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October 23, 1981 - Image 4

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-10-23

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0

OPINION

Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Friday, October 23, 1981

Building up circi
across rural A n

Vol. XCII, No. 38

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
R'eagan secut proposal
weakens.pu lis freedoms

A REAGAN administration
proposal could strike a major
blow to the public by extending the
government's power to classify infor-
mation. The Reagan draft, which was
released Wednesday, runs contrary to
a Carter administration mandate that
government secrecy be weighed
against the public's right to know; un-
der the Reagan plan, if there is
"reasonable doubt" about a document,
it must be classified.
The differences in the two ad-
ministrations' approaches, though
subtle, are significant. The Carter plan
was aimed at ensuring the public's ac-
cess to government documents. If the
public's right -to information seemed&
more important than a document's
secrecy, the document would be
released. After six years, according to
the Carter ;mandate, the classified
documents would be reviewed with
every attempt to make them public.
Nearly all documents would be relased
after 20 years.
Under the Carter plan, public access
to government information was a
primary concern; such a freedom
benefits an entire nation. If citizens
have free and easy access to gover-
nment documents, they can keep un-
scrupulous or questionable gover-
nient activities in check.
The Reagan proposal, however, has
ignored the public. It is concerned
"solely on the basis of national
security conditions," one ad-
ministration official admitted. True, it
is important to guard information that
could prove detrimental to U.S.
security, but Reagan's proposed plan
could go much farther than that.
With a draft such as the one Reagan
has proposed, where the emphasis is
on keeping information away from the

More than a decage ago, Wisconsin-based
publisher Roy Reiman made a telling obser-
vation about farmers.
Farmers aren't in business primarily to
make money, he noted, or they wouldn't be so
willing to weather the years when there is no
profit. It's the farm lifestyle that keeps them-
devoted to agriculture.
THEREFORE, HE reasoned, the large
agricultural publications were making a big
mistake by cutting out their sections with
household hints and recipes, and adopting a
strictly businesslike, technical tone with the
emphasis on making money. ,
"I thought farm magazines were starting to
bore farmers," said Reiman, 47. "They
weren't .as conversational and warm as I
remembered them."
So, in 1970, he started Farm Wife News, a
monthly devoted to rural women. In was an
immediate hit and now has a circulation of
more than 375,000, which put it ahead of such
well-known publications as Harper's and The
Atlantic.
SINCE THEN, Reiman has introduced two
other successful farm publications-Farm &
Ranch Living and Country People-that rely
on the same formula as Farm Wife News.
None carries any advertising and, in the
best tradition of Tom Sawyer's fence-pain-
ting, they are written almost entirely by their
readers. Each issue is composed directly on
the basis of input-letters, articles,.
suggestions-from subscribers.
"If you keep magazines written by your
readers, how can you ever be out of touch?"
asked Reiman rhetorically.
IN FACT, Reiman Publications, located in
Greendale, a suburb of Milwaukee, is
deluged with information from rural readers.
Every day, between 300 and 400 letters pour
in.
People write in to describe their farms,
relate past embarrassing moments, send pic-
tures of their animals, share recipes compose
poems, and give opinions about everything
from estate taxes to the condition of roadside
ditches.
Now Reiman is gambling that rural sub-

By Allison Engel
scribers will suport a fourth bi-monthly
publication-Farm Letters-made .up en-
tirely of reader correspondence. "We get so
much good mail that we could print eight to 16
pages of really good letters in each issue of
each magazine," Reiman said. "It's a
downright shame not to use them."
A PROTOTYPE of.the publication includes
reminiscences about farming, a re-telling of a
practical joke, the story of how one woman sp-
ruced up her farm buildings and an anecdote
about a squirrel jumping out of a mail box
when a farm wife in Hoxie, Ark., went to pick
up an issue of a Reiman magazine.
Will people pay 50 cents an issue to read
mail from strangers? Reiman estimated he
needs 5,000 subscribers to break even. "My
controller rolled his eyes when I told him
about this," the publisher said, "but I think
there are a lot of lonely people in rural
America who would like to get more letters."
If initial reader reaction is typical, he's,
right. "I read about the new newsletter you're
going to publish," wrote one woman, "and I
can't wait to receive it. I'd love to get some
letters from farmers and ranchers who know
and understand my way of life."
EVEN AFTER more than a decade of
hearing from readers, Reiman said, the out-
pouring of response moves him. It is a
graphic affirmation that he picked the right
time and format for launching farm
magazines, despite the fact that the number
of farm families in the United States con-
tinues to decline.
The audience for Reiman publications is
nationwide and diverse in its farming in-
terests,, ranging from grape growers in New
York to hay farmers in Nevada and okra
growers in South Carolina.
The publications exude a brand of jour-
nalism that is alternately folksy and in-
spirational. If the writing sounds familiar in
all three magazines, it's because Reiman
himself does the final editing on almost every
piece of copy. "I found out several years ago

