Friday, August 17, 2012

More Red And Black Background

Atlanta's Jim Walls (former employee of a 100 year old newspaper) has more details in the Red and Black controversy; including the background of the apparent center of controversy, board member Ed Stamper.
Stamper’s background might explain why he had to “guess” what journalism is. He was general manager of the Red & Black in 1979-80, then spent the better part of four years in advertising positions at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
I didn't mention the memo in my first post because it's origin and purpose is unclear; although the publisher has admitted it was a mistake to let students see it.

My favorite part of the memo?

– Content that catches people or organizations doing bad things
Let's start a list of "bad things" that shouldn't have been reported:  Watergate, Iran Contra, Abscam, Atlanta School Cheating scandal, Bill Campbell, etc., etc.

Arrogance Versus Idealism

Athens venerable Red and Black, the student led independent newspaper, is having quite a week.

On Wednesday, several key staff members walked out. The students allege the board and advisers are fundamentally changing the mission of the paper. Since only one side is talking, it's unclear if the charges hold true or if they are an overreaction to inevitable change.

My first inclination was to doubt the students. It's easy to say, I was young once, but there is a period of everyone's life where naive idealism can overwhelm reason and prudence. When you are first learning the ways of the world, the urge to punch first, talk later, is strong.

But then I read the following quote from the head of UGA's Journalism department, Kent Middleton.
"We want a strong and thriving Red and Black and I hope the students will go in and make it that way. ... They can't be as effective journalists outside The Red and Black.
What an interesting world view from one of the "adult" leaders in Athens little journalism world. I peer at my twitter stream this morning and see quite a bit of journalism going on. Some of it being generated by 100 year old newspapers. A lot of it not.

Perhaps, Kent can stroll across town and have a cup of coffee with Athens Banner Herald Editor Jim Thompson, who four years ago said,

In the end, then, whatever the media platform, what it means to be a journalist today is what it always has meant...It's not a matter of training...It's a matter of trust.
The Red and Black will hold an open house this afternoon. My suggestion is throw wide every door, answer all questions truthfully, with painful honesty and let go of the gatekeeper mentality. The "kids" may be naive and they may stumble into corners, but at least they recognize the world is changing and the openings of the ivory towers now transit in both directions.

Follow the self-exiled student staff of the Red and Black on twitter at @redanddead815 or visit their website at

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fever In Florida

Another incumbent got primaried down Florida way.

Oh, James, you say, it's all the rage! Just look at Lugar and that Texas fella! Probably just another tea party insurgent giving the well deserved swift kick to another establishment, country club attendin', pearl clutchin' Rockefeller Republican.

Well not exactly.

In this case, the incumbent was Cliff Stearns. Sure, he's been there 24 years. I guess you could call him establishment. But he's more famous for something else; holding the hearings that led to the Susan G. Komen / Planned Parenthood ugliness. He's also stirred the pot on Solyndra. Stearns congressional record reads like a segment script of the Sean Hannity show with a little Mark Levin spittle smeared around for good measure.

Didn't matter. In the pockets of deep conservatism, like you will find in the fields around Gainesville and Ocala, bonafides don't really matter any more.

There's a stark lesson there. I continue to wonder - will we ever reach the point where people will realize, it don't matter how crazy fervent you are, someone will always act crazier plunge deeper into the fever.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Politics Of Welfare

Why It Is Crap.

Politifact has a brutal take down. But if Politifact isn't your cup of tea, let someone who actually worked on Welfare Reform explain.

At the request of several Governors, notably certain Republican Governors, the Department of Health and Human Services is allowing flexibility in how states implement the work requirement in Welfare Reform. But the requirement is still there.

What you have is a 15 year old program where reporting and implementation requirements are rather arcane and the Feds are allowing states, under certain circumstances, to experiment with making it less about number crunching and more about getting people jobs.

It's about less federal control. It's about letting the states act as laboratories to guide policy. It is in fact......Reaganesque.

Why This Won't Matter.

To some welfare will always be a hand out. In some political circles, you would think the calendar just skipped right over 1996 (the year welfare reform went into effect).

It will work because despite every poll showing a majority favoring a safety net, there is a deep seeded resentment against the perception of people getting something for nothing. And Romney's simple narrative wrenches that raw nerve straight into the toxic air of politics.

And in politics, it's not the lie that counts; it's the effects.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Paging The Sierra Club!

Hi there, my environmentally focused friends. Remember how you joined the "Plan B" coalition to defeat the T-SPLOST because it didn't have enough rail? And how your new BFFs, the Atlanta Tea Party (conveniently located in Dacula) promised to support your bid to get rail?

Governor "Let's Not Make A" Deal has some news from you. From the AJC Politics twitter feed:
@GovernorDeal says Tuesday's vote "slams the door on further expansion of our rail network anytime soon".
My, oh my! It sure is swell you guys have a "list", er, I mean a "plan". Actually having political power to put in it place would be even better! Dontcha think?

Good Morning, Welcome To Plan B!

TSPLOST lost. As we all knew it would. So time to move on to Plan B! it is!
The Plan B that staggered out of the governor’s office will be its polar opposite: Dramatically smaller, paid for with shrinking funds, and highly centralized. Projects will be hand-picked by a governor who intends to squeeze every penny available.
Projects selected by the Governor, executed by the DOT.

Welcome to the revolution. Same as it ever was.