Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bloggers are leeches vs bloggers are last hope for free press

A local editor, (Herald-Standard editorial page editor) Paul Sunyak, said a few weeks ago on a local radio talk show: bloggers are "leeches..." they are biased, don't want to find or seek the truth, and are not journalists...

Say what? Why the "attack" so generalized? Threatened job-security, perhaps?

If you know local politics from as recent as a mere decade's worth, you're scratching your head at (Herald-Standard editorial page editor) Paul's commentary on the impending Republican Party chosen replacement candidate for Joe Hardy, who dropped out of the running for re-election as one of three county commissioners to be chosen in the Fall. Where'd all this come from - not one true issue-oriented "slight" and he doesn't even mention that Sean Cavanagh - former county commissioner - changed political party affiliation initially from Republican (back when he smartly saw the Ross Perot movement was overtaking America) to Democrat to so-called Independent and upon his yes, astonishing re-election to a commissioner's spot at the time, immediately upon taking office switched back to Democrat, (at the time he teamed with a Republican who also turned Independent) (both somehow made grave errors on candidate financial forms back in 1999's Primary when they'd sought office previously and knew all the ins-and-outs)(this time around, he teamed with fellow Democrat Vince Zapotosky who was publicly supported by Cavanagh nemesis and Democrat Party chairman, Fred Lebder)(Cavanagh once likened Lebder's leadership style to that of an ayatollah)(yup, it gets murkier)...

at any rate, Cavanagh far outdistanced any other candidate in recent history in the area hopping from one party to another...

Particularly skewed was the jab at the current incumbent County Controller Mark Roberts challenge to the candidacy of Sean Lally...


Mark Roberts. Anticipating being picked by the Republicans, Roberts barges into the meeting and challenges the candidacy of Sean P. Lally in an attempt to eliminate his only competition, even though Lally isn't even being considered. Offended by Roberts' actions, the GOP hierarchy votes to pick Lally, even though they don't even know him. Lally goes on to win a commissioners' spot just by being on the ballot and not being Roberts. Roberts and his father mount an endless series of challenges before the county election board, even though it didn't oversee the process.

both Mark Roberts and Sean P. Lally sought the Democrat selection for county controller in the Primary election last May... Roberts challenged the nomination petitions of Lally and sought his disqualification (in a court procedure) from the nomination based on "errors, irregularities..." Roberts contends were in the nomination petitions... that effort failed to have enough names on the Lally petitions eliminated to have Lally's name removed from the May ballot... Lally won the Democratic nomination and faces a Republican challenger (Raymond Eicher) in the Fall... meanwhile, Roberts contends the local Election board should take a look at several areas...

See Fayette controller won't give up fight

Sunyak's comment pertaining to the election board just isn't truth.

The Election Board doesn't have to oversee the entire process of a candidate's nomination petitions in order to assume its duty as a board to "investigate" potential voting irregularities brought before it.

In fact, according to Greene County's website, the Election Board duties include "distributes and receives nomination petitions"...

Roberts has attempted to bring to the attention of the Election Board "potential" voting irregularities... and actually, any citizen has this same power, and more importantly, any sitting county commissioner has this power (when not seeking re-election - to cite potential voter fraud and/or voting irregularities (especially pertaining to voter registration).

Finding evidence of any such potential irregularities, the Election Board has the duty to forward its findings to the local District Attorney for further "criminal" investigation, and potential criminal prosecution.

But yes there is a but, to Sunyak's editorial. I found the piece did enjoyably play on the fact that in local politics, there are truly few Republicans who are really Republicans to choose from as the county has historically faced a 4 to 1 Democrat to Republican Party voter registration rate and most Republicans who enter politics were former Democrats...

Interesting, yup. All the truth, nup... see we can do that in the blogsphere, create new words... step on political toes... play no favorites...


Fayette Slugfest?

Election bureau gives tips for seeking public office

Petition Problems Highlighted

Fay-West Discussion board

Candidates 2003

Who's gonna' get Joe Hardy's spot?
By:Paul Sunyak

Now that Fayette County Commissioner Joseph A.Hardy III has announced he will not seek re-election, the focus is on the county's Republican Party, which will select a replacement for Hardy on the fall ballot.

Hardy's withdrawal leaves the local GOP high command with several interesting choices, but I have some as well. Here they are:

John "Sonny" Mikita. After serving as a school board member as a Democrat, then running for state representative as a Republican, then running for county commissioner as a Democrat, Mikita switches back to the GOP for a second time, pronounces "I feel like a Republican this month," and starts to debate himself on the issues.

Sean M. Cavanagh. Immediately after being picked by the Republicans as Hardy's replacement, Cavanagh, ignoring everyone's advice, again forms a team with Democrat nominee Vincent A. Zapotosky. When the votes are counted, Zapotosky gets 500 more Republican votes than Cavanagh, and is elected commissioner as a Democrat and a Republican, which no one can explain. "This time, I'm really moving out of state," says Cavanagh.

John "Toots" Croftcheck. Once perennial candidate Croftcheck gets the GOP nod, he says, "Nobody put me in this race. I'm in this race to win." Reminded that the Republican hierarchy did, in fact, put him in the race, Croftcheck says, "That's what I've been saying."

Timothy S. Mahoney. After powering through his open records legislation in his first eight months in office, an unprecedented achievement for a freshman state legislator, Mahoney decides, "I need a new challenge" and takes the Republicans up on their offer. After winning in a landslide on election night, Mahoney immediately drives down Route 119 and rips down the sign at the entrance of Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport. "Don't worry. I've got a state grant coming for a new one," says Mahoney.

Larry Roberts. Retired state legislator Roberts, who served as a Democrat, answers critics of his selection by saying, "I've always thought like a Republican on some issues." Roberts then chides the media for never reporting that fact, saying that he offered the Herald-Standard that piece of information "along with my phone bills," but the press turned down his generous offer.

Vincent A. Vicites. A lifelong Democrat, Vicites claims he's stupefied as to how the GOP picked him. Vicites says that while he's been focused on "running a clean campaign, but defending my record when I have to," and while he never actively sought the Republican slot, he can't control what other people do and welcomes the GOP support. "I just want to move Fayette County forward, as a Democrat or a Republican, whatever the case may be," says Vicites. Mark Roberts. Anticipating being picked by the Republicans, Roberts barges into the meeting and challenges the candidacy of Sean P. Lally in an attempt to eliminate his only competition, even though Lally isn't even being considered. Offended by Roberts' actions, the GOP hierarchy votes to pick Lally, even though they don't even know him. Lally goes on to win a commissioners' spot just by being on the ballot and not being Roberts. Roberts and his father mount an endless series of challenges before the county election board, even though it didn't oversee the process. Joseph A. Hardy III. The Republicans make the ultimate surprise pick, selecting Hardy to replace himself on the ballot after he has a change of heart...

As for the following, our last hope for a free press - agreed - the Internet, bloggers, podcasters, press on...

Published on Friday, September 28, 2007 by
The Internet: Our Last Hope for a Free Press
by Mark Klempner
I consider the Internet to be one of the world’s great wonders. And also America’s last hope for a free press.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, there were many people with a lot of things to say, but they generally had no platform. That’s why we needed figures like Bob Dylan to be “the voice of a generation.”

The present generation has YouTube, whose motto-irresistible to young people-is “Broadcast Yourself.” So now, for example, a pert 18-year-old known as “AngryLittleGirl” can challenge her peers regarding their lack of critical thinking, especially when it comes to religion, by uploading a video op-ed. As of this moment, her piece has been viewed by more than two million people.

YouTube is but one manifestation of a rapidly expanding “social media” that performs the vital function of promoting honest discussion and analysis at a time when spin, trivia, and advertising dominate the mass market profit-driven mainstream media –or MSM as it is often called on the net. Social media also encompasses web-based interactive communication tools such as blogs, message boards, forums, pod casts, online communities, and wikis.

I have seen bloggers expose mistakes and biases in the MSM within hours or even minutes of an article’s release. For instance, when New York Times science writer William Broad ran a piece deflating Al Gore’s claims about global warming, numerous bloggers pounced on it for being sloppy and skewed. Among them were Robert Dietz and Julie Millican at Media Matters, who documented how Broad had misrepresented the backgrounds of most of the supposedly “rank-and-file” experts quoted.

I don’t know what possessed Broad to so bend his reporting that he would lose credibility across a wide swath of readers (something he has in common with journalist Judith Miller, with whom he co-authored a book), but I do know that the MSM has become consolidated to the point that just a few transnational conglomerates and capital management companies control network TV, commercial radio, and most of our newspapers.

As for the repercussions of this ominous development, John Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times, states them quite clearly: “Gone is the notion that a newspaper should lead, that it has an obligation to the community, that it is beholden to the public.” The current owners, he explains, care only about money, and “are sometimes genuinely perplexed to find people in their midst who do not feel beholden, first and foremost, to the shareholder.”

Bloggers are in an entirely different position: They tend to be mavericks who work for free, and operate far from the sources of power. Feeling no need to ingratiate themselves with the movers and shakers of industry and government, they simply tell it like it is from where they sit as concerned, informed citizens with diverse areas of expertise. Though they don’t often have professional training as journalists, many of them exceed professional journalistic standards, because they answer to their consciences alone rather than to corporate honchos and fund managers. We need to hear from such people, and the fact that there are more blogs out there worth reading than anyone has time to read is a hopeful sign.

Of course, the blogosphere is also filled with nonsense, and worse –as might be expected in any open space that lacks gatekeepers. The all-too-human reality of the web is that the majority of its traffic is directed to sex sites. What’s more, hate groups of all kinds find it a perfect forum to purvey their sick ideas. Even the benign Wikipedia can be used to disseminate false information with an effortlessness that has earned it the gratitude of propagandists everywhere.

How remarkable, then, that out of the cyberslime the lotus of a truly free press has been able to grow. Citizens seeking to avail themselves of the valuable commentary to be found on the web, as well as the fact checking services of legions of bloggers, can learn to easily bypass the detritus and go directly to those sites that offer valuable content.

Where, though, does one turn for in-depth investigative reporting? Though projects such as The Real News Network are attempting to create an alternative, the MSM is still pretty much the only show in town. Bloggers are generally not trained or equipped to do such reporting, and anyway, it´s a full time job that usually requires travel and a support staff, as well as knowledge and contacts developed over many years.

Newspapers carry out at least 80% of primary reporting. And yet the newspapers have repeatedly failed us, sometimes with tragic consequences, such as during the buildup to war in Iraq...

No comments: