For all you history buffs - make sure you listen to today's show with NPR Moscow correspondent Gregory Feifer. It's an in-depth conversation about the history of the Soviet War on Afghanistan. He wrote a book on the subject.
Yesterday our caller-driven show on the Future of Newspapers was pre-empted by President Bush's final press conference. We ended up taping the show (without callers unfortunately) to air in our 7PM slot. Thank god for our tag team Paul Janensch and Marcia Chambers who gave an overview the role of bloggers as journalists - and made a case for hyper-local dailies and weeklies. Ed McKeon of the Middletown Eye sent us a facebook message about his frusteration with local newspapers:
I read one paper newspaper, and many online versions, including the local paper (The Middletown Press). But in Middletown, we found that the newspapers were failing us. The Courant disappeared. And The Press couldn't afford to send reporters to all meetings and events. So we started The Middletown Eye (www.middletowneyenews.blogspot.com), an online newsblog written by volunteer community journalists. We scoop the local newspaper frequently, and our coverage is often more in depth.
And in response to our guests questioning the merits of "citizen journalists", Ed commented:
The show was great today, and I loved getting name-checked. Though I have to say that both Paul and Marcia paid The Eye a disservice. In many ways we are true citizen journalists, and not bloviators or rank amateurs. I sat for three hours at an Economic Development committee meeting tonight. This week we'll cover the Board of Ed, Planning and Zoning, among other events, and be the only "journalists" there. We label our commentary as such. I wrote for the Hartford Times for two years, and have made a living as a writer, interviewing hundreds of people. We have architects and professors and artists writing for us (one of our Wesleyan history professors has written some of the most outlandish basketball coverage). Sure, there's something to be said for journalistic training, and for (so-called) objectivity. But the Eye is really working in Middletown. Our reporters care about the issues in town like few local reporters do these days. We serve as watchdogs for local government.
Ed is among many active citizens who have taken matters into their own hands by starting local blogs. Perhaps this is the "newspaper" of the future.
And then there was the program on Corruption in Connecticut, with Lennie Grimaldi and journalist Greg Hladky. Listener Carmen got upset with John Dankosky about his reference to Rodney Dangerfield:
Unless I read him wrong, the radio host made a snotty comment, something to the effect that we didn't typically use RD quotes in dissecting politics. I'm no expert on RD, but as a popular culture figure who "couldn't get no respect" he made his own low-comedy social commentary, making swipes at every turn at the status quo of the big shots and their indifference to the common man.
I thought the host showed ignorance not to understand that this was what the whole discussion was about...how the elite laugh at the rules made for the little people.
Contrast this to the respectful tiptoeing around comments made by a convicted criminal, Mr. Grimaldi. Yes, he has served his time, but certain statements by him made it seem as if he hadn't accepted true responsibility.
I just asked John about this comment and he apologizes if he sounded snotty. He really loves Rodney Dangerfield. And I suppose it's up to you to decide whether you will forgive Lennie Grimaldi... or not. He certainly does provide a fascinating look at corruption from an insiders perspective.
As John posted earlier, we're in a transition period as our trusty former sound engineer, George Goodrich, heads off to nursing school. It's a challenge to produce shows every day that you, the listener, walk away from informed, enlightened, entertained, inspired, or maybe even angered. So please continue to let us know what topics you want to talk about. What are the issues that are affecting you locally? What are some big picture ideas that you want to explore?