The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

No. He ain't a journalist either.

Fair warning. This contains some profanity.
You may have read the "Open Letter" posted by the Humans of New York (as opposed to the C.H.U.D. of New York, I suppose) . In case you have not read it, here ya go. Read. I'll wait.
An Open Letter to Donald Trump:
Mr. Trump,
I try my hardest not to be political. I’ve refused to interview several of your fellow candidates. I didn’t want to risk any personal goodwill by appearing to take sides in a contentious election. I thought: ‘Maybe the timing is not right.’ But I realize now that there is no correct time to oppose violence and prejudice. The time is always now. Because along with millions of Americans, I’ve come to realize that opposing you is no longer a political decision. It is a moral one.
I’ve watched you retweet racist images. I’ve watched you retweet racist lies. I’ve watched you take 48 hours to disavow white supremacy. I’ve watched you joyfully encourage violence, and promise to ‘pay the legal fees’ of those who commit violence on your behalf. I’ve watched you advocate the use of torture and the murder of terrorists’ families. I’ve watched you gleefully tell stories of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. I’ve watched you compare refugees to ‘snakes,’ and claim that ‘Islam hates us.’
I am a journalist, Mr. Trump. And over the last two years I have conducted extensive interviews with hundreds of Muslims, chosen at random, on the streets of Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan. I’ve also interviewed hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees across seven different countries. And I can confirm— the hateful one is you.
Those of us who have been paying attention will not allow you to rebrand yourself. You are not a ‘unifier.’ You are not ‘presidential.’ You are not a ‘victim’ of the very anger that you’ve joyfully enflamed for months. You are a man who has encouraged prejudice and violence in the pursuit of personal power. And though your words will no doubt change over the next few months, you will always remain who you are.
Brandon Stanton
I have some severe heartburn over this letter and probably not for the reasons you suspect.
As I vent, lemme do some backgrounding. 
1) According to everything I found out, Mr. Stanton is 32. This gives me heartburn for completely irrational reasons. I've been a journalist as long as he's been alive. This just annoys me. It is stupid, but there it is.
2) His opening sentence is VERY cool.
3) His second sentence completely, totally and without any question whatsoever CONTRADICTS his first statement.
About halfway down, he says, "I am a journalist, Mr. Trump." No, he ain't. If you are a real journalist you cannot make statements like "I’ve refused to interview several of your fellow candidates." No. Journalists interview people. Journalists publish what they say. It's none, not one damned subatomic particle, of a journalist's business WHAT they say. 
His third sentence also proves he is not a journalist. "I didn’t want to risk any personal goodwill by appearing to take sides in a contentious election."
Oh. Hell. No. in miles long flaming letters on the surface of the moon so the entire planet can see it. In this ONE sentence, Mr. Stanton has accomplished two things simultaneously. 1) He's taken sides. 2) He's proven he is absolutely political. This is, frankly, the biggest f'ng pile of bullshit I've seen in a while. 
So here's my Open Letter to Brandon Stanton
Mr. Stantion,
I admit to not knowing much about you. However, I've been a journalist as long as you have been alive. I'm not here to exchange war stories or such, but I am here to say, Mr. Stanton, if your letter is accurate, you are not a journalist. In case you wonder, I am a journalist, dad, preacher, hunter, author, publisher, editor, redneck, genius, too fat and a bunch of other things. I keep 'em separate. Your letter says you don't. Real journalists do.
Journalists have opinions. We keep 'em to ourselves. We interview people who we may personally despise. They have the right to be heard and we have the duty to help get their message out. When the person with the message is a front runner for the President of the United States, this becomes a sacred duty and the highest achievement a real journalist could possibly hope for.
Mr. Stanton. you say you are taking a moral stand. If you intend to be a journalist, your only moral stand is: Get the story accurate, complete and in context. Anything else and you become a news commentator along the lines of Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and others with an agenda. You, Mr. Stanton, have an agenda. This is entirely appropriate and commendable, provided you don't try to pass yourself off as a journalist when working that agenda.
Mr. Stantion, journalists REPORT the news. Entertainers make news. That's 100 percent acceptable from any point of view.

If you intend to be a journalist, then leave your moral high ground. Quit trying to curry favor, "ri
sk any personal goodwill." Quit worrying about what people may think and Report. The. News. If you do your job right, people will respect you for being honest, accurate and fair, none of which you manage in your letter. Your job as a journalist is to present all relevant sides of an issue, not decide which sides get an airing. To do otherwise means you are not a journalist.
You write representing the "Humans of New York." Mr. Stanton, I write as an EDITOR representing responsible journalists when I say, you are what you are, you have your opinions and nothing will change this. But when you let your opinions influence your reporting, you are not a journalist. 
Please stop representing yourself as such.

Ben Baker

Friday, March 4, 2016

Thank you

Can't speak for community newspapers editors everywhere, but I know a lot of us want to cover a state championship team.

I've been blessed to provide coverage for BUNCH of state champions. Circumstances prevented me from attending the state championship games at lot of the times. The times I did make to it a state playoff, the team I covered did not win the game.

Thursday, the Lady Rebels won the Georgia Basketball Championship and I was there. When the buzzer sounded, there were more than a few damp eyes on the court. Mine were two. I finally got to cover a state championship team in person from start to finish.

Wow. What a feeling. Next week's page one has a giant photo of beaming faces, a silver cup trophy and a white Wilson signature basketball. The Lady Rebs have to sign the ball yanno. For the first time in decades, I'm giving myself a photo credit. I just don't put my name under the pictures I take. This one is different. I want a reminder.

The Lady Rebs spent much of the 4th quarter just burning up the clock. Mylashia Yancey handled the ball a lot late in the 4th.  I was sitting under the goal as Mylashia Yancey dribbled back and forth across just about at mid-court as the clock wound down. Terrell County intentionally fouled her in an effort to get the ball back. The unassuming senior stepped up to the penalty shot line and sank two. When the Rebs got possession again, the Green Wave again fouled her. Two more points and the Terrell squad learned their lesson. Do not send Mylashia to the free throw line.

The game opened with Terrell's Green Wave turning it up and pouring it on. They jumped to a lead and the Lady Rebs just could not put together the offense they showed over and over again this year. I was only mildly concerned. The Lady Rebs had several "slow starts" several times this year, but they came out after halftime on fire.

This time was no different. The heat started in the second quarter when they finally went ahead. Terrell closed the gap to tie. The Rebs just got their hands up and played harder.

And, they won.

This caps a perfect 31-0 season for the Lady Rebels who are the only undefeated high school basketball team in Georgia this year.

It's also a newspaper editor bucket list item I can now check off.