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Friday, September 30, 2005

Should journalists vote?

No, No. I don't mean whether journalists ought to be prohibited from voting, like felons. Although I suspect that is the view of one of my friends in government who remarked favorably on the news that White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan had cut down on the number of press vans in light of the energy crisis. Upon hearing it he said, "That's a good start."

No, I'm bringing up the subject because I thought it odd when someone in the media told me during the last week that he doesn't vote. Over the years, I've heard the same thing from other reporters. Most who don't vote have a self-imposed prohibition against voting in a primary or registering as anything other than an independent in those states which allow registration by party. They will, however, vote in a general election. Others just don't vote at all.

There are some who probably don't vote for the same reason most Americans don't vote. That is, of course, no good reason. But other reporters wear the acknowledgement like a badge of virtue.

This has been discussed at conferences and in journals covering journalism.

I would like to know what you think. My own opinion? I don't consider non-voting a virtue.

And, after all, some in the news media go on to run for office. Notable reporters who did so include Winston Churchill, Jack Kennedy and Al Gore. And before someone brings up the point I will acknowledge that all three gentlemen came from privileged backgrounds. More numerous are the editors and publishers like Horace Greeley, Frank Knox, James Cox, and a fellow from around these parts named Quayle.

And, of course, some have done it more successfully than others. Locally, WKJG anchor Jack Gray lost a race for Sheriff in the '60's. WANE-TV's Mike Barnard lost a race for Congress. But there have been exceptions, too. The News-Sentinel's John Ankenbruck served on the Allen County Council while working as an editorial writer for the paper. Margaret Ankenbruck unsuccessfuly ran for office before she wrote editorials for the News-Sentinel and she successfully ran after she had been an editorial writer. (Maybe winning just has something to do with the name Ankenbruck. Both candidates have credited the old Ankenbruck Funeral Home with part of their electoral success.)

Of course,a candidate running while employed in a news medium position would be verboten today. I imagine a leave might suffice but I suspect most managers would require the reporter to resign.

But is even the simple act of voting too tainted? Virtue or not? Have at it. Post your comments.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

To what kind of journalists should bloggers be compared?

Over at Fort Wayne Observed, Nathan Gotsch asked his readers to comment on whether they thought he was a real journalist. Some insisted that journalists could be distinguished by their level of formal university training. Others chimed in to deride that thinking, citing examples of accomplished journalists local and national who did not have university training.

There was certainly a thread running through that perhaps journalists were distinguished by whether what they were doing was as a paid professional whose employment was determined by others.

The proprietor of Fort Wayne Observed shrewdly held back the information that he had, indeed, been paid by a nationally distributed periodical for his journalistic work. He revealed that factoid after most had had their say.

I have not met Mr. Gotsch. I know him by reputation, though. What probably ought to be remarked on is that he is a filmmaker and distinguished by formal university training in his field of the kind that seemed to matter much to one of the comment authors. As far as I know, he hasn't made any documentaries and wouldn't claim to be a documentarian. But I imagine he could tell a story in film that many of those who wrote cannot.

In my eye, that alone would not make him a journalist.

Leo Morris wrote the best when he talked about the revolutionary shift going on in how information is being reported. Leo was looking at the great sweep of change that has always been a part of journalism. He looks ahead and he knows what is happening on Fort Wayne Observed is journalism.

Some of what is occuring will be akin to the days when any pressman in a town put out a broadsheet that did as much to advertise his job printing business as it did to present information. And much of what is occuring in cyberjournalism does look and will look as partisan as Tom Tigar's paper was in the 1800's.

But Leo sees that when enough people do what Nathan Gotsch does, you will be seeing the emergence of a real system of reporting real news of real usefulness.

Do I see Nathan Gotsch as a real journalist? Yes. I called him a proprietor above. He may most be akin to a man I knew in my youth - Don Montgomery, the publisher of the weekly Allen County Times in New Haven. Don was a real journalist who had a beat which he covered thoroughly and, as the case with many weekly newspaper owners, with some gentleness. He had owned several weeklies in the state in places such as the town of Attica, Indiana. He was well-respected, too, by his fellow publishers across the state, because Don functioned as a newspaper broker as well.

Men I knew like Don,such as his predecessor, Ching Weber, and Ossian's Ed Peck were pretty much the same upstanding guys. It didn't matter which party they belonged to - Ching was a Democrat, Don a Republican, and Ed remains today a staunch conservative Republican. (He is also the father-in-law of Allen County Sheriff candidate Ken Fries).

What they had in common was that they owned the press on which their paper was published. They also, in order to carry on what they did, had to retain the respect of most everyone in their community. What are the names of people like that today? They may not own the actual press on which the paper is printed but certainly have the second quality of those men I mentioned.

Well, Lois Ternet of the Monroeville NEWS, would be one. She doesn't even own the paper but treats it as if it were her own.

Oh, and another name, Nathan Gotsch.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Quad Cities View: Why Swap Rock Island for Fort Wayne

In an article headlined "Carmody Leaves for Browner Pastures" the Quad-Cities Times gives its take on Rock Island Economic Growth head Dan Carmody leaving to take over the Downtown Development District (DID) in Fort Wayne. The article is very positive on Mr. Carmody but is puzzled by the choice of Fort Wayne.

Pardon our surprise when Dan Carmody announced he'll leave the Quad-Cities to oversee downtown development in Indiana's No. 2 city.

No disrespect intended. Fort Wayne is us: About 220,000 people clustered around a river in a midwest industrial town that was stiffed in the 1980s by International Harvester.

So why swap rust-belt towns?

“I do like these second-tier, mid-sized industrial towns trying to figure out what they want to be,” said Carmody

You can read the rest of the story in the Quad-Cities Times here.

I like the idea of someone recruited from the Quad-Cities. It's part of my family heritage so I'm familiar with it. But more important is the fact that the demographics are very similar. I've been impressed with the sense of renewal exhibited there. I also suspect that Mr. Carmody, coming from a place similar in size to Fort Wayne but which has multiple municipal entities having to work across two states, will be able to assure folks here that consolidated government is not the only avenue toward renewal.

And the other thought is that his experience as a brewer, and having worked the other side of a bar, will hold him in good stead here.

I wish him well.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


This is to be a place for discussion of things of importance to Indiana with a particular emphasis on northeastern Indiana.

Webster's defines "Parley" as:
\Par"ley\, n.; pl. Parleys. [F. parler speech, talk, fr. parler to speak, LL. parabolare, fr. L. parabola a comparison, parable, in LL., a word. See Parable, and cf. Parliament, Parlor.] Mutual discourse or conversation; discussion; hence, an oral conference with an enemy, as with regard to a truce. source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

There will be observations on politics, the media, and all things concerning the public weal.