Posted at 7:29 AM on April 20, 2006
by Bob Collins
We're pretty hot into this stuff at MPR with our Public Insight Journalism project that has attempted this sort of thing several times. I'd say the jury is still out on the technique. But it's worth looking. I've written extensively about the great polarization in political discourse. But I don't see the voting public as being completely unwilling participants in the situation; forced into the behavior that I won't bother documenting here. How to turn the course of discourse? Good question.
Happy to see that Sen. Mee Moua cast her first roll call vote of the legislative session yesterday (at least on the major pieces of legislation Votetracker is watching). She's a well-liked lawmaker by folks on both sides of the aisle, and has been restricted to bed rest for the last few months while awaiting the birth of her child.
Disclaimer: I produced the Flash slideshow for Moua's portion for the book "A Day in the Life of the American Woman" for IVillage as an independent contractor.
Posted at 9:17 AM on April 20, 2006
by Bob Collins
Will Bunch, of the Philadelphia Daily News, has one of the best MSM blogs in the country, which seems to prove that a non-reporter really can have something to say on a blog, and the average person really is smart enough to handle it.
Bunch on Tuesday developed a long-needed smackdown of the media, noting that not a single Pulitzer Prize went to someone who did some good old-fashioned digging; what we call an "enterprise story." They all, it seems, went to people and media organizations that did a little better job at covering the same stuff everyone else is covering, or -- as he put it better -- "we are pathologically unable to stop covering the exact same stories that everyone else is."
He raises the question about whether the Pulitzers have gotten too political; thus the blog's appearance in this space. His answer appears to be "no," but he delves into the WHY a little more closely than some journalists would like, when raising the question of why there's no real investigative reporting at the White House anymore, for example.
The minute they write such an article, they are persona non grata in the West Wing, and it's hard to cover the White House when the White House hates your guts. That's even more true on the local level.
Bingo. A fear of offending someone. Unhealthy for journalists. Unhealthy for democracy. I'll leave it to others to figure out why.
There's a campaign going on. It's not too late to get the inside track on Pulitzer 2007.
Sixth District congressional contenders Rep. Phil Krinkie and Rep. Jim Knoblach have been beating each other up pretty good on the campaign trail the last few weeks.
But time is running out for either of them to break from the other somehow at the Legislature to show where they differ.
According to Votetracker (and including last night's vote on the higher education bill in Ways and Means), they're 8 for 8 on the major legislation that they've voted on during this session. Here's Krinkie. Here's Knoblach.
It's not Rathergate by a longshot but the blog MNPublius showed why the world of blogging provides a watchdog that is pretty keen of eye. MNPublius posted yesterday that the Mark Kennedy congressional Web site (not to be confused with the campaign) posted a press release with an April 19 date advising constituents of online tax preparation services. Of course, the deadline for filing taxes was April 17.
It was a posting not unlike some of the partisan shots that political sites take at philosophical opposites.
But today he reports that the release is still online, but the date now reads April 11, or 6 days before the deadline.
Thing is: he saved the screen shot of the original.
In all fairness, however, a couple of things: nobody in the press actually pays any attention to these sorts of press releases. Second, it depends on what content management system Congress uses for its Web site and when the Web person posts them. Was it the same day they were mailed out or, more likely, faxed? Is it a database? A template? A lot of Web sites are archives and stuff often gets into the archives several days later.
Since nobody knows for sure, one can't really ascribe a sinister motive here, but it is a reminder than the bloggers are always watching.
Also a good reminder that the "strike" command is a much better editing tool for online material than a 'delete' command.
Posted at 1:16 PM on April 20, 2006
by Bob Collins
Last night the Senate killed the omnibus tax bill, because of concern that it included property tax increases for businesses. So the DFL caucused today, and Dallas Sams moved for reconsideration, at which time Sen. Keith Langseth introduced an amendment -- approved -- that struck the property tax.
It's being debated again at this hour, Sen. Warren Limmer calling it "the Easter bill" because it has risen again. More later.
(Update) -- The bill passed on a 37-to-30 roll call vote.
I'm catching up on stuff because I had to leave work yesterday with yet another attack of Meniere's, so....
I don't really understand the technical stuff he's talking about here but Norwegianality has a blurb on how the Amy Klobuchar Web site focuses on certain "buzzwords."
He says...at least I think it's a he....
The words Klobuchar uses are pretty much an index of her power/action words that consultants have told her to use in order to win the election. Here, in alphabetical order, are Amy's eleven biggest buzzwords:
Posted at 2:26 PM on April 20, 2006
by Bob Collins
It looks like maybe next week -- or the week after -- we'll have the first of several Select A Candidates ready for public consumption (and criticism). I've contacted all the campaigns for their positions and a few have answered; most have not. That reminds to write something sometime on what an utter waste of time submitting anything via a candidate's Web site can be (with some exceptions).
Anyway, democracy is participatory and so is Select A Candidate. So if you've seen anything anywhere that sounds like a position from those below, please forward it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* His position on a statewide smoking ban
* Whether he considers tax increases necessary in the budget mix?
Huchinson has made it clear to me, through his communications director, that he's not going to "respond to any surveys." I asked about his plan for creating jobs and was told they'd get back to me. They didn't. So...
* Position on dedicating sales tax receipts to natural resources etc.
* Position on dedicating motor vehicle sales tax receipts to transportation.
* His job creation plan.
We've got 'em all. She was, without question, the most accessible candidate for the purposes of SAC.
