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Lady Liberty, I will be the poet journalist at your side. This is my promise.

Lady Liberty, hold aloft again your sword. I will pen the record of your work. I will watch over you, Lady Liberty. Lady Liberty, I will protect you from those who would mar your honor with lies and distortions. Lady Liberty, I will guard your honor.

Friends, this very morning I was giving my “Journalism is a bad girlfriend” speech, and feeling bad for having given up on Journalism. And then the JSOnline comes out with this news story entitled “Mining legislation appears all but dead”.

I have seen some blatantly biased news reporting in the past, but this really does take the proverbial cake. Look at this fear-mongering headline, evoking life-or-death imagery juxtaposed over the image of Scott Walker at a home-town manufactory of mining equipment. It might as well be a campaign flier for Walker’s recall election campaign. And don’t forget how much impact Walker’s political advertisments will have on the paper’s bottom line. Clearly the paper’s management hasn’t.

But let’s look at the lead sentence. It’s even more blatently biased than the presentation:

Madison - The marquee job-creation bill of the Republican-controlled Legislature appeared all but dead Wednesday when a key holdout refused to support mining legislation that held out the possibility of work for thousands but could roll back environmental protections.

I’m not going to break down all the ways that there are implicit judgements in the phraseology of this lead sentence because such an exervise quickly becomes mired in pedantry and dictionary lawyering.

But I will offer, to my former employer the Journal Communications Company, free of charge, a re-written lead that least trys to appear fair.

Madison - The state senate is unlikely to muster the necessary support for a controversial mining-bill that Republican leaders in control of the legislature say could create significant jobs for Wisconsin’s struggling economy.

I would be tempted to argue that my version isn’t even really a fair representation of the situation, but at least it leaves room for the potential existence of an opposing viewpoint.

Between the coverage of the Orwellian approach to “public access” being practiced by the Capitol Media Cabal outlined in this brilliant report and this blatantly Pro-Walker/Pro-mining/Pro-Destruction of sacred lands coverage in the JSOnline, journalism has, again, inspired me and then broken my heart. Again.

I believe, in my heart of hearts that Lady Liberty needs journalism. That Journalism is as significant a tenet of a free people as is truth, justice and the pursuit of happiness. But what gets lost, I think, is that journalists – the best ones anyway– don’t have any rights or special powers that you and I, as a regular free and thinking citizens, already have.

The only difference between the kind of journalism I do today and the kind of journalism I did back when I was employed full-time as a reporter is that I don’t have a benefactor paying me 8 hours a day to do it.

It is so important for all of us to take back the fourth estate, and refuse to be bullied into silence. The corporate news machine is no longer a tool of the people. Say no to mass media– it’s only ever wanted to sell you something. You can start blogging tomorrow. For free. And get your story out there. Show Lady Liberty that you still care about her.

I have worked with some amazing journalists, some of whom I remain very fond of, and some of whom I, to this day, cannot stand. And every one of them, regardless of their political persuasion, would say that this coverage is shameful.

Lady Liberty, I will continue to be the poet journalist at your side. This is my promise.

Gaia Spotting

It's strange. I can never predict which photos at Flickr are going to be popular.
Serious Eats (by HeyGabe)

Big shout-out and thank you to the folks at SeriousEats who were kind enough to call Gaia "Adorable."

I'll pass on the discussion over whether this is a correct application of the creative commons license in favor of simply basking in my daughter's new found internet fame.

Oh Noes! Shitty Day for Rich People

Tagged as:

I'm back at work and I'm trying to wrap my head around what today's news on Wall Street really means to me.
This is the best I can come up with:

Shitty-Day-for-Rich-People (by HeyGabe)

I really like how one of my co-workers put it:
"I'm not really sure there will be much impact for those of us who cling to the hairs of the economic underbelly."

Take Down Notice

Got a take down notice from the Oconomowoc Enterprise at Ocono.com. I feel so grown up now.

Oh Internet, I am ready to give up on you and move to the Next New Thing.

On a totally unrelated note, I played through the first half-hour of Final Fantasy Seven again today while I was jogging in the basement. 1997 was a strange place in the video game world.

Fair Use Applies to us all, not just reporters

The AP really doesn't get it. I point you to Making Light:

The Associated Press ... has now published a web form through which intimidated parties can give the AP money in return for “permission” to publish as few as five words.

In this spirit, I will shortly be putting up my own Web form through which people can PayPal me money in exchange for my promise to not blow up the moon.

At least the RIAA dirtbags pretend that they're protecting copyright on behalf of the artists. (They're not, but that's a discussion for another day.) How much of those "permission" payments will end up in the hands of the AP member who wrote the article in the first place?

This is just another greedy money grab by the established fat-cats who see that their industry is dying and think that they can sue there way back to the 1950's when we had lots of trees to cut down so paper was cheap and people actually cared what the traditional press had to say.

But let's talk about the hypocrisy at work here. The press is happy to cry "fair use" when they're stealing beer can logos and clippings from private speeches in order to cover the news-- (in the sense that you _honestly_ consider everything that's not in the two main news sections of any given paper news).

This gets at the thing fundamentally wrong with the traditional press, and one of the main reasons I left it. The press seems to have forgotten that they aren't special. The tools of a good reporter are the same tools available to any member of the public. Reporters don't have any special rights or magic (beyond certain shield laws, which, believe me, have never been exercised on my behalf).

Friends in Familar Places

Tagged as:

RyanLee

My friend Ryanne from The Watertown Daily Times.

Honestly, I feel bad for Microsoft sometimes.

Microsoft is the Ziggy of the software industry. Think about it. Everybody knows who Ziggy is and most people hate him. And then some people take great pleasure drawing a nipple on his voluptuous nose.

Case in point: Today's ZDnet.com's article breathlessly entitled "XP SP3 performance gains - Nothing to write home about."

The article does little more than draw a giant nipple on Microsoft's voluptuous nose, running a series of benchmark tests on various computers to prove that what was essentially a hot-fix roll-up service pack doesn't magically accomplish something beyond the scope of it's intended design.

May I suggest the following story for next week's headlines at ZDnet: "XP Service Pack 3 does nothing to protect users from tiger attacks." Then we can all point and laugh at Microsoft for being so large and stupid that it can't see the implicit danger of tiger attacks and don't they have any engineers in Redmond they can throw at the tiger attack problem?

This kind of reporting is easy kicking at the cat. It's lazy journalism at best and irresponsible at worse.

I installed SP3 on an old laptop last night. The experience was less than flawless and less than easy, but you know what? I only had to reboot twice. That's roughly six times less than I would have had to reboot in a pre-SP3 world. And that, in my opinion, is a service pack done right.

Not Covering Oconomowoc

Tagged as:

A church on Wisconsin Avenue freakin' exploded, man! Ask me what it was like on scene! Ask me!
I don't Freakin' know! I don't cover breaking news any more!
I've been quietly blogging at Ocono.com for a month or so, and today was the first time since I left Journalism that something happened in the city that I kind of secretly wish I could cover.
Of course, breaking news isn't really Ocono.com's forte, but I thought a Google news search was probably in order. You hate to leave your readers looking for news you're not offering them, but you hate to pretend news isn't happening.

A fun new game: Good Comic, Bad Comic

The Wauwatosa Public Library has a great and growing Graphic Novel collection. It's given me access to a lot more Graphic Novels than I'll typically get a chance to read. So, here are  reviews two of my latest grabs from the Library, presented in photographic and minimalist terms.

Good Comic.

Good Comic

Bad Comic.

Bad Comic

Media Report

After this post made was highlighted at the Consumerist, I got a call from a local radio station to tell the story. I love the Consumerist! Not just for the traffic, but because the kind of Journalism the consumerist does is Journalism that matters.
So, this morning, I did a ten minute segment on Glen Gardner's morning show at WTDY in Madison. Didn't have my recording setup at home with me, so I didn't capture the interview to share, but I did have a nice conversation. My favorite part was when we started talking about how Justice was really my motivating factor.

Regardless, it seems like a decent station that WTDY.

Also, my brother-in-law Jessie made a cameo on Fox 6 last night. I'm not really sure what he's doing there with that plank, but that's ok. He had to have tons of dental work once because of an accident that happened while he was working on my car.
Fox6's links go away after a time, but here's a screencap: