Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

Lynn Horsley – “A Local Paper” Plays it Loose with Facts and Attribution

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

The relationship between blogs and newspapers is often tense. Back in the Golden Days of the Star, I argued that bloggers and journalists are not equivalent, but the truth is that sometimes solid reporting happens on blogs, and sometimes loose copying happens in newspapers.

Witness this morning’s Kansas City Star, where Lynn Horsley resorts to cut-and-paste journalism, stealing a paragraph from this blog without attribution beyond a reference to “a local blog”.

I’m amused more than angry, and Lynn Horsley need not worry about hearing from my lawyers for her theft without proper attribution. She did the exact same thing that Tony’s Kansas City (a local joke blog, for those who don’t follow such things) did, but at least Tony had the blogger ethics to include me in his blogroll, even if he didn’t cite his source in the text of his article.

The shocking thing, though, is how thin a reed this story was built upon. Lynn Horsley doesn’t know me, and, for all she knows, I completely made up my post about Beth not seeking re-election. Or I could have been fooled by someone “leaking” such news to me. She didn’t even call me or email me to make sure the blog posting was the truth before she published. I published the release, Tony copied it, and that’s all it takes for the Star to put it in the paper. Lynn Horsley even had the nerve to publish that Beth Gottstein, the subject of her article, “could not be reached for comment.” What about reaching her for confirmation, Ms. Horsley?

Folks, that’s real sloppiness in the Kansas City Star, and it’s fortunate that this won’t be blowing up in Horsley’s face. But if Lynn Horsley wants to dismissively refer to Gone Mild as a nameless “local blog” – as if I’m too lowly to warrant a mention in her esteemed newspaper – she ought to act like a real journalist herself.

And she really ought to tighten up her standards before April 1.

Everyvoter – Back from Vacation

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

It’s been more than a month since I’ve written anything here. It’s time to start this thing up again.

The unannounced vacation got started for a lot of reasons. But the biggest factor was taking an actual vacation – a week in the mountains of Colorado, hanging out with my wife and friends, fishing, drinking great beer, making and enjoying great meals, and doing almost anything but worrying about the local politics around this city.

On the drive across Kansas on the way back home, I realized I had spent the week at the same level of political engagement that fits the vast majority of voters. I was Everyvoter.

Go up to the average voter on the street, and ask which city district they live in. Most of them will look at you blankly, and say, “umm . . . the 48th?”. But a select few of us will narrow our eyes, and think it’s a trick question. “Did they pass a redistricting plan today?”

Most voters couldn’t name their State Representative. A select few of us can recite the biography of ours.

Most voters are vaguely aware that we will soon have a Mayoral race. A select few of us have our demographic analysis and elaborate predictions of who will emerge from the primary.

In a very real sense, my time in Colorado allowed me to see things through the eyes of Everyvoter, not the hyper-engaged, over-informed eyes of the “select few”. And it was kind of refreshing.

While I’ve been “on vacation”, I’ve started a new job, brewed some good beer, worked on a business plan for the coolest entrepreneurial project I’ve ever dreamed of, and I have not focused on the County Courthouse, City Hall, or Jefferson City. I haven’t worried about voicing my opinions, because I haven’t bothered forming them.

Well, it’s time to come back.

Star – No News is Bad News

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Monday, the KC Free Press published my thoughts on labor’s desperate attempt to get one last favor out of Henry Rizzo before he loses to Crystal Williams. This morning, the KC Star ran the same thing, anonymously rehashing my analysis into their own words, but adding a nice bit about how Fred “I’m NOT Running – Oh, Wait, Maybe I Am” Arbanas is pathetically seeking labor support to avoid being ousted by Terry Riley.

I’m not complaining about the Star using me for analytical guidance – I applaud them for that. Editorially, they can gain much from following the lead of bloggers, who are often more insightful and creative than their stable of entrenched former journalists. (Maybe there’s something in the walnut wood polish that causes weariness?)

The point that ought to outrage intelligent and alert Kansas Citians is the fact that THE STAR HAS NOT WRITTEN A SINGLE NEWS PIECE ON RIZZO’S AND ARBANAS’ SELL-OUT TO LABOR!

The only place Star subscribers can read about labor’s scheme to seize control of county contracts is in the editorial pages, where it’s been mentioned twice. Today’s article and last week’s article are merely editorials, opinion pieces unsupported by factual reporting from the news sections of the paper.

This is a real and serious problem, and it says volumes about the sinking of a once-great paper. The news sections ought to be the driving force of the paper – the place where the facts are gathered and the secrets exposed. And the editorial page ought to be where the editors get to analyze and opine about the news covered in the meaty news sections.