I got 'em all.
* Position on dedicating motor vehicle sales tax receipts to transportation. (I could get this is if SF3764 ever sees the light of day in the Senate. I see it just got yanked out of the Transportation Committee and sent to Finance, btw).
I got 'em.
Via Kennedy v. the Machine, handled expertly by my good friend Gary Miller (even though he incorrectly puts Polinaut under the Loathesome Lefties category) , is a transcript of Mark Kennedy's appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show (heard locally on AM 1280, I'm told and I'll check it out).
I get the whole part about playing to the base and all that. I call it the "Don Cherry method" in honor of my favorite hockey coach who got the Boston Bruins to play well by whipping them up into "the world's against us" frenzy. It worked great until the players wised up.
This paragraph is worth analyzing. It started with a question of how many millions it'll take to take the Senate seat:
MK: Well, we've said...you've asked before, and I've said 15. It might need to be higher than that, but when you say we're not going to get any help from mainstream media, they're just not going to tell our story. We've got to tell our own story. And yes, there'll be a lot of outside groups coming in, but they can't really say this is a guy who is...grew up sharing a bedroom with three brothers. My first job was at age 14. I did everything from washing dishes at a bakery to pumping gas at a bait shop, to be the first boy in my family to go to college. I'm going to take that same zeal to keep the American dream alive for our kids. The message we have, I think, will resonate with Minnesotans. We just have to have the resources to get it out there.
Fair enough. Mainstream media: bad. I get it.
So I decided to take another look at the Mark Kennedy page on Campaign 2006.
Here's what I see:
* Thirteen separate UNFILTERED audio tracks from the senator on specific issues.
* An unfiltered and unedited interview with Rep. Kennedy that Tom Scheck did. (Listen)
* An hour live and unedited interview with Kennedy on March 2, 2006 (Listen)
* Kennedy's complete -- and unedited -- announcement he's running for re-election (Listen)
* Kennedy on MPR's Midday in November after his trip to Iraq. (Listen).
* Full and unedited audio of the March 3 debate between Klobuchar, Bell, and Kennedy in Mounds View (Listen)
* A story on Iraq with Kennedy given every opportunity to explain "his story" (Read)
* Mark Kennedy -- and only Mark Kennedy -- reacting to the president's proposed budget (Listen)
The thing is Hewitt set Kennedy up for the answer earlier in the interview with this puffball:
HH: One of the things that strikes me when we go to the fair, and I hope we'll be at the fair this Summer so we can check in with you there, I know we're coming in September, is that Minnesota Public Radio is a real dominant media player in your state. A lot of good people working there, but it is decidedly left of center. And when you add in the Strib, the Pioneer Press,there isn't a lot of opportunity for a insurgent Republican campaign based on good government and good accounting to get much of a fair shake.
Really? What's all that stuff I just listed?
Personally, I think a good answer might have been, "Hugh, have you actually seen MPR's Campaign 2006 site? You can actually go there and listen to all sorts of information on a page devoted exclusively to me. Unfiltered. Unedited. It's really a great service and, of course, the page on me dwarfs any other resource available. I don't particularly like public radio, but I gotta admit, that's a damned good Web page and if people really want to know more about me, that's a darned good place to start. Granted they've got information about my opponent(s) too, but what can you do, eh Hugh? Democracy is funny that way."
But it wasn't. Don Cherry isn't the coach of the Bruins anymore and just look at the sad state of that team. So I'm not stupid. I get why it wasn't.
But maybe the next time Kennedy is on Hewitt's show, he'll revisit the issue. Because if he's on for the same length 4 more times, he'll equal the length of time Kennedy gets for a single appearance on MPR.
By the way -- and again for the record -- the first mainstream media to talk to Mark Kennedy way back when he was a nobody running for David Minge's seat, wasn't Hewitt. It was Minnesota Public Radio. I know. It was me. He even told the "red ribbon" story. Beat you by six years, Hugh.
"Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises; and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits."
Posted at 8:10 PM on April 20, 2006
by Bob Collins
MPR's Midday takes a look at the future of the conservative movement with two of its long-time stars starting around noon on Friday. Newt Gingrich and Vin Weber take part in the broadcast, originating from MPR's The Forum.
Apparently it's "we don't have one," according to Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press.
One message? Hmmm. I don't know. Let me think about it," Alvaro Cifuentes said after a long pause. Several minutes later, the head of the Democratic National Committee's Hispanic Caucus said, "You can't try to simplify your politics with a slogan. You can't."
Anyway, the Dems are having their spring meeting in New Orleans. Apparently their message -- at least until they come up with a better one -- is going to be "we're not the Republicans," is what the head of the Indiana Democrats seemed to be saying.
"If your opponent is self-destructing, let them do it," said Mike Edmondson, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party.
That ignores a few commonly held principles of successful branding. First, you don't define a positive with a negative. And, two, you don't define who you are by who you aren't.
And don't expect Fleetwood Mac to help you out, either.
Posted at 11:24 PM on April 20, 2006
by Bob Collins
Yeah, you're right. Polinaut never sleeps.
In the early morning papers, The New York Times does a piece on how the rising gasoline prices are becoming the centerpiece of several Democratic campaigns. Guess which one locally?
Now, I know you didn't ask but here's Polinaut's handy, dandy method for controlling high gas prices in the family jallopy.
1. Put $20 in gas in at the start of the week.
2. Plan on not putting another $20 in until next week.
3. Stop driving if you run out of gas.
Trust me. This works.