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Local News

I rarely link to Duncan, but today he hit on one of my pet peeves with the entire media: local news.

He agrees with me, and most reasonable people that the convention wisdom in the media business that “you can’t make money with local news”, is totally backwards. Local news is the one thing you can’t get on a thousand outlets on line, like the AP stories that fill too many papers.

When I came back to this area about two decades ago, you could get local news from the Puppy Trainer, a couple of local radio stations, and even some coverage of the bigger stories in the Pensacola News Journal, and Channel 3 in Pensacola. These days, you would be surprised to discover we have local governments, unless someone gets arrested.

If you hear a dozen sirens go by, don’t expect to read about it in the local paper, which is often smaller than most volunteer newsletters. What is the point of subscribing if they aren’t going to cover the local news.

We have all of these new sources of information, but there is almost no local reporting anymore to feed into them. People are dependent on press releases from politicians, rather than factual reporting by local reporters. Could the Sheriff’s Office have gotten so far off the track if a local reporter was watching them?

If the local paper isn’t going to report the local news, what is its reason for existing?

January 21, 2010   7 Comments

Aside The Point

Possibly the most vexing comment in history, after Henry II supposedly said “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” [Which made Thomas Becket a saint… well a martyr first] has to be the head note in the US Supreme Court case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, which has been used to justify “corporate personhood”.

It is important to note that there is absolutely no actual reference to the concept in the Court’s opinion in that case, just a reference by a court reporter in his preface. Nonetheless, that has been used to support a host of ills in the American system, most recently today’s decision on the campaign finance law.

In the CBS coverage, Supreme Court Ruling Will Cause Major Upheaval in Campaigns, there is something odd:

I just left the courtroom, where justices spent 30 minutes on the bench discussing this landmark case. Justice Anthony Kennedy, reading from his majority opinion, emphasized that Congress may not censor or regulate political speech, whether it’s a person doing the talking or a corporation or union.

That’s at the core of the First Amendment, Kennedy said, and laws banning speech infringe those basic constitutional protections. Kennedy also pointed out that under those laws, Congress also could diminish the voice of the media business if it chose. Government, he said, may not suppress political speech on the basis of a speaker’s identity.

The odd bit is Mr. Justice Kennedy saying that “…Congress also could diminish the voice of the media business if it chose.” Excuse me, Mr. Justice, but did someone omit the bit about “freedom of the press” from your copy of the Bill of Rights? It’s in there, trust me on that. Maybe you should read it a little more closely.

I wonder if these guys realize that in addition to people like Alan Grayson being replaced by a Disney employee in the Mousetown district, al Qaeda et al. can no longer be banned from running ads on cable if they incorporate.

Call me a traditionalist, but I really think you should be qualified to vote in the country before you get to affect our elections. Voting, after all, is the ultimate form of political speech.

January 21, 2010   4 Comments