Tuesday, November 13, 2012
New Mexico In Depth Announces Radio Partnerships
Nice things happened in New Mexico's world of getting the truth out to the people while I was out campaigning. I did not take time to cover the founding of New Mexico In Depth an exciting new adventure in "In Depth" Journalism founded by Tripp Jennings and Heath Hausemann.
Below is a press release today from New Mexcio In Depth:
New Mexico In Depth is announcing two new partners – KUNM and Fronteras, a multimedia collaboration of several public-radio stations from across the Southwest.
NMID plans to work with Albuquerque's KUNM-FM, the state's largest public-radio station, to shine light on some of the state's most pressing problems and explore possible solutions. With Fronteras: The Changing America Desk, NMID will cover border issues, including immigration and changing demographics, with a focus on New Mexico.
Alisa Joyce Barba, Fronteras' senior editor, said the partnership will allow her organization to expand its coverage in New Mexico.
"We are excited about working with two seasoned journalists in New Mexico who share our passion for telling the stories from this state that have remained untold, uncovering the issues that fly below the radar and deepening our understanding of what is happening in our communities and what it means for the future," Barba said.
Richard Towne, KUNM's general manager, said the partnership with NMID is especially exciting because the station is working to increase its "service to the state's most vulnerable citizens."
"Our two organizations share the belief that we can serve New Mexicans better together than we can separately," Towne said. "Trip Jennings and Heath Haussamen are journalists of the highest caliber. Working together, we will increase our mutual abilities to engage citizens with the level of journalism our state deserves."
Barba, like Towne, spoke about the importance of news organizations working together. "We are all re-defining journalism these days, and these kinds of collaborations will inevitably enrich our experience of the world around us," she said.
Trip Jennings, NMID's executive director, hailed the collaborations. "Partnerships with KUNM and Fronteras will help us cover more ground and, frankly, stretch our journalistic muscles," Jennings said. "Heath and I come from print and online, so we can't wait to partner with our friends in radio. The collaborations represent a big step toward our goal of working on several media platforms."
Stories produced through NMID's partnership with Fronteras will be available to Fronteras' seven stations, which includes KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, and to other public-radio stations including KUNM. Jennings and NMID's Deputy Director Heath Haussamen have worked primarily in print and online, so the partnerships with Fronteras and KUNM create the potential for multimedia collaboration on projects that could appear in newspapers, on the radio and online.
Fronteras, whose collaborating stations stretch from Central Texas to Southern California, and from Las Vegas to the Mexican border, covers an area of about 9 million residents and reaches an audience of about 1 million listeners. In addition to Las Cruces, its stations are based in San Diego, Calif.; Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, Ariz.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and San Antonio, Texas. KRWG appears at 90.7 FM in the Las Cruces area, at 93.5 FM in Deming, 91.3 FM in Silver City, 91.9 FM in Truth or Consequences and Lordsburg, and at 98.5 FM in Alamogordo. Fronteras also produces a weekly TV show for Southern New Mexico's KRWG-TV.
KUNM's signal reaches about half of New Mexicans, and an estimated 108,000 people tune in each week (according to Arbitron Research, Inc., total service area surveyed for people aged 12+; averaged from Fall 2011 and Spring 2012. Mon-Sun, 6AM-Midnight. Arbitron data are estimates only.). The station is licensed to the Regents of the University of New Mexico. It airs at 89.9 FM in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, 88.7 FM in Socorro, 90.9 FM in Taos, and 91.9 FM in Las Vegas and Española.
The radio partners join three newspapers that have agreed to work with New Mexico In Depth. Earlier this month, NMID announced its partnership with the Santa Fe Reporter, a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 23,000 that has been an award-winning source of news and culture for Santa Fe since 1974.
“I’m excited to be working with NMID, and I’m confident that the combined talent and experience of our respective news teams will enable us to publish some groundbreaking stories,” said Alexa Schirtzinger, editor of the Santa Fe Reporter. “Together, we look forward to co-producing hard-hitting investigative work with a focus on public interest.”
“We’re excited too,” Jennings said. “In many ways, a partnership with the Reporter is a perfect fit. NMID aspires to do long-form journalism about issues of public interest in New Mexico. We can’t wait to team up with the Reporter’s staff.”
In October, NMID announced partnerships with two of the state's three largest daily newspapers, The Santa Fe New Mexican and Las Cruces Sun-News.
New Mexico In Depth is in the final stages of organization.
About New Mexico In Depth: Our goal is to foster, promote and publish journalism in the public interest. We aim to produce our own investigative reports and forge partnerships with existing media outlets around New Mexico in a bid to nurture a culture of ambitious journalism that tackles big questions and complex issues.
New Mexico In Depth is funded by donations, and we disclose information about our donors publicly to ensure transparency and accountability. Our funders include The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (wkkf.org), which is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States and guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive; The Marshall L. and Perrine D. McCune Charitable Foundation (nmmccune.org), which is dedicated to enriching the health, education, environment and cultural and spiritual life of New Mexicans; and The Santa Fe Community Foundation (santafecf.org).
Learn more about our funding at nmindepth.com/disclosure.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
New Mexico In Depth, a New Organization Receives Kellogg Foundation Grant
Great news for New Mexico; a new organization will focus on public-interest journalism in N.M.
As some of you may know DFNM received a DFA/NN scholarship to attend the Netroots Nation where many online journalists of all sorts gather to share ideas of what works and does not work. DFNM attended with the specific interest of finding out how current online media earn revenue. How are others doing this work of getting important information out to citizens being able to make ends meet? Basically the answers were not very promising.
Then there is this fabulous news this morning!
"The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded $525,000 to New Mexico In Depth, a new organization whose goal is to foster, promote and publish journalism in the public interest."
Two veteran journalists – Trip Jennings and Heath Haussamen –will lead New Mexico In Depth as it produces its own investigative reports and forges partnerships with existing media outlets around New Mexico in a bid to nurture a culture of ambitious journalism that tackles big questions and complex issues. Our focuses will include education, poverty, health and politics.