At the Star now, the news offerings are so meager that the editorialists have found it necessary to “go rogue” and bring forth facts that no reporter has gotten around to actually writing up as news. You can’t find a single news article even mentioning the proposal, but the editorial page has deemed it important enough to address twice.

When the news division of the paper is so weak that it does not have the resources to cover enough news to keep up with the editorial writers, the newspaper has lost its purpose.

7 Years of Blogging

Friday, June 4th, 2010

7 years and almost 1900 posts ago, I started this blog as a place to practice my writing skills.  Since then, I’ve had a lot of fun with it, written a few things I’m proud of, a few that I regret, and generally let it evolve.  I can’t say that posting a few paragraphs most mornings has made me into the Hemingway I wanted to be, but it has had other rewards.

From topic choice through level of insight and certainly including editorial skills, this has been a completely personal project.  What’s good about it reflects my own personality, and what’s bad about it reflects my own weaknesses and flaws.  I’m flattered that you choose to read it.

Blog Mechanics

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Going to try to migrate my blog to a new system this morning. Times like this make me wish I understood technology better . . .

Partyng with the Tea Baggers

Monday, April 12th, 2010

On Saturday, I went to the “Taking Our Country Back” Tour at the Sprint Center. It was a whole lot less impressive than I thought it would be. I’m not sure if the place was air-conditioned, or if the presence of Karl Rove sent a chill through the air.

If you’re interested, I wrote a lot more about it at KCFreePress.com.

Courageous Mental Health Blogging

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Todd Elkins has been blogging about his struggles with mental health, even to the point of listing his medications and their costs in a series of posts about how he manages to get his hands on the medications he needs. If he were writing about a struggle with some variety of cancer, he’d be lauded as courageous. Because the illness is mental, though, he draws haters and even his supporters, like me, tend to lurk in silence because it’s not a topic we’re accustomed to being honest about.

Keep up the good work, Todd, and thank you for offering a window into a world many of us are too chicken to look at.

Politics Elsewhere

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit, but that’s just a temporary thing. If you care to read more, I’m doing a weekly post for KCFreePress.com. This week’s piece addresses the efforts to increase the role of money in selecting Missouri’s judges.

Free Beer AND Free Chocolates?!

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Some bloggers get all the love – Drunk Monkey pens a favorable review of his free Boulevard Dark Truth Stout, acknowledging he got the beer and a box of Christopher Elbow Chocolates from the Brewery.

My agent is in negotiations with the Brewery, and it looks like we’ll have to go into arbitration. So far, all they’re offering is an out-of-date aluminum bottle of their wheat beer, and a fun-size bag of Skittles left over from Halloween.

Drunk Monkey does convince me, however, that the beer is good enough to buy.

Decorating with Books

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Books have lost their prominent position in my life.

Books continue to fill shelves throughout my house, they crowd my nightstand, and a trip to the bookstore is an expensive outing, but the ones on the shelves are decorations, the ones on my nightstand are a 2 minute distraction before sleep, and my purchases are mere good intentions. I don’t read books anymore.

Of course, that is a bit of an exaggeration. I read the informative parts of cookbooks, and a new book on brewing will be devoured in days. I browse poetry books to give me something to write about on Sundays. But I cannot recall the last time I picked up a meaty work of fiction and read myself into a new world.

Last week, a younger friend told me she had finished reading “A Soldier of the Great War“, possibly my favorite novel. She loved it. I was flattered she had invested the time to read such a lengthy book on my recommendation, but, internally, it struck me that I had read the book more than a decade ago, and, if she were to ask me for a recommendation from the vast store of great books written in the past 5 years, I would be a dry well. I was a little jealous of the reading experience she had just been through. I don’t really read books anymore.

I read lots of other things, and a lot of it has real quality. Much of the blog world amounts to an elaborate melding of created personae, real world events and selected fiction. Real creativity can be found on the pages of Frighteningly Uncommon Sense, Observant Bystander, and most of the other blogs on the left side of this page. There’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.

But it’s not a substitute for really sinking into a great novel. I want to spend the time inside a character’s skin, and experience life in a way I haven’t yet imagined. I want to ride on a raft down the Mississippi; I want to be honestly human in World War II; I want to pursue Fermina until she deems me worthy.

Over the next several months, I may miss a few more blog posts, and I might fall behind on Facebook updates. I hope to be a bit more absent. I’ve got plenty of decorations to choose from in this house.