Lately in the newspaper

I actually have been keeping up with the news, despite being preoccupied with other issues.

:: Religion beat became a test of faith was LAT writer William Lobdell’s first person account of how he came to Christ and how that newfound faith was tested the longer he covered religion. The accepted and probably most common response to the previous statement is likely, “well, he was covering religion, and we all know being really Christian is about the relationship.” That being said, I admit that being a Christian and a journalist is to constantly be at odds with yourself and the people you work with and trust to support you and back you up — and with yourself and the things you see and read about every day.

The questions that I thought I had come to peace with started to bubble up again. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does God get credit for answered prayers but no blame for unanswered ones? Why do we believe in the miraculous healing power of God when he’s never been able to regenerate a limb or heal a severed spinal chord?

I haven’t been a religion beat reporter before, so I don’t know all of what Lobdell went through, but I have to admit that seeing some of the nutty and horrible things that people do to each other that make the news every day — it makes me wonder about where the godly meaning is in these horrible acts, too.

I guess, as with society as a whole, there are good people and situations and bad people and situations that make no sense at all. I just hope that the experience hasn’t completely turned Lobdell off of Jesus.

:: Anonyblogs hit the mainstream, via this LAT story on blogs focusing on local governments and penned by anonymous personas. I’ve long had an anonyblog, but it was for me and my own personal musings, rather than anything I wanted to get noticed. The story, interestingly enough, somehow sparks a back-and-forth with LA Observed over (perceived?) disapproval for the anonybloggers’ decision to be anonymous. I’m not entirely sure why the anonymity is so important since I don’t really picture the cities these blogs focus on (like foothill communities and Claremont) as the type where people retaliate for bad press, thereby necessitating anonymity. I do, however, see the need for such community-centric blogs, since so few newspapers actually do hyper-local reporting nowadays.

:: I am really enjoying the LAT’s Dustup with Luke Ford and KTLA’s Eric Spillman. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a blogger battle royale, but its definitely enjoyable. Take a peek at Wednesday’s back and forth:

Ford (representing the bloggers):

As a blogger, I am despised and rejected of journalists, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

I gave my back to the smiters, and hid not my face from shame and spitting. I have borne your griefs and carried your sorrows. I was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, and with my stripes you are healed.

It seemed like just an ordinary January day in 1999, when, in the course of doing my journalistic due diligence, I came across topless porn actress Nancy Vee walking in a garden. With no thought for my own dignity, I selflessly and immediately threw my hands over her chest to preserve her honor (this is forever immortalized on certain JPEGs floating around the Internet).

Similarly, Eric, by breaking the Antonio Villaraigosa story, I covered up your journalistic nakedness. I took the shame of writing about the mayor’s sex life onto myself so that you and your peers could follow up with the mayor: “Tony, we hate to ask you this, but there’s this darn blog…”

Reporting is now a profession. It goes by the fancy name of “journalism.” It’s a major in dozens of universities, and you can even go to graduate school to study it. Journalism has this ponderous code of ethics, and its practitioners at the big-city level are overwhelmingly bourgeois. They don’t want to write, unbidden, about somebody’s sex life because they are above such things (also, journalists are overwhelmingly secular, and they don’t want to be outed when they screw around).

Spillman’s reply (in the mainstream journalists’ corner):

Calm down, Luke, no need to nail yourself to a cross. Reporters in this town ought to repent on their own. The media didn’t press very hard at all after the mayor announced that he was separating from his wife. And we should have. Anyone have a hair shirt?


2 thoughts on “Lately in the newspaper

  1. You find the most interesting things to blog about. Thank you for broadening my horizons. Good work!

  2. I run the anonymous Claremont Insider blog the LA Times article referred to. Two points.

    First, we’re not doing this to “get noticed.” We’re just trying to write about things that have been going on beneath the surface in town for a long time. We don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to market ourselves. We just focus on writing accurately and providing linked documentation to news articles and online city documents to back up our assertions.

    Second, your point about Claremont not being the type of city where retaliation goes on is simply untrue. When the town was trying to implement an assessment district to fund the maintenance of school facilities, several downtown business owners reported being threated by a certain former mayor, who told the business owners if they didn’t support the assessment,they would never get any future business from city hall.

    And, in 2005, some of the paid city staff worked with a group of former city councilmembers and city commissioners to run full-page attack ads seeking to censure a councilperson who was elected as a reform candidate.

    At the same time, they also ran other ads attacking a person running for council who was also a reform candidate. That second person was attacked with ads that contained false information about his employment record with a California State Senator. The senator, in fact, sent a letter that itself ran as a full-page in the local paper. The senator refuted all of the allegations in the attack ads and gave his support to the person in question.

    So, contrary to what you may perceive just looking at the surface of things in town, the local politics here is a meatgrinder and the small group of people who have controlled things have not hesitated to ruin the good names, businesses, and reputations of many people who have tried to change things.

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