Listeners Share Reactions To This Week's Show

Host Michel Martin and producer Jessica Deahl review audience responses to the past week's stories. A commentary on the loss of professional reporters and editors spurred a lot of debate, as did the show's interview with Ada Calhoun, author of the book Instinctive Parenting. A story covered earlier in the month, about a jailed Burmese-American pro-democracy activist in Burma, is revisited with an update. The activist, Nyi Nyi Aung, was released from Burmese custody this week.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our regular BackTalk guy is on vacation, so we've pressed Jessica Deahl into service. She's been talking with some of your this week, and she's here to share a few of your comments.

Hi, Jessica, what's up?

JESSICA DEAHL: Hey, Michel. So, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism reported this week, that news organizations are still hemorrhaging money and cutting staff. So, on Monday you did your commentary lamenting the loss of professional reporters and editors and you got a lot of response.

Keith Miller, from Dripping Springs, Texas, thinks that quality journalism has been disappearing for a long time.

Mr. KEITH MILLER: The journalists are not exercising their responsibility that goes with their privileges. I don't see champions of the common man asking hard questions. What I see are softball questions and then they report whatever the politicians say.

DEAHL: And Peter Davis, from Champagne, Illinois, agrees with Keith, but he thinks journalists and news consumers share responsibility for the sorry situation.

Mr. PETER DAVIS: Much of the problem is the incessant demand for instantaneous information. Too often in the current online age, news flashes across our screens that is undigested, raw, and very often completely misleading as a result.

MARTIN: Jessica, what else is causing a buzz out there?

DEAHL: So, we had Ada Calhoun on our show this week. She's the author of the book, "Instinctive Parenting." She wrote it after having her first child and at that point she was completely overwhelmed by the stacks and stacks of books about proper parenting. So she decided to write her own book to tell parents, hey, it's okay to tune out the experts and trust your innate parenting instincts. Well, this horrified one of our listeners - Gustavo Cavallin, a doctoral student in the psychology department at UT Dallas.

Mr. GUSTAVO CAVALLIN: How does the author know that intuition even works for her? Has she measured any developmental outcomes? Has she conducted longitudinal studies? Has she compared different population? I recommend everyone to look for advice from experts in the field of human development and always check the reliability of the sources.

MARTIN: Thanks, Gustavo. Okay, well, that's at least one vote for research. Anything else, Jessica?

DEAHL: Yeah. Well, we also did an interview this week with Kristina Wandzilak, who went from being addicted to drugs to cleaning up and becoming a family interventionist. A new reality series on TLC, called "Addicted," follows her in her work.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Addicted)

Ms. KRISTINA WANDZILAK (Host): My name is Kristina Wandzilak. When I was 14, I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. I turned to prostitution, robbed homes and dug through dumpsters to pay for my habit. I got help. I survived and today I am an interventionist.

DEAHL: Ben Coleman of Pawtucket, Rhode Island says these kinds of programs may be well-intended, but he still worries that they glamorize drug use.

Mr. BEN COLEMAN: We have a highly complex problem society and drugs for which I believe there is no elegant solution. These types of television shows could be part of the solution if they didn't use the act of drug use to build ratings. By showing drug use like this, they're just educating a new generation of abusers.

MARTIN: Thank you, Ben. Okay, Jessica, any updates?

DEAHL: One, actually. Back on March 3rd, we did a segment about Nyi Nyi Aung, an American pro-Democracy activist who was arrested and detained in Myanmar after he traveled there, where he was born, to visit his sick mother. We spoke with his lawyer and fianc´┐Ż about complaints that the U.S. government was not working hard enough to seek his release.

Well, on Tuesday, Aung was suddenly released and he is on his way home. Here is his American lawyer, Jared Genser, of the human rights group, Freedom Now.

Mr. JARED GENSER (Lawyer, Freedom Now): Well, we were absolutely thrilled at the turn of events. We've obviously been pushing very, very hard for Nyi Nyi Aung's release. We're very pleased that the State Department heeded our concerns and got quite engaged in his case and helped make this release happen.

DEAHL: And that's it for this week.

MARTIN: Thank you, Jessica.

DEAHL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And, remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Again, 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name and you can also log onto our Web site. Just go to NPR.org, click on programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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