Wednesday, December 12, 2012

LIZ SMITH: Are We “Over-Informed?” ...

Liz Smith, Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Deepak Chopra at PAL's 2012 Women of the Year Luncheon.
Media and Gossip in Our New World — It’s Tough! Are We “Over-Informed?”
Pals of PAL Gather For ... Me! Please Help Victims of Hurricane Sandy — Donate to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York. (This is an Organization I Really Trust!)
by Liz Smith
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

“THE media-winter of our discontent,” someone called it recently.

It occurs to me, as Newsweek goes digital, that I write a five-day-a-week column for at least six media outlets including the syndication company Tribune Media Services. (I probably have more readers now than when I was a hot number for many years at the New York Daily News, Newsday, the Staten Island Advance and New York Post.)

But reaction is vague. Is it because nobody reacts much because nobody pays any true attention to so-called “news” and “gossip” and “fashion” and “art” and “rock’n’roll” coverage?

Or perhaps because there is too much of it? “Sports” seems to me to be the only enthusiastic real-life coverage these days. (Oh yes, and “politics” — that is still cooking.)

Or is it just me?
Walter Winchell was on top of the world when he soared into the stratosphere with at least 400-600 newspaper outlets. He had a few competitors but no equals. But even Winchell got his comeuppance when The New York Mirror dropped him as it dissolved and only one person is known to have attended his funeral in L.A.

Is the lackadaisical approach to news because nobody believes anything lasts? They can just afford “to miss” the latest Internet, tabloid, dying magazine postings, just as lots of people don’t bother with television anymore either. Everybody is over-informed and very little of the “news” has any meaning to us.

It bombards us all the time from everywhere and there are millions of Facebook and Twitter reactions. They are good for selling things and publicity. But life goes on, scandal flares, and then everybody forgets about it.
I was sitting this week at the Police Athletic League fund-raising lunch with my hero, NY Police Chief Ray Kelly. He asked me in a mock sardonic tone if I remembered General Petraeus?

Oh, yes, I remembered him; that was several weeks ago. Ray and I then had an agreement about crime in NYC.

The tabloids make New York sound like a heartless crime festival, sensationalizing everything that happens — including the romantic life of Alec Baldwin.
L. to r.: Patricia Altschul, Liz Smith, and Dolly Lenz; Comissioner Ray Kelly and Richard Bernstein.
But here is a city of 8 million people and about 12 million come into Manhattan everyday from New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, etc. It would be almost statistically impossible if one or two lurid crimes didn’t happen daily in such a large city. But the tabloids try to scare us to death.

Well, about two weeks ago there wasn’t a single violent crime reported in all of New York’s five boroughs! “Ray,” I said, “we’re making progress.”
L. to r.: Margo Catsimatidis; Robert Morgenthau; Jamie Colby.
John Catsimatidis, Rick Friedberg, and Mark Simone.
The PAL lunch made more money this year than at any time in its history. They decided to give me the Lifetime Achievement Award for my 20-odd years of emceeing this event. All I want to do is have fun and keep up the energy and not have a program where everybody onstage thanks all the same people. So few deserve so much in the fight to mentor and help New York children.

The Catsimatidis family (Margo and John) was well-represented because she is a blonde dynamo and he’d announced that very day that he’d filed to run for Mayor of NYC ... The real estate maven Dolly Lenz was “right on” as our leader. PAL had chosen her as their real estate winner for so many years that finally they just named her for all-time. Former DA Robert Morgenthau and his talented wife, writer Lucinda Franks, John Osborn, Bob McGuire, Amelia Bernstein and Barbara Taylor Bradford remain the mainstays behind PAL.
L. to r.: Amelia Bernstein and Siobhan Schroth; John Osborn; Irina Laks, Lenore Cohen, Andrea Catsimatidis, and Maria Fishell.
Mark Simone subbed so well for me that I probably should retire and just give him the job, but I’d rather blackmail him into taking me out for a cocktail.

The fun of this charity lunch is all the good it does for New York children — after school programs, sports and mentoring. You should be supporting PAL; many of the very best businesses, corporations and banks consider it a great investment for a civilized future city. If you have no PAL in your town, you should go to the local cops and start one.
I am now hoping some of you out there will be generous for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, of which I am a proud member. These days we are all asked to contribute constantly to help out the tragedy-stricken, to stick to our tried and true charities, to toss coins in the pot.

Sometimes when I write a check to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the ASPCA and related charities, I get suspicious and hold back a little. I’m afraid next week there will be a big tabloid story about how somebody ran off with or misused the money. And, unfortunately, on the Internet especially, there are all kinds of fakers pretending to be authentic.

But I know nobody can steal or misuse the money from The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. I totally trust Mayor Bloomberg’s people who are all first-rate citizens.

They ask us please donate to the fund supporting “Sandy” restoration efforts. One hundred percent is providing essential living supplies to people totally devastated by these storms. Hot food, warm clothes, hygiene items.

Make checks payable to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC and add a memo “Hurricane Sandy Relief.” (The mailing address is: 253 Broadway, 8th floor, 10007.) Or go online to donate at Or phone 1-212-788-7794.The Mayor will see that it is done right and as he is the 11th richest person in the U.S., we know he isn’t going to steal the money.

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