Crashing the Gates of the Mainstream Media

Check out this great read from PBS’s excellent Mediashift website about the crucial role the blogosphere plays in media criticism. My favorite line is about bloggers crashing the gates traditionally kept by the so-called “legacy” media:

Here comes the crowd, and in many instances, they’re not very happy and they have cheap global distribution for their thoughts. And you won’t like them when they’re angry.

Give it a read!

City Charter Task Force: What the Journal Won’t Tell You

coaI had the honor of serving on Albuquerque’s City Charter Revision Task Force, along with 13 other dedicated individuals. Our group ranged across the political spectrum with diverse interests and was most professionally chaired by former State District Court Judge Wendy York.

Based on the Albuquerque Journal’s story and editorial this week, you’d think all we did over the past eight months, consisting of 17 full Task Force meetings and numerous subcommittee meetings, was argue over the issue of nonprofits – the topic with which the Journal is so clearly obsessed.

Amazingly, the Journal failed to mention – in both its news story and its editorial – that the Task Force actually killed the proposed nonprofit amendment to the City Charter sponsored by Chuck Gara for lack of support and because of gaping holes in its application and constitutionality.

That’s right. Gara’s amendment was withdrawn. Only after the amendment’s withdrawal did the Task Force cast a symbolic vote to request the City Council look at the nonprofit issue, just as the Council will consider the tens, if not hundreds of governance issues, when it takes up the Charter next month.  But if the Journal is your only news source, you could hardly be blamed for believing that the Task Force’s sole accomplishment over these past eight months was sending this nonprofit issue up to the Council for “action” — even though the amendment was killed.

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The Media Game has Changed

If it’s Friday, it must be time to connect the dots after a particularly tumultuous week.

A couple of local institutions took major hits – not the least of which was the governor’s office.  For starters, the Washington Post suggested that Gov. Bill Richardson’s days on the national stage may be over.

Whether anyone should ever count Richardson permanently out of consideration for higher office is debatable – our esteemed governor has persevered after many setbacks in a remarkable career. Richardson is smart, engaging and incredibly well-connected. And let’s not forget, there’s trouble in North Korea and an American hostage in Iran right now that probably only he can pry loose.

A Right Jab

The Albuquerque Journal’s Win Quigley took some potshots at Richardson that didn’t go over well with former Albuquerque mayor and media watchdog Jim Baca, who said he’s noticed an inordinate number of hits on Richardson lately in the Journal. Saying the city’s remaining daily paper is turning into a (gasp) blog, Baca suggested the Albuquerque Journal change it the name of its “UpFront” series of columns to “The Grudge Report.”

El Jefe

The mayor’s office took some hefty blows this week, too, with a story in Tuesday’s Journal detailing alleged wrongdoing in connection with an airport contractor at Double Eagle Airport. According to the story, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into Bode Aero Service’s allegations that Mayor Martin Chavez retaliated against them after it refused to provide free or discounted services for Chavez during his aborted run for Senate last year.

Add to that the Journal’s extensive coverage of the legal battle that’s brewing with the City Council over a $6.5 million swimming hole the mayor wants at Tingley Beach, and it’s not likely the mayor is enjoying reading the newspaper much lately.

Daily Grind

The contiguous thread here is the Journal, still far and away the best-read of all print newspapers in Albuquerque, N.M.

Despite the malaise affecting newspapers everywhere, the Journal is still chugging along. But it took some hits this week, too. Yep, there’s only one big newspaper in Albuquerque, but now there are lots of little blogs that can take potshots of their own.

In addition to Baca’s commentary, there was  this from blogger and middle school teacher Scot Key, calling attention to a story that the Journal ran this week detailing some of the reasons why an earlier story it published a few weeks ago was pointless and wrong.  The original Journal story, which printed the name of every elementary school teacher in APS next to arguably meaningless test scores from their students, understandably alienated a large number of hardworking teachers who felt they were held up to public ridicule for no good reason.

Ink by the Barrel?

Despite once being part of the mainstream media machine, I sure as heck am enjoying the lively give and take between the media behemoths and the smart, scrappy bloggers that goes on these days.

No matter the issue, no matter the political stripe – the tempest kicked up by Key’s blog and Baca’s blog and the criticisms and commentaries raised by the many, many other New Mexico-based blogs just underscores the point – the media game has changed. It’s no longer a one-way communication street, where people timidly submit their information to the daily paper and hope everything comes out alright.

And picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel isn’t quite as futile as it used to be.

NM Independent makes its mark

New Mexico seemed particularly blessed last April when the non-profit Center for Independent Media founded the New Mexico Independent, a comprehensive online newspaper designed to cover local news exclusively.

The CIM had already established similar online papers in four states and Washington D.C as part of its New Journalist Pilot Program. The idea was to train a new corps of journalists and create independent media outlets by melding emerging blog technology with the standards of professional journalism.

The CIM experiment was a timely one, coming as the print newspaper business model was rapidly falling out of favor and online news consumption was rising.

The birth of the New Mexico Independent came just as the Albuquerque Tribune shut down, leaving the city with only one newspaper, one domineering news source and one editorial point of view. Continue reading

Conservatism Heads for Fernando’s Hideway

We’ve all read about the controversy stemming from Fernando C. de Baca’s comments about Hispanics and African Americans, resulting in C. de Baca’s resignation on Thursday as head of the Republican Party of Bernalillo County.

While initial media stories focused on his original comment to the BBC, it’s his second comment that really caught my attention:

I feel strongly that Hispanics will not support, in my generation and the generation around my age, are not going to support the Democratic candidate for president primarily because there is a strong feeling that African-Americans during the civil rights movement took advantage, full advantage, of all the benefits and programs that the government offered, that were supposed to be offered to all minorities. But we were left behind, we were left sucking air, and we resented that ever since the 60s, and I don’t see how a black president is going to change that.

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Contemplating Klan Radio

Right-wing talk radio’s hate spew has become an accepted part of the media landscape. In Albuquerque we have 770 KKOB-AM radio – home of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage for seven hours every weekday.

Consider Michael Savage. We’re talking the purest, most unadulterated bigotry imaginable. Even Don Imus at his most vulgar never came anywhere close to the viciousness that is routinely broadcast on the so-called “Talk Monster” every night for two hours (7-9 pm) when KKOB becomes home to the Savage Nation.

Daily KOS had this post about a recent Savage outrage on his Jan. 29 show – Welcome to Klan Radio.

But that was nothing out of the ordinary. The media watchdog, MediaMatters.org, produced this transcript from Savage’s Jan. 31 broadcast:

“Look, Obama’s not getting the nomination. If he does, I wouldn’t — well, let me just stop right there. Think John F. Kennedy Jr. and the Hyannis — and the airplane. Think the Mena airport”.
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