Ex Post Facto

We are told that we live in a “post-fact” world. If you grew up in a print-based culture like I did (and you actually still use books to round out your understanding of the world), then this is alarming.

After months of brutal electioneering, a candidate has been chosen. He might be the perfect choice for a world where fact and science has been swapped for tweets and relying on his “gut” or something other than his brain for decision-making.

If it was merely our reality TV president relying on something other than fact-checking and data, then jokes and innuendo might be the end of it. However, it’s each and every single one of us “googling” on our smartphones that is driving dismissal of fact. Facebook then amplifies it ten-fold.

Like most nearly every aspect of life in America these days—the problem of ____________ (fill-in the blank) is someone else’s fault. Actually, most of the issues staring us directly in the face could be rectified with a little backbone and character. Like so-called fake news. If we didn’t consume so much of this fucking dreck, then there wouldn’t be a market for assholes like this guy, making shit up in his basement, and laughing all the way to the bank. Isn’t capitalism grand?

Fake news-free, at Curtis Memorial Library

Fake news-free, at Curtis Memorial Library

Continue reading

Finding the Story

My regularly-scheduled Friday blog post got waylaid by snow, an early morning interview about lobsters (followed by another one a bit later in Portland), and a newspaper deadline.

Notepad and pen (and a thumb drive).

Notepad and pen (and a thumb drive).

I find my stories by putting boots on the ground. That takes time, some old-fashioned tools, and it sometimes supersedes blog posts. I also was forced to forgo my Friday morning pool time, also.

Add a laptop and a digital recorder.

Add a laptop and a digital recorder.

Court of Public Opinion

There is a belief in some circles that news and journalism has only recently succumbed to pressures from the masses and corporate interests, dictating what’s acceptable for publication. Knowing a little about the past will quickly cure you of that notion and any nostalgia about the “good ole’ days.”

E. B. White wrote an essay for The New Yorker that the magazine published around this time (January 31) back in 1948. It was titled, “Expediency.”

E. B. White and Martha White, Allen Cove, 1957.

Continue reading

Journalism Takes a Hit

After just eight issues, Portland’s newest alt-weekly, DigPortland, is no more. For the purposes of self-disclosure, I did write one article for the fledgling publication, and my name is listed as a contributor.

There’s always a curve and an evolution with any new publication, especially one that publishes under the alt-news banner. Each issue seemed to be building off the previous one, and it felt to me like there was a definite transition from prior issues (and prior publications) covered in town, like #Ferguson and race (the Samuel James feature, in what was the “old” Phoenix was stellar and one of my favorites), dumpster-diving, and I even got to take umbrage with an event masquerading as an energy panel that was simply promoting the build-out of natural gas, tied to fracking. Where else could a freelancer have that opportunity save for an alt-weekly that was tacking a course that allowed reporting with an edge. Continue reading

Back It Up

I try to spend one day each week doing research at a local library, either for an article I’m working on, or for potential ones. As a freelancer, research helps in generating new ideas and keeping stories in the pipeline. I also get to read what others are talking/writing about.

The internet certainly allows you to do your research from home. There is a downside to that method, however. I also find corresponding value in getting out into the real world occasionally. Working at home is great and all, but at some point, the walls begin closing in, especially during January and February. I even think my weekly research trips spur creativity and productivity. An added plus is that going to a physical repository of books and information—i.e. a library—gets me away from my screens for a bit. Continue reading