifty and older, 43 percent said they were left of center and 23 percent said they were right of center. Of journalists between the ages of thirty-five and fifty, 52 percent identified as being on the left, but just 16 percent as conservative. And in the post-Watergate generation, 70 percent identified as liberals, while just 13 percent said they were conservative.”

“And yet, the trends the sociologists noted in 1986 have only accelerated today. In 1984, 26 percent of journalists voted for Ronald Reagan; by 2014, just 7 percent of journalists identified as Republican. By 2015, 96 percent of journalists who made donations to a political campaign donated to Hillary Clinton. When researchers from Arizona State University and Texas A&M University surveyed business journalists from the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg News, Associated Press, Forbes, New York Times, Reuters, and Washington Post in 2018, they found that just 4 percent had conservative political views.”

Such a strong leaning in one political direction has colored the way the news gets reported. “It took all of twenty years for the stories on the front pages of the nation’s major newspapers to go from being descriptive to being analytic and interpretive, a shift that began in 1954 and was completed by 1974. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt gave this shift the justification is needed: By reporting his invented accusations of communism, reporters were amplifying his charges. The lessons many (liberal) journalists learned from the episode was that it was important not just to report the facts but to interpret them. That this interpretation would inevitably have a liberal bent was not the goal so much as it was a byproduct of their sociological make up.”

Batya Ungar-Sargon reports that as far back as 1963 perceptive people in the industry were troubled by the trend. “The shift from description to interpretation was not without its critics—including on the left. James S. Pope of Louisville’s liberal Courier-Journal decried the ‘Frankensteinish’ copy that intermingled the ‘writers personal notions’ with the facts. And John Oakes, the editorial page editor of the New York Times, wrote a letter in 1963 to his cousin and Times publisher, Punch Sulzberger, decrying the shift. He felt that the news side was encroaching on his territory by becoming increasingly opinionated: ‘I suppose I am butting my head against a stone wall; but again I feel I must call your attention to the editorialization in the news columns, which in my view is steadily eroding the Times’ reputation for objective news reporting.’ He was ignored.”

Of course the editorialization and slanting of the news have grown much worse since then. As recently as maybe eight years ago I subscribed to the New York Times but gave it up because too much of the reporting had become blatantly biased.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 16, 2021 at 4:29 AM

11 Responses

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  1. I certainly will not be finding this lovely sunflower in our northern location but on yesterday’s walk through the local golf course, we found many flowers around the clubhouse, a definite sign of global warming.

    Peter Klopp

    November 16, 2021 at 8:21 AM

    • One benefit of a slightly warmer climate is the extended growing season for plants in formerly cooler places. Canadian farmers might reap great rewards.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2021 at 8:30 AM

  2. That’s a nice cluster of Maximilian sunflowers – we still see a few in the lower valley of the Washita river. It’s a more protected area from frosts and freezes so I’m not surprised to find many still thriving. I am still seeing a lot of cowpen daisies too. Can you believe I’ve heard cicadas singing the past two days?


    November 16, 2021 at 3:51 PM

    • We haven’t yet had any frost at all, which has allowed the remaining Maximilian sunflowers to keep on doing their thing. It’s good to hear you still have some in sheltered places. The cowpen daisies in my neighborhood are also still thriving and have been for a couple of months (even if I never got around to posting any of the pictures I’ve taken of them). You’re one up on me, though, with cicadas, which I’ve not heard at all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2021 at 5:06 PM

  3. I couldn’t figure out how the road got such an unusual name until I looked at the map and discovered it nestled in the midst of Bryce Canyon, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the Niobrara River.

    I’ve love to see more Maximilians this fall, but I think I’m going to have to leave that to you. On the other hand, there may still be a chance to combine wonderful wispy clouds like these with some of our swamp sunflowers.


    November 17, 2021 at 6:50 AM

    • Someone planning that Pflugerville subdivision had a good idea for street names that are uncommon and also celebrate nature. I’ve been to Bryce Canyon and more recently the Niobrara River. I wanted to go to the Sleeping Bear Dunes in the summer of 2019 but the timing wasn’t good.

      I hope you get your swamp sunflowers, which of course aren’t available to me short of a long drive.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2021 at 7:05 AM

  4. I love blue and yellow together. These are so cheerful.


    November 17, 2021 at 12:38 PM

  5. These are beautiful .. I’m a huge sunflower fan.


    November 24, 2021 at 12:39 PM

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