Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weakly To Weekly

There has been self indulgent back patting sessions at the Daily Astorian and the East Oregon Publishing Company over their series on climate change and the environment. It seems disingenuous for a business that uses gross amounts of pulp, fuel and natural resources to call all the other kettles black.

If the Daily Astorian wanted to walk the walk they should reduce their newspaper to a weekly publication. Consider all the paper they use and all the fuel they use to distribute this paper five days a week. This came to mind after looking at the Daily Astorian the other day. There was local news on the front page, maybe 1/10th of page 2 had any local content, 1/3 of page 3 had local content, and page 11 had 80% news. Summing it up there was slightly more than two pages of local news of which one quarter was fluff.

I recently read through a copy of the Chinook Observer, a weekly paper which is owned by the same company as the Daily Astorian. This paper had substance and a good professional look about. It contained a weeks worth of news which seemed much more substantial than the Astorian and its scant daily effort even when all five days are combined.

The Astorian can counter and say their readers need the news on a daily basis, where in actuality it is the Astorian that needs the daily ad revenue from five day a week publication. This paper is obsolete moments after they publish. Their online presence is more useful for up-to-the-moment news, though the effort of northcoastoregon.com, with a smaller staff and fewer resources out-scoops the local standard on a daily basis.

The Astorian may also be afraid to disturb the steady stream of biased journalism and propaganda that they use to dictate their vision to the readers along with the manipulation they inflict upon the local political climate.

The Daily Astorian will probably never reduce their production to save the environment or to put out a better publication. It is a shame. How long can they suffer a declining readership before they decide something needs to be changed?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Respectfully Submitted

Political blackmail has been discussed since there has been politics, essentially since man has begun living in tribes. Human relations, being what they are, power is hungered for often more than wealth. The meaning of wealth changes. Power is power and the weaker then human being is that seeks power the more often the tool that human will use is fear.

Much like an animal, the weak human has learned that fear is a tool that can be wielded by anyone of any stature, as long as one has no scruples. Just start our slow, using fear against the weak and defenseless, to get a feel for it. How far can you push people in fear before they they are cornered and lash out? What can you use to protect yourself against repercussions? Who do you look to as an ally (even if temporary)? Who do you target as an enemy? How long before you can take down bigger foe?

Using fear as a lever for respect is the way of the weak. The way of the strong is through earned. It is slow and often goes through a process of being earned and loosing it and being earned again. It is the hard road, where people misunderstand good intentions, where the percentage of failures far outweighs the percentage of successes. It is the way of those who, actually, are not striving to be respected, it is merely a bi-product of the life they are leading. It is what makes the good leaders.

Strong people earn respect not because they want it, nor see it as a tool to use to defeat an enemy, but as a natural part of life that is everyone’s just due. Strong people respect everyone. Low and high, poor and rich, minority and majority, all not only deserving of respect but also receiving it. Strong people do not say, “Everyone, except for …” They say, “Everyone, including …” Strong people look for a way for everyone, including the weak, to come out ahead, to prosper. Strong people know that a community is as strong as its weakest member and they don't rid of the weak, they help to make them strong.

As you put your pen to the ballot this weekend think about that. Do you vote for a weak person to lead, or a strong one? Do you vote for someone because of what they are against or because of what they are for? Do you vote because of fear or because of strength? Do you vote for someone to lead you into a future, or because they say they must guide you out of a past?

If there is only one name to vote for and you do not know the name, or if you do know it and know it to be that of a weak person, leave it blank. Let me repeat that. LEAVE IT BLANK. Do NOT write in any name. If the individual running for that position gets less votes than the number of ballots turned that is called an under vote and it sends a clear message to the candidate that ran that the people are not pleased with their conduct and they had better learn to do better as leaders and it sends a clear message to someone who was thinking of running for the position that they would have had a chance.

Use your ballot wisely, think about the future of the county. Tourist economy? Trade economy? Someone who is looking for a diverse economy? Should city folk run the county? Should the county have more say in the cities? Is the sheriff deserving of your vote, or of anyone’s vote? Do you know the judge? What do you know of that candidate for commissioner? Enough to vote for them? Leave it blank if you don’t know. Leave it blank if they didn’t convince you. Don’t vote out of fear. Vote for strength, not weakness.

One more thing, look at the ballots. See how many people are running unopposed? See how many get on water districts, fire districts, even some school districts completely unopposed? Now listen to the whining voice on the radio, complaining, complaining and complaining about this that and the other that is wrong, wrong, wrong with our cities and our county because of “cronyism” or the “good ole boy” system.

Remember these ballots, filled with all those people running unopposed. Cronyism and good ole boys? Or lack of people willing to put their names on ballots or on volunteer forms? Those whiners on the radio? Most have never run or volunteered. A few have tried one or two things and then dropped them because they didn’t get the instant respect they thought should be theirs.

The volunteers and elected officials that are there, year in and year out, are there because they did dare to put a name on the ballot or on a volunteer form despite nasty press and new, troublesome, ethics laws. They allowed themselves to be scrutinized by the media and now by you. Remember that much and vote for those who have EARNED respect, not those who have frightened you into giving it to them.