Frontier Former Editor

January 11, 2009

Nothing like conflicting emotions.

Filed under: journalism, newspapers, observations, old times — Tags: , — Frontier Former Editor @ 6:24 pm

The first newspaper managing editor I ever worked for died last Friday (01-09-09). After two years in his newsroom, I found myself with little respect for him as a manager or a journalist. I can’t speak for him as a family man, but I do remember several incidents concerning him that still leave a bad taste in my mouth 17 years later.

One that still galls me is when I covered the Southmountain Mine underground explosion in 1992.

After two days of waiting in barely above-zero weather to see if men had died, and of watching certain people parade around for publicity, I returned to Bluefield. The managing editor had saved a copy of an Associated Press wire photo from  the site where I was in the background. He dressed me down because I wasn’t wearing a tie.

That was one of the minor episodes.

The man, in my estimation, worried more about making his community look good (and, by extension, making himself look good to the community) than doing good for the community. I know of one example where he suppressed a story because it would have exposed a family member to public questions of why that family member might have, at best, ignored a criminal financial transaction.

The reporter writing his obituary (not the link above) was also a personal acquaintance from the period. His effort lived down to my expectations of him. Perhaps he’s expecting either that the man will be coming back from the dead, or that he’ll get the job.

I’m sorry for the man’s family.

I can say that he did inspire me by his example . . . to avoid following his example at all costs.

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July 12, 2008

To the tall comely redhead of Irish descent with fierce hands and a huge heart (not to mention three cats).

Filed under: blogging, fake journalism, journalism, newspapers, politics — Tags: , , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 9:39 pm

Stiletto suggested that I try and convince you to start a blog.

Seeing that you have some appreciation for reporters, yes, you should start a blog and for some very good reasons, such as:

  • Lou Dobbs. Express your disgust for pandering, middle-age, modern-day Know-Nothings and mugwumps who cite thinly-veiled racism as a justification for a Father Knows Best smugness and self-serving garbage. And not all of them are white, middle aged or male, either.
  • ‘New Journalism.’ What was wrong with ‘old journalism,’ where you went out and reported fairly, factually and in context about what mattered in one’s community and country, regardless of how uncomfortable and infuriated it made the subjects or the readers, and where good reporters and editors knew how to keep their beats at the proper arm’s length while getting to know everyone who had a stake in knowing just what in hell was going on behind government and business doors?
  • Entertainment journalism. The biggest f’in oxymoron since Bush’s ‘compassionate conservatism’ and ‘military intelligence.’
  • Ambrose Bierce. Sometimes a reporter needs to stand up during an interview and tell the subject – especially a politician, policeman, lawyer, judge or other appointed official – ‘bullshit’ and have the education and background to make it stick.
  • Reading. Reading anything – especially anything other than a journalism or web design textbook – can broaden a young reporter’s mind. Read up on how sewer and water treatment works. Snag a copy of your local school system’s curriculum to seem just what in hell they are teaching. Read that piece of legislation to see just what’s tucked in among ‘the good this bill will bring to our constituents.’ Read anything about the nuts and bolts of your particular beat. Read some damn history. Read a probability and statistics textbook so you can start to understand some of the statistical BS flowing from your local, state and federal government.
  • History. Again, read lots and lots of history. Read about Jesse Jackson standing on the balcony of a Memphis hotel and see what kind of perspective it puts around him wanting to see Barack Obama’s nuts cut off. Read about Nixon – that alone is a textbook on the last 40 years of American politics.
  • Faith. Learn to discern between faith and pseudo-religious bullshit. Go back and read some theology (and not the damn tracts and free inspirational scripture you find laying around these days.) Read about Martin Luther, Francis of Assisi, the Popes, the Protestant movement in all its guises, Islam, Judaism, Orthodoxy, atheism, agnosticism, Shintoism, Buddhism, religious reformations and counter reformations, and then realize just how little you and we all know. Then go back and read more.
  • The world. If you’ve done any of the above, you may have noticed that the world is a cruel, faddish and nasty place tolerable only because people still manage to show some humanity. Do what you can and don’t get discouraged because the cruelty and stupidity seem endless. The capacity for humanity is pretty endless too.
  • Humor. You gotta laugh at some of the crap that goes on, and sometimes humor is the best way to corner and kill it.

Besides, maybe Stiletto will let you run some pictures of her all oiled up and wearing nothing but a towel.

Oh yeah, and there’s Krispy Kreme donuts too . . .

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