Jennings will serve as executive director and Haussamen will serve as deputy director. The two-year funding commitment from the Kellogg Foundation means New Mexico In Depth will begin publishing later this year. NewMexico In Depth is also funded in part by the McCune Charitable Foundation.
Jennings is an award-winning veteran journalist who has worked at newspapers across the nation, including in California, and Georgia. Besides working at the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe NewMexican, Jennings was part of a team that started the New Mexico Independent, an influential online newspaper.
Haussamen, a former award-winning newspaper reporter who worked with Jennings at the Independent, is the editor and publisher of the political news website NMPolitics.net. He plans to continue operating NMPolitics.net while working with New Mexico In Depth.
“We are inspired by Kellogg’s belief in the importance of probative journalism that ventures beyond the daily events to seek to explain what it all means to New Mexicans,” Jennings said.
“We’re excited by the potential New Mexico In Depth has to foster a stronger journalistic culture in our state,” Haussamen said. “We’re thrilled to be able to devote time and resources to building partnerships that make that a reality.”
This is such exciting news for New Mexico. Heath Haussamen NMpolitics.net has a great write up on this award. Heath also provided DFNM with the following statement:
"Deep, probative journalism is essential in our democracy, and our media desperately needs help in this area. Just today, The New Orleans Times-Picayune announced 200 layoffs as it struggles to adapt to the new world of Internet publishing. We hope to be part of the solution in New Mexico."
A huge Thank You to Trip Jennings and Heath Haussamen for stepping up for New Mexico's people and going the extra effort to apply for and receive this grant. And a huge Thank You to the Kellogg Foundation for seeing the need for investment in online media in the Land of Enchantment! We in New Mexico need the online media sources to continue to educate the people, bring fresh awareness to complex topics. Remember: Knowledge is power!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Steve Klinger Guest Blog: New Independent Newspaper 'The Light of New Mexico' Seeks to Illuminate Inconvenient Truths
This is a guest blog by Steve Klinger, a long-time journalist and editor of the Grassroots Press, on the recent launch of a new, independent print and online newspaper called The Light of New Mexico. Steve will be editing the paper, which will initially be published monthly. The first print issue of The Light of New Mexico hit the streets of Santa Fe on September 15, with a cover story on "The Politics of H2O: Who Controls Your Water?" It's also available for download as a pdf by clicking here.
The newspaper, published by Skip Whitson, will focus on "Illuminating Inconvenient Truths," and will be covering "Conscious Culture, including Politics, Reviews, Books and Entertainment." The Light of New Mexico is designed to serve as a progressive, alternative source of ideas, information and a networking nexus for north-central New Mexico and beyond, providing a newspaper, a blog and a community resource.
According to the paper's Mission Statement, "Our focuses include state and local politics, peace/nonviolence, environment, civil liberties, foreign policy, social justice, global awareness, fair trade, localism and sustainability, as well as an abiding appreciation for music and art as a force for change. We maintain a commitment to outreach, education, and peaceful dialogues to safeguard democracy and raise consciousness within our communities.
“It is the role of a newspaperman to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” –-Chicago journalist Finley Peter Dunne
Connecting the Dots
There are those who think the print newspaper is in its death throes and others who think words of any kind are just useless spitballs hurled by naïve optimists into the maelstrom of a crumbling democracy and a planet hurtling toward disaster.
Among the dwindling minority who are still willing or able to commit words to the printed page, even fewer are doing anything like real journalism, as the money behind the surviving mainstream media is too busy advancing the corporate agenda, promoting the so-called balance of false equivalents, or in some cases hacking the phones of crime victims in the race to pander to the lowest common subscriber denominator.
We won’t be doing things that way, and we thought you’d like to know.
I feel privileged to be associated with The Light of New Mexico, a new, independent monthly newspaper based in Santa Fe that will take a higher road in attempting, as our tagline states, to illuminate inconvenient truths. We considered numerous titles for our new publication, and various slogans as well, with a common theme of shedding light on the issues of the day: political corruption, connecting the dots between manmade climate change, gridlocked government, skyrocketing corporate influence in campaigns and legislation, and the threats to democracy our republic is facing on every level.
As I have done before in my nearly 40 years of newspaper work in New Mexico, most recently with Grassroots Press, I’ll be looking for stories that illustrate the realities ordinary people are facing in their daily lives, hoping to educate our readers and ourselves on the forces that are shaping our future in a downsizing and endangered nation. I’ll be exploring the ways in which the forces of greed and self-interest are attempting to hijack public policy. I’ll be featuring commentary from journalists, authors and experts on the critical times we face, plus a mix of pertinent syndicated material and open pages for you, our readers to fill, with your comments and unique perspectives on everything from politics to the arts.
Without deep pockets or any corporate support, we’ll also be relying on you to help us grow with your display advertising and your donations, as well as your feedback and suggestions.
Santa Fe is a remarkable place, with a rich history of cultural alchemy, a place that tolerates and elevates diversity, eclecticism and artistic expression. One of the oldest capital cities in North America, it arose on the site of far older Pueblos, a product of European colonialism and an often bloody clash of cultures -- Native American, Hispanic, Anglo -- and has been endlessly reinventing itself for better and worse ever since. These days, it’s a world-class destination, but also a place called home for nearly 70,000 folks, including some of the most talented and successful individuals on the planet, and the organizations they’ve brought with them. These include a vital emerging community of locavore, sustainable, nonprofit endeavors. Santa Fe also holds but a fraction of the population of the state of New Mexico that is our larger home, a coverage area into which we hope to expand as The Light of New Mexico grows; we hope to serve it with dedication and distinction.
Most of all, we hope you’ll read our words and help us write them. We hope to prove worthy of your interest and support. Obviously, we believe in the power of words to educate human beings and change history. We also think that time is growing short to do that under the umbrella of a free press in a besieged democracy. That’s why we feel our work is important, especially in a time when ever more of us are feeling afflicted, and those with the money and power are growing ever more comfortable.
This is a guest blog by Steve Klinger, who can be reached at Steve@thelightofnewmexico.com.
