The Journey of James Soule

South Portland City Councilor James Soule will not be seeking re-election.  James Soule has served an eventful three terms on Council, including a stint as mayor. Continue reading

Maine Lives Up To Dirigo In School Technology

Maine’s Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) began as the brainchild of former governor Angus King.  Over nearly a decade the program has expanded from 7th and 8th grade to include high school as well.  While the middle school MLTI program has a laptop in the hands of every student, the high school expansion does not yet meet 100% coverage.  23,000 laptops will be distributed to Maine high school students in roughly more than half of Maine’s 119 high schools.  67,000 laptops will go out for students and teachers grades 7-12.  This is the largest implementation of laptops to public school students in the nation.  Hey Arne Duncan, you know that 21st century innovation you’ve been lookin’ for?  Well take a look at this.

Now that Maine public schools have such a proliferation of computers, digital textbooks should be the next step.  Maine’s budget is tight, that is no news.  News on where the cuts will come to make ends meet will be coming.  Education, 40% of the state’s budget, will certainly face some cuts.  Digital textbooks could compensate for some of those cuts.  The cost of books are reduced.  The relevance of texts, especially history, can be updated as needed, not every five years.  The weight of backpacks are lessened.  Students can never claim they left their text at home or school.  Some digital texts even allow a teacher to see who has actually read what.

The benefits of digital texts are enormous for Maine.  We have the technology.  It is time to make them more than expensive word processors.  Innovate or be left behind.

No On 1 Responds To Same-Sex Marriage Veto Ballot Certification

As you are probably already aware, the People’s Veto of LD1020 will officially be on November’s ballot.  Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has announced that 60,391 of the more than 70,000 signatures collected by same-sex marriage opposition will count.  This is more than enough to break the 50,000 signature threshold for the People’s Veto to appear on this November’s ballot.  Though the battle for marriage has already begun, it will certainly start heating in these final months. Continue reading

A legend passes – Walter Cronkite RIP

How did I almost miss this one?

A legend among a field brimming with them, Walter Cronkite has passed away. Cronkite was 92 and passed today at his home in New York. I’ll post a few links to some stories on Cronkite’s passing, but I’ll leave you with a quote from his final broadcast.

“Old anchormen, you see, don’t fade away, they just keep coming back for more. And that’s the way it is.”

Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. – November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009

HuffPo
USA Today
LA Times
WaPo
NY Times

Associated Press Gets Angry – Fair use blogging

The AP is getting a little angry lately. Why? Because all of you irresponsible bloggers are using their stories and not sharing your enormous profits. Hey, if they want my ad profits they can have them, all 19 cents of them.

from NY Times

Taking aim at the way news is spread across the Internet, The Associated Press said on Monday that Web sites that used the work of news organizations must obtain permission and share revenue with them, and that it would take legal action against those that did not.

A.P. executives said they were concerned about a variety of news forums around the Web, including major search engines like Google and Yahoo and aggregators like the Drudge Report that link to news articles, smaller sites that sometimes reproduce articles whole, and companies that sell packaged news feeds.

They said they did not want to stop the appearance of articles around the Web, but to exercise some control over the practice and to profit from it.

The A.P. will also pursue sites that reproduce large parts of articles, rather than using brief links, and it is developing a system to track articles online and determine whether they were used legally.

Justin Gardner at Donklephant made a good point about the nature of blogging and the sharing of news

from Donklephant

See, a lot of blogging I see these days starts off by reading a story from the mainstream media, excerpting a small portion of it and responding to it. That’s what we do here at Donklephant, with the exception of a few essays and video reports. But, by and large, the business of blogging is about quickly sharing information with our readers and providing commentary along with it.

Blogging is often the digital equivalent of the barber shop/salon, kitchen table, and general store of previous generations. People gather their news, then sit around to discuss it. No one claimed they were the author of the stories they heard. They just repeated them, or shared the paper they might have in front of them, and gave their opinions.

This is like the AP is trying to hold back a flood by standing in front of the oncoming deluge holding a hand up and yelling STOP.

I use AP stories occasionally, but there is seldom a need for me to rely solely on them. With Google News I can find multiple sources for the same story in seconds. I always give a link to my sources not matter how much I use, so they certainly aren’t missing out on the credit.

Go ahead AP, tell me I can’t share the news I read from your newsstand. I’ll just go to one of the thousands next door.