The Michigon Daily
u/ation
ierica
that there is one man who edits every
Harlequin romance book," he said. "So I'm
sticking with whatever formula I have."
FARM WIFE News includes fiction, a mon-
thly profile of a farm family, crafts, recipes
and articles on women and farming. Farm &
Ranch Living, ,a glossy bi-monthly that has
been described as "the National Geographic
-of farming," has lots of four-color pictures
and a circulation of 250,000 after a little more
than two years of operation.
Each issue features diaries from four far-
mers around the country, a continuing search
for the prettiest farmstead, and transcripts of
conference telephone calls set up by the
magazine between, farmers with vastly dif-
ferent approaches, points of view or crops.
In a recent issue, a ginseng farmer in
Missouri described his operation to a dairy
farmer in Illinois.
COUNTRY PEOPLE, a tabloid that's
published during the months that Farm &
Ranch Living isn't, has more copy and no
color photographs, but gained a circulation of
125,000 readers in less than a year.
All three make money. "I'd hate to tell you
how good the profits are," said Reiman.
"Most publishers get so hung up on adver-
tising that they think it's the only way to make
money. But they forget how much it costs
them to sell and print tlyse ads and pay for
the paper and postage to mail them."
Reiman Publications also has a healthy
mail-order division, where readers can order
items like T-shirts that state:- "Pork
Producers Are Hog Wild" or belt buckles
decorated with a likeness of the specific
brand of tractor they drive.
But it is the readers, not finances, that
Reiman keeps returning to in conversation.
"Farmers do want more out of life than just to
make money," he said. "Even with their busy
days, they take time to enjoy life, to laugh at
themselves. They really are the glue that
holds this country together."

PRESIDENT REAGAN
public, the government will undoub-
tedly censor information barely-if at
all-dealing with national security,
and deny the public its rights to
benefit from knowledge of such infor-
mation.
Steven Garfinkel, director of the In-
formation Security Oversight Office,
said the administration proposed the
plan becaus&'"'perhaps we have looked
too far away from security for
openness. However, he could not cite
any specific examples of such an over-
sight. President Reagan- has
repeatedly said he wants to "get
government off the backs of the
American people." If the new security
plan is accepted; it may also keep the
American people from ever getting on
the back of government.

01

Engel wrote this article for
News Service.

Pacific

,

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

0

Witt, you need a grammar class.. .

RMES THE PLAN -- E WAIT TI.L LkWEke
LEAVE IT ON SOME OPYS LAWN, AND RUN LIKE 4ELL*

To the Daily:
In "Why Are You Reading the
Daily?" (Daily, Oct. 20) Howard
Witt makes a confusing promise
that he is too confused to keep.
"I'm not . . going to try," he
says, "to address the Daily's
coverage (or lack of it) in this
column ... Instead, I wish to
discuss the nuts and bolts syntax
of every story [published in the
Daily], the simple mechanics of
writing." In fact he carries on at
length about the Daily's
coverage; and his curious con-
fusion of syntax and mechan-
ics extends from his declar-
ed intention throughout his
illustrative pastiche of
misspelled words and excerpted
clauses and sentences-only one
of which he attempts to discuss,
all of which he apparently per-
ceives as violations of the "basic
English grammar" that his
English professors "had to spend
half an hour reviewing" for his
"virtually illiterate" classmates.
And what a brave, botched at-
tempt it is-Witt's one discussion
of syntax! From an earlier Daily
he quotes this introductory
clause: "As if holding down a
full-time job and' going to
graduate school aren't
enough..." And thus he
discusses: "('Aren't' should have
been 'weren't'; it's that silly
thing known as the subjective
voice.)" Silly or not, that voice is
a new one under the sun-never
before conceived in the mind of
any of the grammarians whose
arcane taxonomy is- more than
Witt can handle.