If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Dõna Ana County Democrats Partner with Others to Support Las Cruces Sun-News effort to Promote Civic Engagement in Schools
The Democratic Party of Dõna Ana County announced yesterday that it has signed on as a co-sponsor of the Las Cruces Sun-News Partners in Education program. The innovative program supports civic engagement and learning in local schools by providing local classrooms with a daily local up-to-date teaching tool, the local daily newspaper. The program makes available to teachers the classroom use of the newspaper to teach a variety of subjects including reading, math, science, writing and geography, as well as contemporary events.
“We find the Las Cruces Sun-News Partners in Education program to be an innovative and valuable learning tool for area schools and are happy to join with the Sun-News and other organizations in supporting this innovative program which promotes up-to-date general education and civic engagement among our local area students,” Christy French, the Chair of the local Democratic Party, said. “We salute the Sun-News for working to create an active and informed citizenship among our youngest citizens. We urge other community organizations to do the same. We believe that daily access to the local newspaper provides both a valuable teaching tool, and helps to set our students on a path toward life-long learning,” Christy French said.
As a ‘Silver Level’ sponsor, the Dõna Ana County Democrats contribution to the program will provide over 4,000 newspapers to area classrooms over the next year. The Las Cruces Sun-News Partners in Education program is a county-wide effort providing timely daily newspaper delivery into the classrooms of all Dõna Ana County Schools. The Democratic Party is one of many local community organization partners that has signed on to the Sun-News education effort.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Christy French Guest Blog: We Back Fairness for Judge Murphy
This is a guest blog by Christy French, Chair, Doña Ana County Democratic Party.
As fellow citizens and neighbors in Doña Ana County, we find it necessary to speak out publicly in defense of Judge Mike Murphy. We believe Judge Murphy, a distinguished member of the judiciary, is an innocent man, unjustly accused and, most regrettably, tried and convicted on blogs and in newspapers throughout our state. Make no mistake – this is not an issue of corruption or of a pay-to-play scheme. Rather, this is a political witch hunt being perpetrated by a vindictive former District Attorney who rather than address the challenges facing New Mexico, has appointed herself as the “Prosecutor in Chief” and has enlisted to her side a former candidate for Attorney General who sees this as an opportunity to position himself for some future elective office. In the process, this blatantly political misuse of power is being taken strictly to try and remove an elected Democratic judge from the bench in order to put an appointed Republican on the bench in his stead.
For the sake of educating the public and not misleading them as to the legal process in place, we wish to point out the following: Judges are, in fact, appointed by the governor. But we have a system of review in place in New Mexico which limits the governor from being given carte blanche in his or her appointments, and includes a process in which proposed appointees must meet high standards. The governor can only appoint candidates that have first passed through a rigorous vetting system run by the Judicial Nominating Commission. That commission is made up equally of Democrats and Republicans, lawyers and lay people. The members of the commission must review an exhaustive questionnaire, letters of recommendation from the community, and conduct interviews with the candidates. Only those lawyers deemed to be fully qualified to serve on the bench are then sent as recommendations to the governor for appointment. Even after appointment, a judge must face the voters and run for his position in the next general election. Citizens still get a say as to whether or not they believe any sitting judge is qualified to serve on the bench.
Judge Murphy went through this bipartisan nominating commission process twice, was found qualified both times, and was ultimately appointed his second time around. Prior to his appointment, as a private attorney, he was a board-certified specialist in the area of domestic relations. Even those attorneys who have had an adversarial relationship with him in the courtroom, and opposed him numerous times on many cases, have stated that he was a fair and honest lawyer, a fierce advocate for his clients, and a distinguished attorney. He ran unopposed in his election.
Governor Martinez and her so-called “special prosecutor” want the public to believe that Judge Murphy not only somehow bought his way through the Judicial Nominating Commission (twice), but then also bought his way onto the bench. Even though there is not one shred of evidence to back up these claims, they continue to believe that if they say it enough times, the public will believe it is true. There is an old lawyer adage that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. The public should be aware that a grand jury does not sit in judgment, but is presented only one side of a case – the prosecutor’s side. No evidence is given by the defense; in fact, a defendant’s attorney is not even allowed to be present to represent his client. It should be no surprise that they were able to indict Judge Murphy.
Having gotten their indictment, the current prosecuting cast has not been content to allow the legal system to play out in a court of law, in an open arena where evidence from both sides will be presented and heard, where the public can see and hear the evidence, or lack thereof. Rather they want to publicly arrest Judge Murphy, and try him through carefully placed press-releases. Judge Murphy has pled not guilty, hired an attorney, and is gearing up to fight these charges through a legitimate legal process. That is not enough for the Governor and Matt Chandler, who are abusing their power and have shown themselves to be unable to resist the temptation to throw their self-perceived political muscle around. They want the public to believe that Judge Murphy is a “flight risk” or worse, that he is a danger to himself and the public. These ludicrous accusations have thus far gone unchallenged in the press. We are demanding that fairness, reasonableness, and restraint be applied while this case moves forward.
The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County stands with Judge Murphy. We are confident that justice will prevail. We will continue to challenge the biased actions of Governor Martinez and Mr. Chandler. We will push back against their attempts to publicly humiliate Judge Murphy, their blatant and unfounded assaults on his character and on his reputation, and their willingness to intimidate and bankrupt him in furtherance of their ultimate goal: political control of the judiciary in this County.
These charges stem from hearsay accusations which were first made in 2007. We ask where was our esteemed former District Attorney Ms. Martinez then? According to the investigation, Judge Schultz claims she talked to practically every judge in the state. Yet, it’s only when Martinez moves to the Governor's office that she has acted. Furthermore, we must insist that the press present both sides to the community. Journalists must not be in the business of tainting the reputation of any judge simply because they were appointed by former Governor Richardson.
We also ask these questions: The prosecution is ecstatic that Judge James T. Martin has been temporarily removed from hearing criminal cases, yet Judge Martin is not the target of this investigation. Shouldn’t the same edict be made for Judge Lisa Schultz? She is the prosecution’s star witness but she is hearing criminal cases presented by the same body she is assisting. Shouldn’t she be removed from hearing criminal cases because of her bias? Can anyone honestly buy into the insinuation that every judge had to buy their appointments and that only Judge Schultz was somehow excused? She was appointed by the last governor as well.
We strongly caution the press and the public to apply due diligence and restraint in this case. We are certain that once all the facts are heard in a legitimate court of law, Judge Mike Murphy will be fully exonerated.
This is a guest blog by Christy French.
If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page. Publication of a guest blog does not necessarily mean that we agree or disagree with the points made.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
3/26: Open Government Training Available to All at UNM School of Law
From NM FOG:
Information is power. Get yours! Are you passionate about a political, social or economic issue? Are you a neighborhood organizer, non-profit volunteer, or maybe just a taxpayer who's 'mad as hell'? Whatever your cause, this one-day workshop will deliver the tools YOU need to become an informed and active participant in state and local policy-making.
The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, New Mexico Press Association and New Mexico Broadcasters Association will host the inaugural Open Government Academy in Room 2401 at the UNM Law School from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM on Saturday, March 26. Click for a schedule and more information. You can register here.
A $25 registration fee includes lunch. (A limited number of scholarships are still available. To apply for one, send a paragraph describing your reasons for wanting to attend, to: email@example.com.)
Topics will include:
- Using sunshine laws to access public records and meetings
- Citizen lobbying at the state and local level
- Using government libraries
- The future of open government: datasets
- Citizen journalism
- From the inside: how government can maximize public participation
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Stuart Heady Guest Blog: Stupefying Ray Aimed At Earth
The title of this post is a wisecrack that I think of whenever someone in public life says or does something so stupid that nothing else seems to really explain it. Doesn't it seem like there has been a lot of this lately?
What better explanation can there be for the rise of purely emotional folks who seem to have unplugged their brains? What explains the Tea Party and the anger that fuels it? People like Glenn Beck? Evidence abounds! Call the National Enquirer! We have a story!
When you think about it seriously, it is easier for those who simply respond to things emotionally to get worked up than it is to figure out how an intelligent, complex and persistent approach to the future can be agreed on. That is way hard. Most people who are engaged in efforts that will ultimately be taken for granted as forming the walls, the floor and ceiling of our 22nd century lives, are not nearly as likely to be heard from or to become sensations in the media.
But, are we in danger of turning into a society that is dominated and run by the yahoos that Jonathan Swift described centuries ago? What are the more deliberate and competent among us to do?
Given the present media environment, that is a deadly serious question.
Sound Bites and Databases
Now should be the time, after the legislative session is past and when the next election is the farthest away that it can be, to step back and think about why things are the way they are and what could be done to more effectively address this condition that we are in, looking ahead into the second decade of the 21st century and beyond.
I used to spend a lot of time thinking about how to deliver messages through direct mail or grassroots handouts of various kinds. After thinking about this situation for a long time, some thoughts and insight into this have begun to form.
It all boils down to sound bites and databases.
Broadcast media has set up a circumstance, combined with a huge population, in which what is valued the most is quick, on-your-feet immediate thinking, encapsulated in the sound bite. Everyone in communication, on way or another, finds themselves addressing this constraint.
Databases have a powerful, but much less obvious influence on our thinking. When we learn how to use databases, we master the art of thinking in categories in a mechanical way. Things have to be reduced to their simplest terms, actually a math equation, in order for their to be "power" in a database. It is a useuful way to think, as it disciplines a tendency to be satisfied with speculation and vagueness into a sharp focus.
These twin gods have banished the ability to think more deeply and to value long and persistent contemplationg about the larger picture.
We get trapped in the short term without a perspective. We cannot analyze our situation truly, but instead are driven to do better, to work harder to make what we already have been given as a given work. However, in the long run, say over a twenty-year period, one can observe that the advantage in a system that is based on sound bites and short-term thinking goes to the manipulators of emotional mobs. That is what we are seeing now.
As usual, seeing a problem is way easier than figuring out how to address it, especially if it is a condition of the landscape.
Looking at all the various communication methods for manipulation that the large-scale corporate special interests have instituted over the past 40 years or so, it is a pretty daunting picture. Tens of millions of dollars are spent every year on shaping every aspect of public information and education. Many of the best college graduates with majors in advertising, public relations, journalism or English are attracted into the world of corporate PR, where a good number of people are employed by the tens of millions a year that the right wing is being advantaged by.
This goes way beyond the question of framing, and way beyond the tried and true GOTV campaign strategy that has become crucial over the past thirty five years.
An even larger factor that constrains the way the environment treats political communication is that no one has time -- the suburban swing voter, least of all. Whatever information gets processed into votes has to be taken at a glance in passing most of the time by people on the run. Long meetings with very informative, fact-based, deliberative substance are mostly out of the question. That is why the short sound bite synopsis has become so dominant. That is why database-driven systems, with their tendency to reinforce as well as serve the short attention span, always provide the practical backstop.
There has to be a way out of this conundrum.
The place to start is with this computer screen and this keyboard. The potential of it has barely been tapped. A lot of the time it is seen in terms of the experience of the past, not in terms of needs that could be served and how innovation towards meeting those needs might be accomplished.
The difference is precisely in the way it is viewed. Our participation in the medium is presently limited in various ways. Especially in rural areas, the connectivity is sparse. A lot of people don't like sharing their thoughts with strangers, especially when there is a prospect for disagreement which can seem insulting. The logic of the medium represents a waste of time to quite a few people.
Yet, here it is -- the product of trillions of dollars and over a century and a half of innovation by people anywhere and everywhere. Moore's law (that computer chip capacity doubles every eighteen months) has yet to reach its limit and, as long as it has not, the internet will continue to increase in capacity over the coming years, offering new avenues and expanded options.
To actualize the potential for better deliberation at large and thus, a better chance that stupidity won't rule the future, thinking has to be taken to a new level, by each person with a computer who might be inspired to see value a future in this. Networking could become more of an active verb. All that is really required is the imagination and persistence of intellect to keep trying to figure it out.
A simple thing to contemplate, but perhaps a pretty tough challenge.
