Thursday, January 15, 2015

A rant on why a bleeding-heart liberal advertises on a more right-leaning publication in a left leaning community.



 Mike Seward

Editors note:  This is only the 2nd "guest post" I have published over the past 8 years.  Self serving perhaps, but considering all the nasty  comments I've published directed at me over the years from Cowardly Anon Nitwits ...

There was an item in the news recently that caught my attention.  Masslive.com reported that Only in the Republic of Amherst blogger Larry Kelley complained about not being allowed to film an event at a public building, thereby violating his First Amendment right.

The article didn’t mention anything about what school officials had to say about it, however.

As is often case on Masslive, anonymous posters chimed in on the topic.  One caught my eye because it characterized the author of this blog as an “insane agitator and provocateur” who is hated by the public and public officials for his “confrontational manner”.

It went on to characterize this blog as an “anti-democracy screed” and relegated it to the “right wing paranoid luny (sic) bin”.

I don’t always agree with Larry, but I proudly advertise on this blog regardless.  Allow me to explain why I advertise, why others should advertise, and why those who don’t agree with him should read his blog.
  
While I can appreciate why liberal-minded folks like myself may disagree with Larry’s opinions, it is undeniable that his blog provides a service and fills a void.  It would be a mistake to compare what he does to Fox News, a so-called “news organization” that I would characterize as an actual right wing paranoid loony bin. 

Larry has broken stories that were later picked up by more mainstream publications like The Republican/Masslive.com and Daily Hampshire Gazette.  He also reports items that aren’t covered by either organization that should be covered. 

The press is supposed to challenge public officials, even if it requires a confrontational style to get the answers. 

The Masslive/The Republican reporter should have “confronted” school administrators about Larry not being allowed to film a public event in a public building and included their response in the article.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution enumerated free press protections in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights because they knew that an informed electorate was essential to democracy.

They knew that voters need to know the who, the what, the why, the how, and the when of what their public officials are doing in order for a democracy to function.

Today’s press is failing voters miserably in more ways than one, and what follows are just a couple of the many reasons why―and why the citizens of Amherst should be happy to have another source of information.

Today’s press is too reliant on “official” sources and press releases.  They don’t investigate the facts independently as the Fourth Estate should.

I published a news site of my own in Belchertown. It was called Belchertown-News.com.  I know it is a lot of work to cover and promote the news. (My appreciation for what Larry does is another reason I support this blog with advertising.)

While I was unable to make it sufficiently profitable to quit my day job, I still get press releases all the time.   Because I receive press releases, I can tell you that too many of them are simply paraphrased and published by mainstream news agencies.

Sometimes they just get their information from a police agency’s Facebook status. They don’t investigate the facts for themselves.  They don’t try to find out if there is more to the story.  This includes press releases from organizations, town officials, businesses, and everyone else.

They just take it for granted that what they received was true and distribute it to the masses for consumption.  How is that good for democracy? 

I post Belchertown-related stories from other news agencies at Facebook.com/BelchertownNews.  As such, I contribute to the problem I just discussed by distributing said stories further.   I still post my own scoops on occasion, as well.

Another way our press fails us is through media consolidation.  There is  too much synergy and not enough energy in news reporting.  Most of our press, both locally and nationally, is owned by just a few media conglomerates.

These media conglomerates have their own interests that sometimes conflicts with that of the public they are supposed to serve―whether it is their own interests or the interests of their advertisers.

Just look at Comcast-owned NBC News and their lack of coverage of net neutrality, a topic that could potentially have a very significant impact on our democracy.

And when the media are making millions on political campaigns, well, the conflict is self-evident and especially egregious. 

Two of our local television media outlets―WGGB (Channel 40) and CBS3 Springfield―are owned by just one corporation: Meredith Corporation.   The Republican/Masslive.com is owned by Advance Publications. Even Daily Hampshire Gazette and its family of newspapers isn’t locally owned.  It is owned by Newspapers of New England.

Media consolidation dilutes the news.

One perspective is portrayed across multiple venues, thereby limiting the number of news items that the people of the cities and towns of the Pioneer Valley actually need to know.

I watched CBS 3 Springfield a few times, and it seemed that too many of their stories began with, “According to our media partners Masslive and The Republican...”  What’s the point of multiple news sources if they all report the exact same thing?

Isn’t the point of a robust press to provide multiple perspectives and allow for more news stories to be reported?  How is media consolidation good for public?
 
As someone who ran his own news website for one town, I also know that there are a ton of stories not being covered that should be covered.  Think about it. Every single town has a regular schedule of selectmen meetings, school committee meetings, planning board meetings, zoning board of appeals meetings, and more.  Each of those meetings has multiple items on their respective agendas.

Think of all the potentially important news stories not being covered because there aren’t enough resources to cover them.

The public can’t do anything about what they may not want their public officials  doing unless they know about it beforehand, and the public not finding out something until it is too late happens more often than you think.
  
Of course, we shouldn’t dismiss the fact that more of the public needs to take an interest in what is happening.  I’ve seen people stand up at Belchertown’s Annual Town Meeting and ask questions about things that were widely reported in the news.

The more people paying for news would go a long way toward improving news coverage.  

The community should embrace Larry’s efforts for all these reasons, at the very least.  He is just one local guy helping to fill a large void to serve the public interest.

You don’t have to agree with everything he writes to do so. The news shouldn’t be consumed to validate one’s worldview.  It should be consumed to help inform it.  That’s why multiple perspectives are essential.

Those perspectives shouldn’t just be limited to the same story, either. Different perspectives are also offered in the types of stories that are covered.

If it is true that the public and public officials hate Larry, as the anonymous Masslive commenter claimed, then it is likely because the public and town officials have forgotten what a free press is all about. 

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was good to read this editorial. It would be wonderful if it (or a version of it) could be published in other venues too, maybe even print media. It makes a lot of important points.

jayne said...

He's cute. Is he single?

Anonymous said...

Most people who criticize Fox News channel do not actually watch it.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly right. I think the Bible is bullshit and I don't read it, either. If you know poison will kill you, do you still drink it?

Anonymous said...

Actually more people watch Fox News than any other Channel. One of the only channels that has both sides in any discussion. But then again the liberals wouldn't know cause they haven't seen what both sides of an argument is.

Anonymous said...

" I think the Bible is bullshit and I don't read it, either."

Sad perosn, sorry to hear.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Your view is in itself toxic. No idea is good if it disagrees with yours eh 7:37. To you most of America are just bitter clingers, right? Lol.

Anonymous said...

Shepard Smith, Bret Baier, Dana Perino, Cavuto work for Fox. Don Imus too. Also Juan Williams and Geraldo. Maybe tou'd rather listen to Al Sharpton and Chris Matthews. Go ahead . Free country. I watched MSNBC for years. But there Must be a reason their ratings are in the toilet. But you keep tuning in. If You stop watching they may cease to exist altogether.

Anonymous said...

You must also think the Koran and Torah are bullshit too. We're all full of shit in our own way and you more than most. Lemme guess... You love all mankind. It's people you hate.

Anonymous said...

This valley is full of liberal zombies blindly following there overlord Obama. Getting close to China / north Koran style censorship and brain washing.

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase Voltaire: I may disagree with what you say and I only wish I could remove your right to say it.

Anonymous said...

Since when did all the hard right-wingers from MassLive start commenting here? See, LK, this is what happens when your blog is 'advertised' on that site.

I mean.. I hear "Overlord Obama" and any hope for intelligent discourse is thrown out the window. It's a shame, too, because this blog usually caters to a higher level of commenter. Not MUCH higher, I grant you, but the slimy "you're a libtard" rhetoric is such a turn off.

Anonymous said...

My view is toxic? That if I don't agree with something, I don't engage in it? Why would I read the Bible (or the Koran, Torah, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, etc.)if I don't believe those things? And why would that make me "sad?" I mean... it's my choice, and aren't you conservatives all about choice? It's my choice to not be a religious person. I'm not at fault for that, and it's not your position to foist your beliefs on me or judge me for our difference of opinion. Isn't that the American way? The hypocrisy always tickles me in these kinds of weird arguments - these liberties are self-evident. Anything else is, well, regressive.

Anonymous said...

Well at least the state had the sense to elect a Republican governor.

Anonymous said...

"I mean.. I hear "Overlord Obama" and any hope for intelligent discourse is thrown out the window."

Why, because most of the country feels that way, but it goes against your beliefs so somehow reasonable discussion can't come of it. History will show that Obama was one of the worst presidents of this century. You may not like that, but many see that now and have since he became president with all of his rhetoric and promises that have amounted to nothing but the largest debt in history.

Actually the sadder part is that since you have deemed any conversation on the topic useless, one has to wonder who really is the intelligent one here. Intelligent people can have discussion and discourse. Liberals only seem to want their way or the highway. Maria Geryk proves that every day.

Anonymous said...

Finally, with a Republican Governer we can see some progress in this ass-backwards state.

Anonymous said...

Still no word on whether he's single or not...

Anonymous said...

How many thousands of dollars for new positions has Geryk added in the last few years?
Does any of this have to do with Detweiler vanishing?

Anonymous said...

Once again, anyone who disagrees are termed hard right wingers. And what? Even if they are such, do they not have a right to read this and post here? I thought Amherst celebrated diversity.

Anonymous said...

"Still no word on whether he's single or not..."

Unfortunately in a town like this, you have to know too many preferences to be able to ask that question properly.

Anonymous said...

Amherst celebrates diversity about as much as the BET awards gives awards to white people.

Anonymous said...

We do celebrate diversity. Not ignorance (no offense). But what do I know, I pledge allegiance to Dictator Obama.

Anonymous said...

LOL. Stupid Zombies. Go ask your overlord for you brains and fee speech back.
Transparency my ass!
I can say the word Terrorism, can you?
je suis charlie

Jackie M'Vemba said...

Diversity of skin color yes. Diversity of ideas? No.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but can you say "Radical Islamic Terrorism? That's really what the Obama administration is unwilling to say out loud. Not sure what they're afraid of.

Anonymous said...

Obama is a Muslim as he said himself

Anonymous said...

It was a slip of the tongue.

Anonymous said...

Or so they say... Lol

Anonymous said...

Speaking of pledging allegiance, why is it we no longer see the Pledge of Allegiance said in the classrooms? (With or without God being mentioned. And where is all the benefit from having ceased this practice?

Anonymous said...

Wow lots of crazies here!

Anonymous said...

It wasn't that way b4 u got here!

Anonymous said...

In Amherst the Pledge is the equivalent of throwing water on the Wicked Witch of the West.


EXCERPT:

Massachusetts' highest court ruled Friday that the Pledge of Allegiance does not discriminate against atheists, saying that the words "under God" represent a patriotic, not a religious, exercise.

All previous attempts to eliminate the mention of God in the pledge recited in classrooms across the country have failed, but the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts considered arguments seeking removal of the reference based on discrimination.

The case was brought by an unidentified family of a student at a school in suburban Boston, whose lawyers argued that the pledge violates the Equal Rights Amendment of the state Constitution. It was the first such case at the state level.

Roy Speckhardt, the executive director of the American Humanist Association, an atheist group that provided legal services for the plaintiffs, called the decision a setback. But he said the group felt confident about a similar case filed in New Jersey last week that seeks to show that the pledge engendered a climate of discrimination.

In its ruling, the Massachusetts court said the pledge was voluntary and a "fundamentally patriotic exercise, not a religious one."

The decision said the plaintiffs failed to prove that reciting the pledge resulted in negative treatment.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/09/justice/massachusetts-pledge-of-allegiance/

Anonymous said...

Do any of you teachers, especially those with advisories, have the students say the Pledge? What do you suppose would happen? Is it possible students might even enjoy completing that simple task together?Seems like a good way to start the day. Affirming a sense of pride in your country. Even here. Maybe especially here. And tell me again what the big benefits have been to knocking off doing this each day. You always hear "they don't teach love of country." Anyone care to start?

Dr. Ed -- Who'd LOVE to drive a dump truck hauling debris from a ruined UMass to the dump... said...

Hear of all the earthquakes in Connecticut? Maybe God is getting ready to TAKE OUT the entire upper Pioneer Valley -- one good quake would level most of UMass and without UMass,. there isn't an Amherst -- or a Northampton.

I won't cry any tears....

Anonymous said...

This is what you get for bringing up The Pledge of Allegiance in Amherst.

Larry Kelley said...

The same sad mentality that will prevent the commemorative flags from flying this coming 9/11.

Some people (even after 9/11) still subscribe to the theory that the American flag is a "symbol of terrorism and death and fear and destruction and repression ..."

Anonymous said...

What we need is a gun range in Amherst. With all the available land, the town should open a gun range so Americans can practice their favorite sport, target shooting.

Anonymous said...

We pledge allegiance to the Republic for which the flag stands. Most of us actually love our country. Right or wrong.

Anonymous said...

Now yer talkin'!

Anonymous said...

I have my doubts that even one teacher in town has the kids recite the Pledge. Does neone know if teachers are under orders from on high NOT to say it in Amherst? I don't think it's prohibited by law, but we DO have some awfully funny laws on the books.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha. Only in the republic of Amherst does Larry sound conservative. This is a liberal blog that is critical of the govt and Larry's soln is often more govt funding. This is like an occupy blog......"I broke my toe and the soln is to break another one"

Good blog though. There is no unbiased media, especially locally, but conservative this blog is not. Liberty is also not a strong theme here. Perhapse the best word to describe would be collectivist....do it together, just do it my way. But please blog on.

Anonymous said...

You're trippin' Jack.

Anonymous said...

I notice that fairly often they don't bother to raise the flag at the MS or HS. What makes you think that a.). anyone in the arps system says the POA or b.) any teacher would dare to do it or c.) admit it here even anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Is it simply laziness?

Anonymous said...

The lunatic is in the hall.
The lunatics are in my hall.
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more.

Anonymous said...

Thank you roger waters.

Anonymous said...

Do the advertising rates on this blog go down as page views per month go down?

Page views per month for this site have fallen by about 65,000/month in the last 6 months.

Larry Kelley said...

No actually they have not. During the summer I averaged about 60,000 per month, so they are now up compared to that.

You may be thinking of March where two years ago I hit an all-time high of 134,000 and then this past March broke that with 137,000.

Due of course to my boots on the ground and camera in hand coverage of Blarney Blowout.

When I first started taking advertisers three years ago my rates were based on 30,000 per month.

Anonymous said...

Would you be willing to let us in on how many local, unique page views you receive per month?

Larry Kelley said...

If you look over on the right in purple you can see my live traffic feed which shows locations.

About half my visiters are local.