Sunday Editorial on Editorial’s – The Portland Press Herald’s sad decline

Regular readers know that I am not a fan of the Portland Press Herald. My issues with the daily really boil down to personal choice. There is only so much time in the day. I can’t read everything, local or otherwise. I’m not going to waste my time reading something of questionable quality. I’m not going out of my way to attack the PPH. I can get Maine news from any number of sources on the web, including aggregated sources from Google News. When I can pick and choose the best of the best, why waste time with the least of the rest? My father in-law has said all he needs to read are the headlines of the Press Herald and he’s already got all he needs.

The Portland Press Herald has been in a steady decline since last summer. The paper has been on sale since March of 2008. Things headed even further south that June. Four bureaus were closed and 36 employees let go. A group recently approached owners of the Blethen Maine Newspapers, who owns the PPH, Kennebec Journal, Sentinel, and Sunday Telegram, in a effort to close a deal. It should be known that Blethen is now owned by a Seattle news corp.

from Recovering Journalist

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram: Put up for sale by the Blethen family last March; several allegedly close calls, but still no sale. Most recent development: The signing a couple weeks ago of a letter of intent for a sale, apparently to a group including previous attempted buyer Richard Connor, a Pennsylvania publisher. This would be Connor’s third swing at the papers, and it’s still not clear he can find financing, especially in this economy.

In all of this confusing mess it’s no surprise that the PHH’s quality has suffered. PPH writers are now missing stories from their own back yard. One opinion writer this morning calls the Press Herald on its lackadaisical journalism.

from PPH

I find it interesting to note that in the past week, The New York Times has published two long, detailed stories about life in Maine.

One was about the University of Maine at Presque Isle baseball team; the other about the lack of dentists in rural areas. Both were well-written and insightful. Both got plenty of space with pictures. [The Portland Press Herald] missed these. You constantly ignore other stories about life in our state, apparently satisfied with trying to puff life into your meager Web site, or with print content from wire services.

As one with some experience in the newspaper field, it would appear to me that you are comfortable with riding out your current ownership in the expectation that life will get better with a new owner.

That’s lazy journalism and an attitude not likely to improve with a change on the masthead. You are either in the business of journalism– eager to seek out stories, intent on reporting about life in our region – or you are not. A decent paper does not rely on PR releases or wire services.

You even relied on a freelancer to report on Yo-Yo Ma’s visit to Portland – truly a missed opportunity.

It’s no wonder you have a tough time economically: you have become irrelevant to Maine when your readers can find better stories in papers from away. Hopefully, luck is on your side. You’ll need it. You aren’t going to make it on craft.

With venerable papers like the Rocky Mountain Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and San Francisco Chronicle either closed or close to closing the Press Herald can’t afford to be second rate. They shouldn’t be filling their paper with stories written by people from away or letting Maine stories go by the wayside. That is why we want local papers. I can get my national and world news at a click. I can get my local news at a click too, but a local writer should be adding that touch of knowing the people and environment they are writing about. That special something really shines through in writing and grabs the attention of readers.

Make me want to read what you write! Otherwise you deserve to fail.

I should point out that somehow the PPH and Maine Sunday Telegram won best paper of the year from New England Newspaper Association in their circulation range.

Sunday Editorial on Editorial’s – The Portland Press Herald’s sad decline

Regular readers know that I am not a fan of the Portland Press Herald. My issues with the daily really boil down to personal choice. There is only so much time in the day. I can’t read everything, local or otherwise. I’m not going to waste my time reading something of questionable quality. I’m not going out of my way to attack the PPH. I can get Maine news from any number of sources on the web, including aggregated sources from Google News. When I can pick and choose the best of the best, why waste time with the least of the rest? My father in-law has said all he needs to read are the headlines of the Press Herald and he’s already got all he needs.

The Portland Press Herald has been in a steady decline since last summer. The paper has been on sale since March of 2008. Things headed even further south that June. Four bureaus were closed and 36 employees let go. A group recently approached owners of the Blethen Maine Newspapers, who owns the PPH, Kennebec Journal, Sentinel, and Sunday Telegram, in a effort to close a deal. It should be known that Blethen is now owned by a Seattle news corp.

from Recovering Journalist

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram: Put up for sale by the Blethen family last March; several allegedly close calls, but still no sale. Most recent development: The signing a couple weeks ago of a letter of intent for a sale, apparently to a group including previous attempted buyer Richard Connor, a Pennsylvania publisher. This would be Connor’s third swing at the papers, and it’s still not clear he can find financing, especially in this economy.