If the purpose is not really just to exhibit one's ego, but to find a way to reach others and create some sort of cooperation in an effort to use the medium as a basis for organizing, for furthering the reach of the work that we are all trying to engage in, then it begins to move forward incrementally. One could look at it as an undeveloped distributed think tank that awaits any engagement that might have any energy at all.
Selling anything, whether it be a book or a policy approach requiring voter approval, requires the same thing: The assumption that a skeptical but open buyer can be persuaded with the right approach.
If the skeptical buyer is the swing voter, the problem is to develop a dialogue that creates either a sale or an acceptable compromise. That is a process that requires more than a lot of thought and communication. This becomes a permanent effort and the definition of citizenship over a lifetime.
If a real dialogue about what is real can supercede the soundbite oversimplification and sensational manipulation that now dominate, then it could do a lot more than just win an election. It could revitalize the American political system and renew its capacity for addressing what really needs to be addressed in the 21st century, looking ahead to the 22nd.
This is a guest blog by Stuart Heady. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.
Friday, March 11, 2011
3/11: Catch Lorene Mills' Interview with Glenn Greenwald on Wikileaks and More
Highly recommended: This week's guest on “Report from Santa Fe” is award-winning columnist and civil rights activist, Glenn Greenwald -- one of my favorite online writers and reporters. His column on Salon.com blends legal analysis and investigative reporting about privacy and civil-rights issues often ignored by the mainstream media. Greenwald is a former constitutional and civil-rights attorney and is the author of <em>How Would a Patriot Act? and Great American Hypocrites. He is a frequent guest on television news shows and writes for the New York Times, the LA Times, and the American Conservative.
In this compelling interview with host Lorene Mills, Greenwald talks about WikiLeaks and the fate of Private Bradley Manning. They discuss famous whistleblowers such as Daniel Ellsberg, Karen Silkwood, Frank Serpico and Erin Brockovich, all of whom were motivated by “discovery of corrupt things and a belief that the people who are engaged in the corruption need to be exposed” which could then bring about much-needed reforms.
New media and new journalism are explored by Greenwald, especially in terms of the exciting developments in Egypt and the Middle East.
“A lot of times people get pessimistic about the prospects for political change, but the Middle East and the growing technology shows that even when it seems like it's very difficult, because the political forces are so great, citizens banding together in common cause can always find ways to bring about real political change,” Greenwald says.
Studiously non-partisan, Greenwald believes that, “because our politics are so dichotomized between Republicans and Democrats, or left versus right, and people have to choose which side they are on, they don’t end up actually assessing issues on an issue by issue basis. They know which side they are on and they automatically take the position that helps their side and hurts the other side.”
The problem with that, adds Greenwald, is that aside from the fact it leads to somewhat irrational political discourse, "It becomes more like a football game where you cheer for your favorite side and root against the other one as opposed to being a rational citizen engaged in the process of understanding and analyzing issues and seeing where you come down on a position, regardless of what impact it has.” Greenwald believes this divides people who actually have very common interests and, because of that, Greenwald strives to remain steadfastly independent in his analyses.
“The prime responsibility (of journalists) is to hold people in power accountable, whether they are Democrats or Republicans or liberal or conservative. People in power who don’t have accountability will abuse the power and act corruptly,” Greenwald said.
REPORT FROM SANTA FE will air this week on all three PBS stations across New Mexico:
- KNME-TV/Channel 5.1 - PBS Santa Fe/Albuquerque – Northern & Central New Mexico, Friday night, 10:30 PM (there is no Sunday repeat this week)
- KENW/Channel 3 – Portales – Eastern New Mexico, Saturday afternoon, 6:00 PM
- KRWG/Channel 22 - Las Cruces – Southern New Mexico, Sunday morning, 7:00 AM
- Albuquerque radio station KANW-FM, 89.1, at 9:30 AM on Monday
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Bullhorn Journal Exposes Inconvenient Truths on Paul Gessing, Rio Grande Foundation
All is not as it seems concerning Paul Gessing and his now rather infamous Rio Grande Foundation (RGF) -- the extreme right-wing "group" that constantly has its proposals featured in the Albuquerque Journal, as well as in other local media coverage. Whenever topics like the economy, state budget or taxes are discussed, Gessing or one of the other "spokespersons" connected in one way or another with the RGF have apparently become the go-to source for commentary on local media like public radio KUNM and KRQE News 13. Op-eds by Gessing and others in the RGF circle are often featured in the Journal -- many times without having the writers identified as RGF representatives. (See post on Clearly New Mexico.)
In other words, the outfit is given a lot of credibility and respect in our local political dialogue, whether or not it is deserving. The way in which much of the media has treated the RGF suggests the organization represents the views of a big chunk of our populace -- or at least a hefty membership list -- and that Gessing is a recognized national commentator on economic matters. Now it's been revealed that, in essence, the RGF may be nothing more than a shell organization created to publicize and push the kind of right-wing ideas that please its corporate donors, and that Gessing -- in some ways at least --may not really be who he pretends to be.
Gessing Caught Fudging?
Over at the Bullhorn Journal, Chris Dudley has been on a quest to find out who constitutes the "membership" of the RGF, and what credentials are held by its leader. He lays out a series of communications he's had with Paul Gessing, who serves as President of the RFG, which reveal that Gessing may have been less than honest about at least some of his experience.
For instance, Gessing has long claimed publicly that he has written "articles" for U.S. News and World Report, a national news magazine. Inconveniently, it now appears that the claim may be completely bogus. Dudley contacted the magazine to ask about Gessing's claim, and received this response:
“We have looked into this and we do not have any record of Paul J. Gessing writing any articles for us."
At this writing I have not heard from the Wall Street Journal’s or the Washington Post’s archivists regarding Gessing’s claims to have ‘written articles’ for those newspapers. But I have searched the archives and I suspect that, at best, Gessing has written Op-Ed pieces or Letters to the Editor, a far cry from ‘articles’.
In an open letter on his blog, Dudley had this to say about Paul J. Gessing:
Dear Media and my fellow New Mexicans, you have been astroturfed!
He has in effect used claims of having been published nationally to gain publishing credits locally; deceptive yet self-fulfilling.
