DEAR SUN SPOTS: Rebuilding Together Lewiston-Auburn is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to repairing homes of those who, due to financial hardship, age and/or disability, cannot do the work themselves. RTLA is supported entirely by contributions of time, labor, material and money.

Skilled and unskilled volunteers, along with able-bodied members of the recipient’s family and friends, complete the repairs at no cost to the homeowner. The work is conducted on one weekend in April.

Lewiston-Auburn residents who are having trouble keeping their homes safe and warm and meet the criteria can fill out an application. RTLA usually accepts six to 10 houses to repair.

RTLA house applications can be found at Keller Williams Auburn, 195 Center St., 207-344-3300. — Todd Gagne, [email protected]

DEAR SUN SPOTS: In your response to my question about the RT Channel having been dropped by Time Warner Cable (Feb. 25), you referred me to a website that looks at the world from the far left. Just curious as to why you thought I might be interested in a far-left viewpoint? Do you believe that the RT Channel has a far-left viewpoint? Thank you. — Steve Swan, [email protected]

ANSWER: Sun Spots doesn’t know anything about Russia Today — as her first (wrong) answer showed — and has no reason for thinking of it as liberal. Russia itself is generally thought of as a conservative society.

Sun Spots isn’t sure why she recommended Democracy Now, other than it covers international politics and there aren’t nearly as many news organizations covering the world as there were in the past. Or so she’s heard.

Sun Spots headed online to check out that premise and found the following information in an article from the December/January 2011 American Journalism Review (http://ajrarchive.org/article.asp?id=4985).

“Eighteen newspapers and two chains have shuttered every one of their overseas bureaus in the dozen years since AJR first surveyed foreign coverage for the Project on the State of the American Newspaper (see “Goodbye, World,” November 1998). All but two of them eliminated their last bureau sometime after 2003, the year the United States invaded Iraq and the last time AJR conducted the survey. Many other papers and chains reduced their coterie of foreign correspondents, meticulously choosing which bureaus to close. What’s more, an untold number of regional and local papers have dramatically decreased the amount of foreign news they publish. Television networks, meanwhile, slashed the time they devote to foreign news and narrowed their focus largely to war zones.

“Remarkably, NPR is the only mainstream media organization that serves up a heartier foreign report, with more bureaus and correspondents than in the past, to a chiefly American-based audience, according to the survey. While Bloomberg News also has opened more foreign bureaus, a majority of the terminals where their stories appear are overseas. The “big four” national newspapers — the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times — all continue to have vibrant foreign reports, though each has closed some foreign bureaus in recent years.”

Sun Spots wonders if readers are concerned about this change in focus or if they prefer more local news?

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]


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