Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Media: October 2009

What Do You Read?

DODGE CITY, Kan. - Did you ever wonder what shapes people's opinions about their country, their politics, or their world? I suspect that, for most of us, the answer is, "It's what we watch, listen to, and read." For others, it may be simply whatever their parents, family, or friends believe. For those with the latter choice, one probably can't do much to change their outlook. For the others, it might be interesting just to ask people you meet, "What do you watch, listen to, and read?" I'd be interested in what is read, watched, etc. by the folks who read Kansas Free Press.

For openers, I'll tell you some of my choices. On TV, I watch MSNBC, you know: Countdown, Rachel Maddow, etc. Of course they "lean left" (only I call it "practice progressive thinking"), but I get so fed up with the so-called liberal media, which it is NOT. I listen to NPR with All Things Considered to get the real news and I like to watch The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on Public TV.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City Public Television (KCPT) held an October 21 lunchtime roundtable comprised of four local journalists--two from the Kansas City Star, and two from commercial television. Hosted by KCPT's Executive Producer of News and Public Affairs, Nick Haines, the roundtable was an opportunity for about 25 local folks to ask questions about the current (and future) state of journalism. Haines, a veteran journalist himself and host of KCPT's Kansas City Week in Review, a weekly digest of Kansas City area happenings, did a masterful job of making the reporters human and approachable as those of us in the audience asked questions about the future of local journalism. The four reporters attending were: DeAnn Smith of Fox affiliate KSHB-TV; Kris Ketz of ABC affiliate KMBC-TV; Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star, and host of a daily show on local public radio, KCUR; and Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star.

LEROY, Kan. - In what might be described as the lovechild of Dr. Dre and Minnie Pearl, Bill Otto, a Republican state representative from LeRoy, Kansas has made the national spotlight with his latest "rap" on the shortcomings of President Obama and his policies.

There have been plenty of politicians who've tried to embrace this musical genre, but what makes PossumOtter (that's my new nickname for him) so special and has drawn the ire of millions is that he posted his rythmically challenged ode on YouTube while wearing a ballcap that claims "Opossum, the other dark meat."

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Thanks to the required First Amendment class I'm taking, I've been thinking way too much about freedom of speech lately. We talk about the market place of ideas, in which citizens have a right to listen to, deny, accept or even contribute to public discussion. We talk about the importance of allowing beliefs to be expressed without government regulation. And we talk about how every view, no matter how unpopular or gross, is considered equal.

I really do believe that the First Amendment defines America, which is a good thing... sometimes.

Signs Of Democratic Life In Kansas

HAYS, Kan. - Throughout my career teaching college students I have encountered a recurring sentiment, often from the most earnest undergraduates. "I wish I could just study, go to class, and write what I really think, without everything being so competitive." The implication is that the way achievement is recognized in higher education is undermining the learning experience for the student.

Journalists often voice a similar regret - or excuse, depending upon your point of view - about how they would much rather be finding and reporting different kinds of stories, but the nature of the business requires them to operate according to standards the journalists themselves claim to resent. Perhaps the commercial realities of circulation, ratings, and advertising revenue are undermining journalistic freedom to pursue stories from a different perspective, shaped by a larger purpose. I don't know because I have never had to make a living within those realities.

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - A Missouri billboard is enlightening, but maybe not in the intended way. It says more about the state of our citizenry and the state of general knowledge (or lack thereof) than it does about Obama.

A red and yellow billboard posted along I-70 near Blue Springs is gaining attention from the local media. Watching the following video made many points, some that I would assume that the person that paid for the billboard did not intend. Check it out and then read on:

HAYS, Kan. - Psssst, we're surrounded.

I am talking to residents of Central Kansas. We're surrounded by radio stations and
talk show hosts that, in my opinion, generate too much heat and too little light when addressing matters of general public concern.

"I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense ..." Thomas Paine, 1776, pamphleteer

HAYS, Kan. - Thomas Paine was a pamphleteer over 230 years ago. Though he's thought of as one of America's earliest, and perhaps its most famous journalist, if he were alive today, it's fairly unlikely that he'd be working as a glam television anchor, covering car chases on the L.A. freeway or following the sagas of divorcing celebrities. Tom Paine probably wouldn't aspire to political punditry either. It's doubtful that he'd end up an argumentative or abrasive talking head on some cable news channel.

No. The man who is the original embodiment of the the 1st Amendment would strive for something much greater.

If Tom Paine were to be among us now, it's likely that he would aspire to be one of us. He'd probably be writing furiously and freely at a free press on the Internet, just like this one. And, just as we hope to, he'd be speaking of issues that he believed to have the most relevance to his fellow citizens.

Citizen-powered websites, like this one, are bringing about a real revival of pamphleteering, and a renewed understanding of freedom of the press.

EMPORIA, Kan. - Last night on NBC, a travesty in entertainment befell us all. Saturday night live, for the second week in a row, bombed miserably. With the new Weekend Update Thursday thriving in it's time slot, you've got wonder why Lorne Michaels is wasting what seems to be his best material on a weekday.

Let's face it, before John Stewart and Stephen Colbert came along, SNL had a market monopoly on political satire. For the last three years that has been their bread and butter as they just seemed to fill the rest of the show with stuff just funny enough to keep you watching until they parodied politics.

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - Prairie Village resident Charles Schollenberger has announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a possible U.S. Senate run. The committee plans to meet through the end of 2009 to determine if sufficient support exists for a candidacy.

Schollenberger believes "Kansans deserve better representation. Republicans have tied up [those] seats for over 70 years." From a "fair play standpoint, the other party ought to have a chance."

Schollenberger hails from Hudson, Ohio has been a resident of metropolitan Kansas City for 27 years. He grew up in northeast Ohio where he was a strong advocate for passage of the 26th amendment in 1971, which lowered the legal voting age to 18.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Network Neutrality, or "Net Neutrality" for short, is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet. When we open up our browser to surf the web or check in our MySpace account, we expect to get were we want to go without encountering complications.

Net Neutrality ensures that all users can access the content or run the applications and devices of their choice when they are using the Internet. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data -- not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service. Net Neutrality prevents the companies that control the wires from discriminating against content based on its source or ownership.

SALINA, Kan. - At this time, it is estimated that as many as 5 million families already have lost their homes or still face the prospect of losing their homes in just the coming few months. Ever since the financial industry crisis began in mid-2007, even some of the news outlets that I have respected just spit out these words like parrots, "lenders are in a crisis."

A "crisis for lenders" they say. Then, we had the massive bailouts to lenders in late 2008 under Bush and in early 2009 under Obama. Lenders in crisis? It seems like "the media" has always implied, "the good lenders bent the rules a little bit, with all their generosity and compassion, to lend money to certain people who now are refusing to make good on the loans, now thrusting these good lenders into crisis." Why a crisis for lenders? Is that really true?

I submit to you that there's no real harm to lenders, except a little bit of reduction of their extremely high profits of recent years. The only devastation here is the slow and persistent robbing of the middle class to make the ultra richer even wealthier. Please let me explain.

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