I gave Gessing several opportunities to provide proof of authorship of something, anything, in the national outlets he claims. He replied, “I simply don’t have the time or desire to go into all of my files,” to find clips, or dates of publication or titles of articles or any proof whatever to avoid charges of deceptive practices by the Rio Grande Foundation and Paul J. Gessing.
RGF Membership and Funding
Dudley goes on to write about the conclusion he's reached about the makeup or "membership" of the RGF:
Gessing’s 990-EZ for the Rio Grande Foundation’s 501(c)(3) non-profit status (broken down in earlier posts) shows that they receive Zero, zip, nada dollars from membership dues. This despite the fact that they have an open call for dues paying members on their website. Here’s the screen grab for The 9 Club, one of the funding regimes for RGF (see blog post for image).
So how many people actually make up the organization (other than staff)?
Considering the weight Gessing and his ideas are given on New Mexico media outlets, one would expect that the Rio Grande Foundation had a large base of organized, local members. However, after repeatedly begging (in rather unrecoited fashion) for Gessing to publish the number of New Mexico members in the RGF, I am forced to say that only eight New Mexicans can be said to belong to the Rio Grande Foundation.
Eight members. Eight. Not 24 or even 16 members. But eight.
... In gross terms, Gessing’s organizational membership is .0004 percent of the population of New Mexico. Just think, you and seven pals can start a foundation and get on tv based on 3.98208064 × 10-6 community support.
Given all that, where does the RGF get its generous funding?
Astroturfing is when huge corporate interests start up local sounding fake ‘grass-roots’ organizations that use the massive amounts of money (Rio Grand Foundation spent almost a half million dollars last year) to sway public opinion in favor of corporate dominance of our public institutions. [emphasis added]
As best as I can figure the Rio Grande Foundation derives less than ten percent of it’s income from local sources (basically two donors), with the rest mostly coming from prominent right wing corporate and corporate backed non-profits and foundations like The Donor’s Capital Fund, Wal-Mart, and etc.
Dudley provides a list of RGF donors:
Of the roughly 250,000 RGF took in this year most was from out of state right-wing organizations. Here’s the list:
Donor’s Capital Fund, of Virginia, $122,500
State Policy Network, of Virginia, $30,000
Roe Foundation, of South Carolina, $15,000
Wal-Mart, of Arizona, $10,000
Atlas Foundation, of DC, $10,000
There were also two large New Mexico donors, both from Albuquerque;
Jeff Van Dyke, $12,000
Chris Baum, $5,540
So… if my math’s correct, that’s under nine percent of major donations from the state of New Mexico.
The other, roughly $53,300, monies that RGF took in are not delineated but let’s make a safe bet and guess that not much of that is from NM either (remember, no new membership dues were paid to RGF in 2009).
As Dudley says, that's classic astroturfing.
RGF Budget Recommendations
Dudley says he got interested in Gessing and the RGF after reading a letter submitted by the RGF to Susana Martinez, New Mexico's Republican governor-elect, proposing ways in which to close the $450 million budget hole in New Mexico. The proposed plan has gotten a lot of ink in the local media -- I guess because reporters are incredibly impressed with the eight people who comprise the RGF -- or something.
This despite the fact that most of the RGF proposals are, shall we say, not very consistent with common sense or political realities. These include stopping the payment of the prevailing wage on public works projects, dismantling the Rail Runner and all its feeder routes (I wonder why Gessing et al. don't suggest that our road and sewer systems should pay for themselves), abolishing state support for the film industry, cutting by half the number of higher education branches and more than doubling (!) college tuition.
How about the staff of the RGF?
What’s more interesting is the ’staff’ of RGF, a litany of rightwing ‘think tank’ economists from the coasts, a New Mexico Cardiologist, a website designer and ... wait for it ...
A New Mexican who, “has 25 years of progressively increasing experience in corporate communications, public affairs, and business development.” I don’t have any idea what that means either, but, if I get an answer I’ll let you know.
Calling All "Reporters"
Isn't it time that straight-up "reporters" probe a little more deeply into who and what the Rio Grande Foundation really is, what they are up to and why? Why is all this money flowing into our state to fund their activities and their support for allegedly "nonpartisan" vehicles like the New Mexico Watchdog blog and Capitol Report -- both of which employ the services of the same reporter? It's getting to be a regular syndicate here in terms of RGF-related mouthpieces and media outlets and yet I haven't seen one mainstream "news" outfit dig down and examine the group's makeup, the money that funds them or the fact that their "nonpartisan" messaging is sometimes anything but.
Dearth of Outlets to Challenge Right-Wing
With the New Mexico Independent gone except for one part-time blogger, it sure looks to me that most of the on-the-ground coverage out of the New Mexico Legislature will be coming from none other than RGF-related sources. Expect everything they put out to be supportive of right-wing ideology, legislation and lawmakers, not to mention our incoming Republican governor. Much of the news we'll be getting from Santa Fe during the session will be filtered through the right-wing prism of the Rio Grande Foundation -- and their corporate and right-wing extremist supporters.
Unfortunately, the situation in New Mexico is not an anomaly. Right-wing interests have long been building up and funding powerful think tanks and online vehicles nationwide to carry their messaging, as well as the notorious right-wing talk radio and Fox News echo chambers. They will be pumping out their attacks on Democratic positions and politicos nonstop as legislatures meet, the 2012 election nears and redistricting is set to take place in every state. They'll get lots of funding and supportive TV and radio ads from both named and unnamed moneyed interests of the kind that were unleashed with the shameful Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Count on the Rio Grande Foundation's efforts to be a big part of that.
Lack of Progressive Support
What messaging and news sources will be available to fight back on our side with the facts we need to get out there to counter the right-wing onslaught? Your guess is as good as mine. I don't see much that exists now or is on the horizon. If nothing changes, we'll be fighting the good fight with one hand (or is it both hands?) tied behind our backs.
One bright spot has been the formation of We Are New Mexico, which is reportedly planning to expand its activities, but we need way more resources directed at getting the progressive message out there as we deal with serious economic, environmental, educational, health care and equality challenges. Where are you, supporters of progressive and Democratic values?
Why aren't our supporters here in New Mexico and nationwide helping to build think tanks, groom spokespersons and candidates and support blogs and other kinds of news and opinion outlets that can challenge the ideology-fueled right-wing machinery? It sometimes seems like our side is still operating like it's 1999. It's no wonder we're losing so many battles in the public eye. If the voting public doesn't get the facts or hear any persuasive arguments supporting our positions, how will we ever generate the support we need to succeed?
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The New Mexico Independent Is No More
As you've probably heard by now, the online New Mexico Independent news site, which was launched in April of 2008, as of today . This is very bad news for New Mexico's citizens, as well as independent media coverage of government and politics. Of course it's also depressing news for NMI's fine editor and staff who are now out of a job in harsh economic times, as well as for me personally.
The word first came from the New Mexico Independent's editor, Gwyneth Doland, on Twitter this morning:
The New Mexico Independent as you know it is now closed. The site will remain live, possibly with a half-time blogger
I next heard from one of NMI's reporters, Matthew Reichbach, that "NMI is about to be officially out of business."
Why? Apparently the website's parent organization in Washington DC -- The American Independent News Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation -- has run out of money to fund more than a barebones operation with, at the most, one paid, part-time blogger/reporter on board. In addition, American Independent's sites in other states have reportedly been reduced to this same status in recent months, and the operation's national vehicle, the Washington Independent, is also having the bulk of its operations shut down.
The word is that fundraising for NMI locally, as well as for the parent organization, which is supported by a long list of individual and foundation donors, has been trending down significantly. As we all know, financial donations are down across the board in this serious economic downturn -- and you could say that NMI is just another casualty of the economic cataclysm that erupted at the end of the Bush administration. Almost all independent news organizations and blogs are feeling the pinch -- and it couldn't come at a worse time. Now, more than ever, our citizens are in dire need of top-notch reporting, commentary and analysis to counter the right-wing echo chamber and the increasingly corporate-controlled mainstream media.
Here in New Mexico, the situation seems especially dire. The Albuquerque Journal -- the so-called "paper of record" and the only truly statewide newspaper covering politics and government -- has apparently gone over to the dark side with obviously slanted and inadequate coverage of the 2010 election and beyond. Local TV news -- outside of public TV -- is all about murders and mayhem. Local "news" radio -- except for public radio -- is dominated by right-wing hate speech and shallow, baiting banter. It's getting harder and harder for anyone who's not a part of the right-wing juggernaut to get their message -- as well as the facts -- out to the general public.
Outside of Democracy for New Mexico, Clearly New Mexico and what we hope will be a renewed New Mexico FBIHOP, the local blogosphere network that once thrived has mostly been reduced to sites funded and/or directed in one way or another by right-wing interests -- whether they admit that orientation or not. Unlike Democratic or progressive entities and individuals, the GOP and its cronies are funding online sites and operations big time, often while hiding behind allegedly nonpartisan organizations like the Rio Grande Foundation. That's another reason why the loss of NMI will be felt so strongly.
While providing in-depth coverage on a myriad of issues both local and national, NMI specialized in filling a hole in local news about state government, especially in terms of the New Mexico Legislature and the operations of government entities like the Public Regulation Commission. In particular, its live blogging, video webcasting and on-the-ground coverage from the Roundhouse in Santa Fe during legislative sessions was ground breaking and incredibly illuminating in terms of exposing and explaining the nitty gritty of lawmaking in a way that ordinary citizens could understand it and get involved. Its extensive and live legislative coverage was unprecedented in the state, and pivotal in the never-ending battle for more transparency, accessibility and accountability in government.
With a new Republican governor and a legislature that will be battling incredibly complex challenges in terms of the budget, education, health care and so much more, NMI's contributions to factual reporting and reasoned analysis will be sorely missed. By me and so many others.
I know I speak for many when I extend my gratitude to the talented and dedicated folks who made NMI a must-read source of news and information during legislative sessions and election seasons, as well as all year round. Congratulations on a job well done during the two and a half years you served the citizenry of New Mexico. NMI, we hardly knew ye. You will be missed.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
The Fruit Does Not Fall Far From the Tree: Frank Maestas Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser
Click for photo album
This report is by Mary Ellen Broderick.
I attended a fundraiser last night for the Frank Maestas Memorial Scholarship that funds a New Mexico Highlands University scholarship for journalism students. Frank Maestas, the legendary New Mexico sports journalist who passed away in 2006, worked for the Albuquerque Journal until 1990, and was a graduate of Highlands University. During his 30-year career as a sports writer, Frank covered virtually all sports in New Mexico. He took great pride in writing and promoting New Mexico high school teams, the athletes and the coaches. Many of his articles brought pride and a sense of accomplishment to numerous New Mexico families. As his son Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas said, “His articles were the type Grandmas would hang on their refrigerators.”
Held at the Ladera Golf Course banquet room, the mood at benefit was very festive, with lots of storytelling about Frank and his adventures and accomplishments. Many of the attendees were athletes whom Frank had once written about, the most notable being Don Woods, running back for the San Diego Chargers in the early 1970s. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1974. Many friends, family and a few politicos were also in attendance. Frank's son Moe Maestas, as well as his sister, aunts and cousins, were all there to celebrate Frank's life and legacy.
The special guest was Steven Michael Quezada, comedian, actor and TV star. He plays Gomez in the hit show Breaking Bad, which is filmed in Albuquerque. He, too, praised Frank for what he did for the community, and then he broke into about 30 minutes of great standup comedy. It is so cool that Steven is a home boy -- helping to support young journalists and writers in the community. Quezada is known for giving back to the community in many ways, and he performs regularly at various benefits for good causes. If you ever see that he's performing somewhere, I highly recommend going to watch and laugh.
There was an active and fun raffle going throughout the evening, all kinds of baskets and dinner coupons, and of course sports memorabilia, being raffled off and offered in a silent auction.
The open mic segment really allowed me to learn more about Frank and appreciate his life. As one of the presenters said, “He was not bashful.” He hated to fly ... and would sit in the back of the plane because “he had never heard of a plane backing into a mountain.” Many folks shared sports-watching memories of him, including his habit of screaming at the TV. Frank's favorite teams were Notre Dame for college football, and the Yankees for baseball -- and he was very passionate about both of them. The 16th hole at Ladera golf course was named in his memory, and many people shared how they think of him there, and smile.
I want to thank Rep. Moe Maestas for inviting me to his late father’s scholarship event. I find it interesting to see how families evolve. Moe’s Uncle Roberto Maestas, who was a founder of El Centro de La Raza in Seattle and a leading advocate for social justice, passed away this past September. I picture Moe’s grandmother and grandfather bringing two courageous souls into the world, and instilling in them the value of giving back to the community. And then I see Rep. Moe Maestas continuing on with that tradition -- giving back to the community, trying to pass bills in the legislature that will make a real difference in people’s lives.
The fruit really does not fall far from the tree.
If you care to donate to this scholarship fund: NMHU Foundation Box 9000, Las Vegas, NM 87701; for Frank Maestas Scholarship Fund.
Monday, November 08, 2010
How Much DID the Albuquerque Journal Help Susana Martinez and What Should We Do About It?
There has been widespread grumbling about the Albuquerque Journal's political coverage leading up to the November 2nd election, as well as criticism about the process used to determine the paper's endorsements this year. The critiques have focused on problems like the paper's tendency to conflate news and opinion in its UpFront columns by Thomas J. Cole on the front page, its choice of headlines that sometimes had little to do with the content of the articles and its failure to clearly identify personnel affiliated with the right-wing Rio Grande Foundation when their writing is published in the paper's editorial section.
Other problems relate to the paper's prominent placement of articles favorable to Republican candidates, while burying articles with positive news about Democrats. Sometimes the problems center on what the paper doesn't cover, as much as what it does.
We've long known that the Journal's publishers lean hard right. However, this year that slant was apparent to many in the paper's news coverage -- especially regarding the race for governor -- as well as on the editorial pages where it belongs.
Tessier Probes Journal Bias
discusses a number of these problems in her recent hard-hitting piece entitled, "The Push for the Nation’s First Hispanic Female Governor" on the Albuquerque Journal Watch blog. Tessier, who worked for the Journal as a reporter, photographer, columnist, editor, editorial writer and editorial page editor from 1974 to 2005, as both a staff member (20 years) and freelancer, lays out how the Journal's coverage of the 2010 New Mexico governor race was often clearly biased towards Republican Susana Martinez, the eventual winner:
Before it outright endorsed her in an editorial, the Journal had already exhibited signs it was deliberately advocating for eventual winner Susana Martinez – through Thom Cole UpFront columns, other front-page stories and pro-GOP national wire stories. Support was conveyed also via the Journal’s debate reportage, its choice of headlines, and in pertinent information left out of stories.
Before Martinez had even won the GOP primary there were indications the Journal was going to oppose Denish, no matter who the GOP nominee would be.
The article then goes into some of the many ways in which the Journal coverage skewed towards support of Martinez. For instance:
Traditionally, the Journal covered candidate platforms like this. But it didn’t cover Denish’s announcement – a significant plan, considering the Legislature had predicted a shortfall of that amount just months before. The Santa Fe New Mexican covered Denish’s plan as soon as it was released. But on the day the Journal normally would have run it, the story in the Journal instead was “Weh Sues State Over Redacted Denish Files.” Those who read the story would learn that GOP candidate Allen Weh’s beef was with the Department of Finance and Administration over some public documents from Denish’s office, rather than an issue with Denish. But the implication was that Denish had done something fishy.
The Journal held off on running Denish’s platform until July, when it packaged it together with comments from Martinez.
The Denish platform rarely was mentioned after that. Even when the Sunday Journal ran its full-length profiles of the two history-making female candidates, the only reference to Denish’s plan was three lines in the in the bullet-point list that ran at the end of her profile under the label “Budget.”
More Example of Right-Wing Slant
Tessier also points out specific examples of the Journal's slanted coverage on the gubernatorial candidate debates, its headlines and story placement and a couple of Thomas J. Cole's biased UpFront columns.
Tessier's article also demonstrates how different the Journal's coverage of certain stories was compared to that of the New Mexico Independent and how the stories would have been handled in the Albuquerque Tribune, which ceased publication in February 2008:
Especially in these recent weeks, I was reminded of the absence of the Albuquerque Tribune, and was struck by how different the election looked when reading the New Mexico Independent. It was the Independent that first disclosed that Martinez received $20,000 from a Texas oil man who had crassly joked about rape. After the Independent’s disclosure – and calls from the Denish campaign for Martinez to return the money – Martinez donated the funds to a rape crisis center. This ran two days later on the Journal’s Elections page – not unusual for a “catch up” story. But its impact would have been different if the story had run on the front page – as it essentially did in the Independent (and as it likely would have run in the Albuquerque Tribune.)
Another factor Tessier examines is the Journal's front-page profile of Denish's husband, Herb, while neglecting to provide any coverage about Martinez's spouse. It also discusses the Journal's rehash of negative stories on Governor Bill Richardson in the weeks before the election that served to support Martinez's repetitive talking points that sought to portray Governor Richardson and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish as virtually the same person:
I would submit that the Journal buttressed that impression by running a number of stories critical of Richardson as the campaign neared its end.
... perhaps the electorate would have thrown out Denish even without the Journal’s encouragement. But in the absence of an unbiased “leading newspaper” in New Mexico, that’s something we’ll never know.
I strongly encourage you to read the Tessier's and pass it on to others who are concerned about the lack of a statewide source of genuine fair and balanced news -- not just the Fox News version that the Journal currently offers. While you're over there, be sure to check out previous posts that point out the Journal's shortfalls and biases, as well as some of its positive contributions by various reporters.
What Should We Do?
There's lots of discussion in political circles right now about the best way to protest the Journal's sharp and transparent shift to the right in both local and national news coverage. Many folks have already cancelled their subscriptions, others are discussing a possible organized effort to get people to unsubscribe and boycott Journal advertisers en masse and others, at the very least, believe we should be complaining loudly to the Journal every time its right-wing bias is detected in its news coverage, and demanding changes. What do you think?