The people with a heart, life lessons from a death on Superior, guns and the illusion of protection, immigration and the dairy farm, and the power of eggs.
Public Radio, which is slowly erasing its humorless image, may be about to wipe away the last vestige of earnestness in its midst: the membership drive.
WBEZ in Chicago -- the This American Life people -- is launching a 'campaign' to encourage Chicagoans to have more babies to support its 2032 membership drive.
The station is offering a Facebook app to connect people with "similar interests" to make the process a little easier.
Poynter's blog indicates there could be a problem. The average age of NPR listeners is 49.(3 Comments)
The talk of Boston media today is an article in Boston magazine in which media critic Alan Siegel dismantles the city's sportswriters. It's an article that could have been written in many media markets -- including this one -- where the traditional sportswriter provides game stories and nuggets while his/her national media competition provide the analysis sports fans tend to crave.
Siegel's essay offers more questions -- is the old style of reporting on sports essentially over? Change certain words accordingly in the following excerpt:
And it's not just the city's core sports personalities that haven't changed much. The way the local media covers games is stuck in the past, too. Beat writers may blog, chat, and utilize social media now, but after games, they're still churning out the same kinds of vanilla recaps that have long been a newspaper staple. While these types of stories have the capacity to be poetic--Gammons's lyrical piece after Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is considered the modern standard--today's versions rarely rise to such levels and, in the end, just end up rehashing hours-old events (as if the highlights weren't immediately available online).
In most game stories, there's a conspicuous lack of creative analysis, which is compounded by the local media's apparent allergy to the type of advanced statistics that other outlets have used to shine new, interesting light on old sports. For instance, after the Patriots earned a spot in the AFC Championship game by beating the Houston Texans in January, the Herald dutifully recapped the series of events in the game, sprinkling in quotes like Tom Brady saying afterward, "I'm tired, man." (One would think so!) Tight end Aaron Hernandez offered this enlightening bit of pablum: "We've still got one more to go to get to the big dance, so we've got to keep playing and come to play next week." And defensive standout Vince Wilfork was captured saying, "It's sweet playing in the AFC Championship." Another big shocker. Meanwhile, the sharp minds over at the national website Pro Football Focus informed their readers that the Texans blitzed on 48.8 percent of their plays, a decision that allowed Brady to pick their defense apart. When Houston did get to Brady, he was 0 for 5 on completions, but those occasions, the site reported, were rare. The difference between the two approaches was night and day.
Siegel also suggests local sportswriters in his market are more interested in their TV and radio gigs than their newspapers. That's got to be on the minds of Twin Cities newspaper bosses who can switch between the two all-sports stations in this town if they want to keep tabs on what their employees are up to.
But Siegel's biggest damnation is one that is familiar in the Twin Cities too. When there's a huge local sports story, it's often a national sportswriter breaking it:
In a landscape where being loud and controversial is valued over being smart and insightful--and over doing the difficult work of investigative reporting--it's no surprise that the Boston sports media keeps getting beat on genuinely important news, like Passan's story about the Red Sox players meeting with ownership. That's hardly the only example. If news breaks on the Celtics beat, for instance, chances are it's coming from Passan's colleague at Yahoo! Sports, Adrian Wojnarowski. Last April, he--not a local writer--reported that Boston had attempted to deal Ray Allen and Paul Pierce at the trading deadline. And when Allen signed with the Miami Heat in July, it was Wojnarowski who shed light on the behind-the-scenes friction that made Allen want to leave, and who scored the key interview with coach Doc Rivers.
Wojnarowski is the writer who got the Kevin Love interview in which the onetime Timberwolves star appeared to diss on his employer.(2 Comments)
It was 27 years ago today that the Challenger exploded. In some ways, it marked the beginning of the end of America's human space exploration era in which it launched its own citizens into space.
President Reagan gave a memorable speech that night, invoking images of patriotism and openness...
But an investigation would reveal the contributing cause of the accident was "flaws in the decision-making process." For many people, that was a bureaucratic way of saying "incompetence" and/or "political pressure."
Physicist Richard Feynman dissented from the presidential commission's conclusions:
If a reasonable launch schedule is to be maintained, engineering often cannot be done fast enough to keep up with the expectations of originally conservative certification criteria designed to guarantee a very safe vehicle. In these situations, subtly, and often with apparently logical arguments, the criteria are altered so that flights may still be certified in time. They therefore fly in a relatively unsafe condition, with a chance of failure of the order of a percent (it is difficult to be more accurate).
Official management, on the other hand, claims to believe the probability of failure is a thousand times less. One reason for this may be an attempt to assure the government of NASA perfection and success in order to ensure the supply of funds. The other may be that they sincerely believed it to be true, demonstrating an almost incredible lack of communication between themselves and their working engineers.