It is "petty and nitpicky," as
Witt himself suggests, to quibble
as I have been doing with his
failure to know grammatical
mood from voice, the
mechanics of writing" from the
"basic grammar" of English. By
those who do know grammatical
concepts and control the terms of
grammatical analysis, we are
told that such inherently in-
teresting knowledge and power
arenotsdemonstrably related to
the mystery at the center of one's
"knowing how to write." For that
reason the "college students [of]
today"-most ,of whom, Witt
says, "don't know how to
write"-should, along with Witt
himself, take heart. What counts
for them as for Witt is, in his own
words, to "have a feel" - a "feel
for the English language," which
feel, Witt feels, some editors are
"simply" without.
Until he has time to master
some rudimentary grammatical
and rhetorical distinctions, Witt
should assume a somewhat more
subjunctive mood on the topic of
his contemporaries' literacy. The
virtually illiterate condition that
he imputes to them is contrary,
as it happens, to fact. And if one
must believe that "in the end" he
is "kind of disgusted," one can
hope that Witt's "end" will be for
him really a beginning. As one of
his English professors might tell
him: "If grammatical analysis is
really your bag, transcend your
disgust; be dispossessed of your
quaint misconceptions; take a
course or two in the grammar of
English. 'In order to possess what

you do not possess/ You must go
by the way of dispossession.' "
To which, if it were any of my
business to counsel Witt, I would
add: "Please do read the Daily
again; wipe that 'dense fog' out of
U.S.: End alp
To the Daily:
The .American Friends Service
Committee perspective on the
pending arms sale to Saudi.
Arabia is shaped by a firm com-
mitment to non-violence, a con-
cern for the security and well-
being of all the peoples of the
region, and a desire tb see the
United States play a positive role
in nurturing justice and peace in
the Middle East.
Adherence to these principles
leads the AFSC to oppose
unequivocally the $8.5 billion ar-
ms sale now pending before
Congress.
Proponents argue that the sale
of AWACS, F-15 fuel tanks, and
Sidewinder air-to-air missiles to
the Saudi government is
necessary to buttress a pro-U.S.
"strategic consensus" in the
region, or in other words, an in-'
formal anti-Soviet alliance. They
cite the fall of the Shah and Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan as
evidence of the need for a new
regional consensus.
A consensus that depends on
yet more arms sales, plus a rapid
deployment force and U.S. bases
throughout the Indian Ocean is an
invitation to more, rather than
less potential for violence and in-
stability in the*Middle East. The
violence and instability; stem
from political;, economic, and
social conflicts that are in-
digenous, not from Soviet ac-
tions.
Past experience does not in-
dicate that an artificial alliance
in the Middle East will improve
matters. Both the Bagdad Pact
and CENTO quickly floundered
because neither addressed' the
genuine issues of security and

-your eyes; and keep trucking."
--Bernard Van't Hul
Director; Introductory
Composition
LSA
arms sales

X ...., d.

;,,

prospective arms recipients, are
facing threats to their security,
then surely a better course would
be to address directly the.
political and economic problems
that are the root, causes of the
conflicts.
The most disturbing fact seems
to be increasing the potential for
war and violence. When all is said
about the capabilities of the
AWACS and other weapons
destined for Saudi Arabia, the
fact remains that the Saudi
government considers Israel its
prime enemy.
This fagt when placed
alongside Israel's demonstrated,
Willingness to strike at perceived
enemies without warning, raises
the distinct possibility that when
the arms are used, it will be by
one American ally against
another.
In oposing the proposed sale,
the A SC does not mean to single
out arms to Saudi Arabia for par-
ticular condemnation.
We stand opposed to all arms
transfers to the region regardless
of the source of supply or
recipient. We urgently cal for an
international agreement to stop
the flow of arms to the Middle
East. In the absence of such an
agreement, the imported
weapons have the effect of post-
poning political solutions to
political problems.
Instead of arms, the United
States should use its significant
influence to encourage the
-process of reconciliation between
peoples in the Middle East. This
means getting the Israelis and
Palestinians to negotiate.
Promoting such negotiations will
do far more for peace and

6
6

. ..but you were right

Congratulations to the Daily's
editors for publishing Howard
Witt's column "Why Are You
Reading the Daily?" (Daily, Oct.
20). Like Howard-Witt, I am no
longer a regular reader of the
Daily. My disaffection happens to
run back a couple of years to

One might as well know what sort.
of punishment the Daily's regular
readers inflict upon themselves
as they wait for the Daily to print
readable stories or give the im-
pression that all issues are not
decidedin advance.
Mr. Witt says that the editors
"don't like to hear their paper
c-rtir7.d_"anndd datum s inee~

i...-A'~ W~.. _____ N ... ~ .JI'I

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