In Medias Res

So I haven’t posted in the last several days because I spent most the week chasing down stories more complicated than I understand. I spent so much time at conversations with people that didn’t result in stories that I wound up scraping for stories by the end of the week. Whenever I write a story I usually only put 25 percent of what I’ve learned into the paper. The rest is background and information to make sure I can explain it effectively. With what I’m looking at now, that isn’t the case. It is so vast and complex I’m treading water trying to comprehend it all.
Laidlaw and Clean Power — two companies the city has been fighting over since long before I arrived. What does each one represent? How many jobs would each bring, and what kind of jobs would they be? Can the forest sustain both? What sort of neighbors will they make? These are big issue to some people, and so they have to be to me too. The Reporter is the residents’ paper first and my paper second; if an issue is important to them it is important to me. It’s just up to me to explain it.
But this issue is different than explaining the city’s marketing problem, or its blue collar mindset. It’s different than recounting a city council meeting, or explaining the RSA 155B process, or profiling a restaurant. It’s about power purchase agreements, and PUC rules, and least cost options. It’s about Ellicottville, NY, and Portsmouth, and Concord, and Berlin. It’s about power, and it’s about power.
I don’t care about debates; I care about facts. Will a biomass plant look like hell in the center of town? Sure, if your priority is scenery and a tourism economy, but not if your priority is industrial jobs. I’m not looking for scenery, and I’m not looking to cover fluff. That discussion belongs in an article about marketing, not in one about power. The real questions I’ve got involve substance.
I find myself in the middle of a debate I don’t know the history of, expected to get to the root of it to explain to the people who were around for it. This is a blog, and not the place where I actually report; that’s in the paper, where more people actually care what I write and it affects people’s lives. People in Berlin seem to have already made up their minds about this issue, and I’m not sure they’ve done so on evidence. More often it seems they decided on gut feelings. I’m going to find evidence to prove whether those gut feelings are right or whether they’re crap. Love Laidlaw? I want to show you it’s evil. Hate Laidlaw? I want to prove their perfect. My goal is to test every hypothesis from every side, to tap it and poke it until the actual facts fall to the floor screaming, “Here I am! Here I am! Just leave me alone!”
Berlin’s economic future it tenuous, but the sun is rising after years of black. The residents deserve to know how their actions (or inaction) will affect them. I’ve heard that my stories have brought new customers to businesses struggling to survive. They have breathed life into things formerly dormant. The city of Berlin needs something to believe in, I hear. I can’t deliver something to believe in, but they’ll be able to believe the Berlin Reporter.
I’m not sure if this is a threat, or who it goes out to. To a reporter, truth is thicker than water. If you live in Berlin I wouldn’t expect to stop hearing about this issue anytime soon. And expect to hear from some voices you haven’t heard before. This is why I chose this profession. Now I get to see what I can do.

4 thoughts on “In Medias Res

  1. Perhaps I can jump start getting your feet wet. The appropriate place to start is to call William Northrup in Ellicottville for two reasons. One, he sold the mill in Ellicottville to Laidlaw, and two he has an electric ATV business (talk about a green machine that would put Berlin on the map-go for it Eric) Here's some links to update you in a hurry as to the complexity of the Laidlaw matter. Good luck. Jon Edwardshttp://buffalo.bizjournals.com/buffalo/stories/2009/04/13/daily13.htmlhttp://www.greenenergyfacts.com/images/Article_78_reply_papers_1-18-08.pdfhttp://buffalo.bizjournals.com/buffalo/stories/2009/04/13/daily13.html

  2. Sorry, Forgot another important link. After typing in this link, click on "wrong company for Berlin" Jon Edwardshttp://citythattreesbuilt.com/index.php/component/maxcomment/?task=report&id=226&cid=19

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