In any event this has had very unfortunate consequences, the most serious of which is to encourage ordinary citizens to fly in such a dangerous machine, as if it had attained the safety of an ordinary airliner. The astronauts, like test pilots, should know their risks, and we honor them for their courage. Who can doubt that McAuliffe was equally a person of great courage, who was closer to an awareness of the true risk than NASA management would have us believe?
Let us make recommendations to ensure that NASA officials deal in a world of reality in understanding technological weaknesses and imperfections well enough to be actively trying to eliminate them. They must live in reality in comparing the costs and utility of the Shuttle to other methods of entering space. And they must be realistic in making contracts, in estimating costs, and the difficulty of the projects. Only realistic flight schedules should be proposed, schedules that have a reasonable chance of being met. If in this way the government would not support them, then so be it. NASA owes it to the citizens from whom it asks support to be frank, honest, and informative, so that these citizens can make the wisest decisions for the use of their limited resources.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.(6 Comments)
At this time a week ago, with the bitter cold squeezing us for every thing we're worth, it looked like the iconic Madeline Island Ferry on Lake Superior would call it a season. The ice was thickening and people were encouraged to move their cars to the mainland.
It hasn't been that warm since but it's been warm enough to change the outlook a bit.
The ferry is on a "take it as it comes" routine and now says it will operate at least through Wednesday, but it appears an increasing possibility that the ferry could operate this winter without interruption if it makes it through the next few weeks.
"How often does that happen," I asked on Facebook today.
Bob, We had our first winter of non-stop operations in 1998, in 2002 we had a 1 week shut down and in 2006 we had a 2 week shut down. We also had a non-stop winter of operation in 2012. Climate change is have a very dramatic impact on the length of our operating season.
Former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch told WCCO Radio today she's never watched (or listened to) the December 2011 press conference at which it was announced she'd resigned her leadership post because of an affair with a staffer.
She says she probably won't ever watch it. That's too bad, because looking back at it now, coupled with yesterday's Star Tribune story, her claim that four of her male colleagues were staging a power play gains at least a fair amount of traction.
"There was a meeting at the Minneapolis Club where I was taken to under false pretenses, and those actors... I think they think their intentions were clear. They knew what they were doing going into it. As more intentions came to light, that became clear. What was particularly difficult to understand was the ferocity," she told WCCO Radio's Chad Hartman.
Even before Ms. Koch broke her silence with yesterday's Star Tribune article, there was a stench around the story and timetable the Republican men -- Sen. Chris Gerlach, R-Apple Valley, Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, Sen. Geoff Michel and Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie -- painted at the news conference announcing Koch's resignation.
That much was clear when former GOP staffer Cullen Sheehan later acknowledged to MPR's Tom Scheck that the other Republican leaders knew about the alleged affair three months earlier than the timetable they outlined at the news conference by Sen. Geoff Michel.
At a hearing on his actions last spring, Sen. Michel insisted he played it by the book.
"The comment about the cover-up is political nonsense," he said. "It was Senate Republican leadership who went to Sen. Koch to confront this. When she stepped down it was Senate Republican leadership who told the public the next day, rather than wait for it to come out in dribs and drabs. This 21st century media.... you guys act quickly."
Now, however, elements of that story are falling in dribs and drabs.
We now know, for example, that Sen. Michel,
in consort with lawyer Ron Rosenbaum (see comments for clarification. Rosenbaum's involvement was passing Michel's willingness to meet with WCCO, which came from Todd Rapp. The goal was for Michel to get the info to 'CCO, but Rosenbaum wasn't an architect of this), slipped the story of an affair to WCCO TV, apparently to Pat Kessler.
That's a coup (of a different kind) for Kessler, but it still doesn't explain the insistence via the Star Tribune story that the leak to WCCO had to occur to help the Republican men get on top of the story. Whatever pressure they claim to have felt in the situation, they intentionally created by leaking the story in the first place.
Compare that to what Sen. David Hann said when he was asked about the news conference announcing Koch's resignation. "It's a total surprise," Hann told MPR News.
A surprise? It shouldn't have been. Hann was one of the men who set Koch up at the Minneapolis Club.
The men insisted it was Koch who brought up the idea of resigning. But in her interview with the Star Tribune, that's not how she remembers it:
At the end of the three-hour meeting, Koch said, Hann gave a clear directive: "He said, 'You are going to resign tonight,' " and they were going to fire Brodkorb the next day.
The resignation was announced the next day at a news conference, and Hann told the Star Tribune why the news conference had to be held.
"There were a number of stories that were being circulated that we were aware of that were absolutely not true," Hann told the Star Tribune. "Things being said needed to be corrected."
"I think if he was trying to make the situation smaller by doing that, all evidence points very much to the contrary," Koch said today. She's right.
It was textbook politics. Create the dribs and drabs by leaking them, and then hold a news conference under the guise of needing to get out in front of the leaked information.
That, for the record, is how a power play works.