Showing posts with label #leoweekly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #leoweekly. Show all posts

04 December, 2015

Dirty River Media: An Argument For Muckraking

You can't buy a bag of peanuts in this town without someone writing a song about you. -- Charles Foster Kane (Citizen Kane, 1941)

There are a lot of ways to practice the art of journalism, and one of them is to use your art like a hammer to destroy the right people — who are almost always your enemies, for one reason or another, and who usually deserve to be crippled, because they are wrong." - Hunter S. Thompson

Julius Chambers, maybe the first muckraker

The first reported use of the term "muckraker"* was by no less than President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. During a speech, he used it in reference to William Randolph Hearst and Hearst's brand of yellow journalism**. Usage of the term grew and came into include Julius Chambers -- maybe the first real muckraker -- Nelly Bly, Upton Sinclair, and Ambrose Bierce, among others.***

Muckraking is part of the grand tradition in journalism that's dying at the hands of corporate owned media. Keep in mind, Dear Friends and Readers, that no less than 6 corporations own most of the large market media in this country... and that's just TV and radio. Newspapers are corporate owned as well, split between Gannett, The McClatchy Co., Hearst, Cox Media, Media News Co., and Village Voice Media (which has eaten up most of what used to be the alternative weeklies.

Part of the problem is people sometimes confuse muckraking -- which sometimes rears its head under the more polite hat of "investigative journalism" -- with yellow journalism^ -- which is alive and well, as well as well funded.

Another problem is people -- including some who claim to be journalists -- buy into the idea, often espoused by anyone who doesn't agree with the particular brand of facts^^ posited by a reporter or talking head^^^, that journalism ought to strive to be "objective."

That, Dear Friends and Readers, is complete rhetorical bollix.

Journalism can't be objective because its first allegiance ought to be to the truth. The role of the 4th Estate is to drag stories out into the light and hold our elected officials' feet to the proverbial fire. It should not ever be Public Relations for any political party or politician, and should look at everything through a critical lens. And regardless of what anyone tells you, being critical means having an agenda. 

My recent split with LEO Weekly (one of the few alt weeklies not owned by Village Voice Media) occurred over a disagreement on how a particular story ought to have been portrayed.  Another aspect -- which I will call coincidental because it's more of a feeling than something I can document -- is that from their perspective, I got greedy. My work was considered exemplary by the managing editor until I had the temerity to ask if I could be more than a freelancer. After that, all of a sudden, I was breaching journalistic standards.

I'm a contrarian. I'll admit that. But having a natural tendency to disagree is not the same thing as a breach of "the basic tenets of journalism"+ On the contrary, it makes me a good muckraker. You have to have a contrary personality and a solid sense of self to be willing to rub academic department chairs, deans, editors, and politicians the wrong way. A good friend of mine once called this my tendency to "poke the bear." 

And that, Dear Friends and Readers, is what I intend to continue doing.

That's why I'm going to be finding my own press credentials and starting my own endeavor, called Dirty River Media. This will include a few projects, including publishing and podcasting, and other enterprises will hopefully add to the already existing push back against monopolized media and milquetoast reporting.  One project, The Kentucky Muck Podcast, will be a weekly show about local, regional, and state issues, as well as arts and culture, that need to see some light. That's what muckraking is, and that's what I do better than most anyone around. 

I promise my reporting will be honest, authentic, and researched; and I hope it will be entertaining. Stay tuned.
*Defined as - raking through the muck and finding the real story.
**Hearst more or less invented large scale yellow journalism, the tradition of which is carried on by Fox News, HLN, and MSNBC most effectively.
***People like this are my heroes. So are Ida B Wells, Walt Whitman, Utah Phillips, Hunter S. Thompson, and Pete Rose. Not necessarily in that order. Look 'em up.
^ I just felt like using a bold yellow font. That's one kind of editorial decision that even schooled journalists are comfortable making.
^^ Facts are difficult to find and almost always difficult to use in any critical sense... and generally get confused with "opinion" which everyone has according to one smelly metaphor.
^^^ Talking head -- no, not the band. talking heads read you a news script that they may or may not have had any part of putting together. Probably not, more than likely.
 + The same editor who accused me of breaking faith with "the basic tenets of journalism" is the very same one who quoted HST to me by saying "objective journalism is bullshit."  You can't have it both ways. Either you write something honest and authentic and true, or you write shit. 

01 December, 2015

Compassionate City, Continued and Gator Man Strikes Again

Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others. - Ambrose Bierce

Compassionate city, continued

The thing people need to remember is Louisville is, first and foremost, a port town -- spawned by the river and maintained by the descendants of slimy critters that crawled out of it. There is no amount of brand-name creating, gentrifying, or white-washing in the name of economic development that will remake this town into anything but the den of vice, passion, and delusion that it is. Someone really should tell the mayor he can change the window dressing all he wants, but the actual nature of River City is what it is -- beautiful and perverse, both corrupt and incorruptible.

Of course, if someone did tell Mayor Fischer all of that, he'd just run out and buy more paint to cover it all up. The most popular color used to cover Louisville's swollen twigs and berries is police blue.

This past Sunday I went the folks at Fed with Faith to deliver food, sleeping bags, sterno and propane, and thermal underwear to River City's homeless population. We went to a new camp* with supplies, and took down their information. I rode around with Jean, one of the founders of Fed with Faith, and did what I could to help. He's either discovered the secret to endless energy or he mainlines coffee, but I did have a good night anyway.

The people living in the new camp ranged in age from their late 40's to barely 20. Some of them had family -- we ask in case they turn up dead and someone needs to be called -- but most of them didn't. A couple of them are in the process of finding housing, and there were some other issues around self-medication that always rings familiar to me.**

We ran into another guy who was eating out of garbage can near the downtown convention center. He said he used to play in the NFL. He also said he lived in New Jersey in 1988 during an earthquake that opened a hole where the Taliban was. We also ran into a kid who couldn't get into the shelter because he didn't have any ID, but who had no business being out. We had to hang around a bit to make sure a group of guys from the shelter didn't jump him for the food and stuff we gave him.

I also met Bob and Chris, and Prince Albert^.

One interesting tidbit I learned about our "compassionate city." It's illegal to move a camp. If you're caught moving a camp, you get cited form illegal dumping. Let that one sink in for a minute. So, while being homeless isn't technically illegal, according to the LMPD Press Information Office, they manage to criminalize everything BUT, and dehumanize their fellow humans in the process.

But it's all about the brand... right?

The gator man strikes again

As a result of me posting the article LEO refused to print and me accusing them, rightfully so, of wanting homeless porn^^, I no longer write for them. I wasn't full-time anyway, just another hired gun, working piecemeal and being told to wait for the sweet by and by.  Of course, my work with them was getting hyper-scrutinized anyway, ever since I asked to be more than the mixaphorical+ brides' maid. The truth about freelance writing is the same truth about being an adjunct college instructor --

why hire you on full-time when they can screw you for pennies?

This isn't getting me down, however. Thanks to my break-up with LEO, I've decided to break out on my own. Just because I'm not getting underpaid by them to drag important news out of the muck and into the light, doesn't mean I can't underpay myself.

This time, however, it will be in form of a weekly podcast, The KENTUCKY MUCK. We're still putting our pints and quarts together, and you can expect to get word of it soon. The Kentucky Muck Podcast will cover News, politics, arts, and culture that need to be dragged out into the light. We will be engaged actively in #bevinwatch, as Matt "no-cock fight is too dirty for me" Bevin takes the oath of office and starts doing to Kentucky what Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin -- but with that carpetbagger flair that only comes wrapped in a flag with a prayer on its lips.+++

I'm also closer to announcing the first release of Dirty River Press, which will probably be a chapbook.

In our little south end bunker, we're also working on a storytelling podcast concept called Falls City Storytelling. That one will be fun of a different sort.

And there's more... but I hate to spoil a surprise.

You may have noticed I've put a donation button on the webpage. Back when  I wrote under the American Re:Visionary blog, I had a tip jar. At the time, I used the tip jar for travelling money. Now, I'm asking that if you like what you read that you help me continue to write it. The more you give, the less I have to work a day job and devote to you, Dear Friends and Readers.

Thanks. Expect more soon.
*Nope, not going to tell you where, and for all the reasons I mentioned in my previous post.
** I have gotten away (for the most part) from daily self-medication. But if there really was salvation in a bottle, I'd have found it by now.
^Prince Albert says he's a direct descendant of King Edward. He also claims to have walked 43,000 from Florida to Louisville. Having travelled and lived out some myself, I can see where it would fee that way.
^^I apparently impugned the "integrity of the paper" and probably hurt the feelsies of the gatekeeper in calling them out publicly. But since the current publisher claims to be a Liberal and does business like Jay Gould++, I feel less than terrible about either. Their current cover story -- about the methane plant deal in the West End -- misses the mark by about 20 football fields. But the lead is journalistically "correct." And, their concert listings will be spot on. In a related note, there was a huge Black Lives Matter protest at the Old Jail House in downtown Louisville yesterday. They protested in support of Judge Olu Stevens and his reported decision to dismiss a jury during a drug case on the basis that the jury was not racially diverse enough.
+ mixaphorical, adj: an apt mash-up of generally isolated metaphors. From PDOUWP, Compendium Ed.
++Jay Gould was a rank capitalist most famous for saying "I can hire one half of the working class to shoot the other." He did. It worked. It still works to this day, since capitalists and powermongers are not so much creative as they are repetitive.
+++ i.e., fascism.

18 September, 2015

Not So Gone

From Gustav Dore's drawings of Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner
I haven't had much in the way of time or energy to commit here lately, so I wanted to stop in during a lull and say "Howdy" and "I'm still here."

My energies these past few weeks have been spent on teaching my three classes at UofL and on writing for LEO. My own work, writing and otherwise, has fallen by the wayside of late as I try to adjust to a teaching regimen again. The teaching goes as well as can be expected in huge machine of a university. I find myself reaching back to methods taught to me by my friend and mentor, George Eklund. In my mind, I don't teach at the heartless, soulless meat grinder that is a large and parasitic university. I teach at the community college in my mind, the Parsons School of High Creative Humanism. I value my classroom time and hold faith in the potential of actual discussion, intellectual inquiry, and a genuine creative social critique.

I'm still, as you probably expected, banished from the harrowed halls and campuses of the Kentucky Community Technical College System -- a system, which, from what I can tell, is still on an increasingly speedy downward spiral into University of Phoenix infamy. The fat cats are still fat. The lackeys are still latched onto the corporate tit, and adjunct instructors are still ritualistically exploited for the enjoyment of Jay Box, the Board of Regents, The Office of General Counsel, Lisa Brodsky, Shawna L. Anderson, and Emily Belswood*.

Some progress is being made, of course. That the entire institution hasn't ground to a stop because adjuncts are tired of their ritualized dehumanization is proof there isn't enough progress -- but there's always next week, I suppose.

As for the long war back, I suspect, like Odysseus, I suspect my journey towards vindication, if any exists, will take longer than I'd like. My next step, if there is one, is legal action; but my financial situation, and my desire to do more than simply make them pay for a moral affront and attack on my livelihood makes me wonder of there's even a point. Sure, they might pay me off -- but until then I'd be unable to write about them, tell the tale, and sing the songs of their misdeeds, which are many.

And if I happened to win -- that is, if they offered to pay me off -- there would certainly be some attempt to script my telling of the events. And, truth be told, I'd rather be able to continue to call them out for the scam artists they are than get a large payday.

So, keep reading, Dear Friends and Readers. I'll be stopping by here more on the regular. And when I am not here in person, rest assured I always near the dirty sacred river in my heart of hearts.

*Lisa Brodsky, a sham of an incompetent administrator, Shawna L. Anderson, a lackluster and bitter lackey hiding in Institutional Research, and Emily Belswood, a lowly public relations peon are three of the four people who I have, in the past, written about as #respondent53. I know who the 4th is but can find no proof. Open records requests show the three miscreants listed above did maliciously track and trace my social media life -- which, if the NLRA was any damn use at all and included "public servants", would have caused for them and the college to be sanctioned -- from The Cone Man Saga until I handed them a loaded firearm to shoot me with. Way to stalk. I'd call you ladies, but I've known too many real ones to insult the term.