A Quick CDS Video

Somedays at work are tough. Other days rock. This was a day of work a week and a half ago, but the story just ran this weekend:



The full story about the trailwork is here. They’re meant to work as a package, so you know what you’re looking at. If I ever complain about how hard my work is, be sure to remind me of this day!

Encouraging Words

The Ron Paul interviews are approaching 7,000 views, and when I got into work today I got this encouraging email:


As the last print journalist, I understand where Mr. McDanel is coming from. The coverage of the Casey Anthony trial (of which I know next to nothing) adds so little to our public discourse, and yet hundreds of millions of dollars have been devoted to it. The substance of what candidates actually stand for, meanwhile, is crucial to our democracy. If people aren’t informed they can’t self-govern. Newspapers still play a crucial role in this. It’s good some people still recognize it.

On the other hand it’s too bad it takes a video posted on YouTube to make someone appreciate newspapers again. Hopefully that isn’t a sign of the print apocalypse.

Berlin, once again

I heard the news of the death of the Laidlaw Berlin Biopower project on NHPR last week, and the information has been trickling in ever since. I’m not sure what to think. I have always understood both sides of that argument — some people for it, some against, based on whether they needed jobs now or could wait for some better future down the road. Now it’s gone, the federal prison is on hold, and the state prison survived after some threats by the department of corrections. Where is Berlin headed? I wish I knew. I’m not there nearly as much as I was, but I still make it up there far more than I ever did before I worked there. And I still think about how to get back there. What will it be? Who will work there? I think it’s like most working class places — dying out. The fact is the socioeconomic strata that the mill supported has evaporated in the United States. Portland, Maine, and Portsmouth are clear examples of what happens next: they get turned into upscale apartments that the former working class residents can’t afford. Will that happen in Berlin? It already is, but it hasn’t become a trend yet. We’ll see if it reaches that tipping point. And we’ll see how the people that trend edges out react. It looks to be an interesting time, for sure…

Recruiting Disciples

We got to sit down with GOP contender Ron Paul last Friday for 45 minutes of discussion in the office. I videoed all of it, and now it is on YouTube. And it’s on fire.

The first clip has more than 3,500 views. I posted it three days ago. The other two clips (each one about 15 minutes) have almost 800 and more than 400 views. They both went up yesterday. They are all high definition, so they took around six hours to upload. Combined with the holiday weekend and it didn’t happen in an instant.

But the disciples flocked almost instantly. People love Ron Paul. His message resonates. Newt and Giuliani got around 100 and less than 50 views, respectively. Ron Paul is getting 35 and 70 times as many views.

But you have to wonder whether all that fervor can translate into a candidacy, and whether a Paul 2012 candidacy would be electable come next November.

You can hear me ask RP that in one of the segments. He says he is electable because his time has come, and the issues he’s championed for 30 years are now in vogue. He also said he is willing to be bipartisan, reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats on certain legislation.

But Paul’s steadfast adherence to his values is both a good thing and a problem. While it is refreshing to talk to a politician who doesn’t seem like he’s shifting with public opinion, the only time Ron Paul works with the opposition is when they see eye to eye with him. He is uncompromising in the most literal meaning of the word. That unwillingness to compromise means he often doesn’t, even if at times that makes him ineffectual.

But his honesty and integrity draw supporters. It’s probably much easier to get behind a candidate like Paul than one like Romney, who changes his positions repeatedly on important issues, but it isn’t as easy to get a guy like Paul into office. Despite three decades in Washington, Paul is still an outsider. Romney would work within Washington’s power structure. Paul is looking to tear that structure down. It would be pretty easy to see how easily a bipartisan effort to stop Ron Paul could take shape.

And while that may seem all the more reason to support Paul (everyone says they hate D.C. politics, even if they only ever see it from afar), the fact is his libertarian ideology isn’t the system that led to America’s past successes, and like any other -ism it might just fail. It would be scary to scrap the model of government that has held true for the last 100 years on the promise of a Texas doctor. No one really knows what effectively denuding the federal government would do, but suffice to say that would be real change.

But even if he was elected, even with the recent flare-up of the Tea Party and other limited government factions, the president doesn’t have that power. He would make some changes, and they would galvanize the opposition, and four or eight or twelve years later the pro-federal government forces would retake the White House. The U.S. government was built to lumber along, not to make leaps. The ideology of an -ism would break across it’s bow, and the disciples would lose their shepherd.

Just look at the disciples who elected Barack Obama. They had faith. They believed. Yes we can? Not in Washington, no you can’t.

Rape, Racism, and What To Print

Yesterday was a day full of debate at the office on two stories, neither of them pretty.

Someone gave another reporter emails written by a local Republican activist calling the president of the United States a “jungle alien,” a “jungle bunny,” and the n-word. When the reporter called to ask about them the man did not respond well.

And I wrote a story about a man arrested for raping his wife. By identifying him I identified her. Several people emailed the paper expressing their disgust.

Yesterday became a chance to discuss how you go about implicating someone in the paper, and what information people have the right to know. Do you call someone a racist because they use the n-word? Or do you simply describe the language? Is the language the lead in a story that has many angles? How much weight do you give to his explanation?

And then the next story. Do you treat rape by a spouse differently than you would treat a rapist that is an unknown assailant? Or do you give equal treatment to anyone who is arrested? Is it a good idea to ignore domestic violence cases to shield the victims, or is that turning a blind eye to the problem and giving the perpetrators a pass? How much detail do you put into the story, assuming you have to identify the perpetrator and the crime, and through those the victim? (Just a quick note — if you are reporting on crime you have to be very specific when identifying who was arrested, otherwise people with similar names will be implicated. Name, date of birth and address are standard, otherwise you run into problems.)

It was a day full of good discussions, but it was also a day full of unanswerable questions. We answered with what we feel is right, but each answer is a judgement call. It’s balancing fair treatment of the subject with the public’s right to know and the impact on others involved. For some, like domestic violence-related rape victims, there are no good answers. But the conversation in itself is worth having.