In all of this confusing mess it’s no surprise that the PHH’s quality has suffered. PPH writers are now missing stories from their own back yard. One opinion writer this morning calls the Press Herald on its lackadaisical journalism.

from PPH

I find it interesting to note that in the past week, The New York Times has published two long, detailed stories about life in Maine.

One was about the University of Maine at Presque Isle baseball team; the other about the lack of dentists in rural areas. Both were well-written and insightful. Both got plenty of space with pictures. [The Portland Press Herald] missed these. You constantly ignore other stories about life in our state, apparently satisfied with trying to puff life into your meager Web site, or with print content from wire services.

As one with some experience in the newspaper field, it would appear to me that you are comfortable with riding out your current ownership in the expectation that life will get better with a new owner.

That’s lazy journalism and an attitude not likely to improve with a change on the masthead. You are either in the business of journalism– eager to seek out stories, intent on reporting about life in our region – or you are not. A decent paper does not rely on PR releases or wire services.

You even relied on a freelancer to report on Yo-Yo Ma’s visit to Portland – truly a missed opportunity.

It’s no wonder you have a tough time economically: you have become irrelevant to Maine when your readers can find better stories in papers from away. Hopefully, luck is on your side. You’ll need it. You aren’t going to make it on craft.

With venerable papers like the Rocky Mountain Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and San Francisco Chronicle either closed or close to closing the Press Herald can’t afford to be second rate. They shouldn’t be filling their paper with stories written by people from away or letting Maine stories go by the wayside. That is why we want local papers. I can get my national and world news at a click. I can get my local news at a click too, but a local writer should be adding that touch of knowing the people and environment they are writing about. That special something really shines through in writing and grabs the attention of readers.

Make me want to read what you write! Otherwise you deserve to fail.

I should point out that somehow the PPH and Maine Sunday Telegram won best paper of the year from New England Newspaper Association in their circulation range.

Nightly news Roundup

NBC: Inauguration! Inauguration! Inauguration!

ABC: All aboard the Obama Express

CBS: America loves Obama says CBS. This young man says CBS wins the award for most obvious reporting.

Nightly News Roundup

ABC: Cheney makes the understatement of his political career

CBS: Obama pledges to do what Elmer Fudd couldn’t

NBC: Steve Jobs is not an android…yet

Katie Couric Not Center of Universe – Sarah Palin And Media Responsibility


Even after the election was over people still couldn’t get enough of Sarah Palin. The circus side show that is Sarah Palin continues to make headlines. A soon to be released documentary entitled “Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected.” contains an interview with Palin. Sarah Palin makes it abundantly clear in the interview that she is still bitter she did not remain a media darling throughout the election.

Palin targeted CBS reporter Katie Couric in her interview for the documentary. For those who don’t remember, Couric had asked Palin in an interview during the election season what newspapers and magazines she read, a pretty basic question. Palin couldn’t answer except to say “anything and everything”. Katie Couric told David Letterman after the election that she was disappointed no one followed up in future interviews. “Katie, you’re not the center of everyone’s universe,” replied Palin.

Palin blamed what she called unfair coverage on the old ghost of media biased along with classism and sexism. Palin apparently took Couric’s question on what she read as an attack on those “folks up there in Alaska”, inferring that perhaps Katie meant they didn’t read at all.

“To me the question was more along the lines of: Do you read? What do you guys do up there? What is it that you read? And perhaps I was just too flippant in my answer back to her…”

Palin also questioned the media’s coverage of Caroline Kennedy in an obvious attempt at class warfare.

“I’ve been interested also to see how Caroline Kennedy will be handled and if she’ll be handled with kid gloves or if she will be under such a microscope also. It’s gonna to be interesting to see how that plays out and I think that as we watch that we will perhaps be able to prove that there is a class issue here also that was such a factor in the scrutiny of my candidacy versus, say, the scrutiny of what her candidacy may be.”

The coverage of Caroline Kennedy has been fair. I have seen many questions raised to her qualifications as a senator on the blogs of The Moderate Voice and Donklephant as well as The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post have all reported fairly on Kennedy and not always favorably.

Frankly, I enjoy Sarah Palin. She has led me to put “SY” on descriptors of myself, though the only thing folksy about me is perhaps my large beard. Palin has spawned some of the best SNL in over five years. Unlike Ann Coulter who makes me sick when she speaks, Sarah Palin gives me a delightful chuckle. Perhaps that is why she scares me ten times more than the obvious looming right wing specter of Coulter.