Sunday, April 23, 2006

About this edition

Jim: We're doing this as a mini-roundtable. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; and Wally of The Daily Jot. Do not expect much in this edition. At three a.m., we're only now starting. The reason for the delay?

Dona: Helping Ruth. Which is not a "let's blame Ruth"! But it is to note that Ruth busts her ass each week on those reports. I had no idea how much work was involved, how much ended up on the cutting room floor, or even how much time was put into the writing involved, let alone the listening.

Rebecca: Let me jump in to explain that Ruth had worked and worked on her report.

Mike: With Tracey.

Rebecca: Yes, with her granddaughter Tracey and they had nothing but problems. They'd lost a portion of the report, they'd lose the whole thing. It became an all night affair for them. Nightmare, all night nightmare for them.

Jess: And the thing is that crap happens all the time at The Common Ills. I know when I post, it's a nightmare. We think we have nightmares here, but if you knew what went on there.

Elaine: I've been a floater in terms of Pacifica and may continue to be but I am rethinking that because I knew Ruth was working hard and the thing to do may be to grab a show she's covering to help out. I know she Mike and Cedric are covering WBAI's Law and Disorder and that allows her to not have to go as in depth on all the segments.

Cedric: Mike and I had already decided we'd grab different segments. So hopefully, that will let Ruth focus on other segments. That is her favorite show.

Mike: And I'm going to try to grab another show next week because Tracey told me about a broadcast I'll want to catch. That's a fingers crossed thing.

C.I.: And that's great but I don't think anyone realized how much work Ruth puts in.

Jim: Or how much work it is for you and Dallas.

C.I.: I just do the tags, Dallas does the links. And Kat's done the tags for one report. The hardest thing is when Ruth calls after she's e-mailed a report. When that happens, she's found a little more time, and this is really difficult for Ruth to figure out what to focus on, a little more energy and wants to note another program. So that means what was ready to post is now delayed and more work on tags for me and more on links for Dallas.

Dona: We'll note that Dallas is hearing this and can jump in at anytime but we doubt he will.

C.I.: And I want to be clear I'm not griping about Ruth. Her work is wonderful. Her dedication is wonderful. I'm noting that her report requires too much out of one person. There's someone I have asked, as a personal favor, to grab a Pacifica show. I then begged. Twice. And it never happened. I'm sick of that shit to be quite frank. I explained how much work it was for Ruth and how much work it was for Dallas and for me. I said it would mean an easier Saturday for me and I begged, twice, that a show be covered. It didn't happen. I'm not pleased. To put it mildly.

Ava: And that's all you want to say on that.

C.I.: Right. Because after the second time where it wasn't done, I feel I've been avoided. By the way, the asking -- I was told 'sure.' The begging, twice told 'sure.' I'm really not pleased and wondering if there is an excuse for it or not. I'm doubting there's an excuse since I've been avoided. If that is the case, I may have more to say on the subject, until then, as Ava noted, that's all I'm saying.

Cedric: I want to clear up something. C.I. was not griping about Betty Friday morning. That was an attempt to explain why I hadn't posted. We, and Kat, were being sounding boards for Betty. No one was sorry to do that, we were happy to do so. C.I. got a nasty e-mail that Jess forwarded from a racist visitor. I delete him without reading when he writes me. But it was just laughing at me, in racist language, because I'd only posted Tuesday and had missed Thursday.

C.I.: Thank you for bringing that up because I did want to be clear on that and I don't think I was. We were glad to listen and, me, I'll listen to anyone here that needs a sounding board.

Betty: Well, it does mean that there won't be evening entries at The Common Ills, let's be honest.

C.I.: I don't think that's true. What's true is that I hit the e-mails in the evenings. I can't do that to the level that I do, and the e-mails are out of control these days, and still have an evening entry. That's life. People will have to adjust. I'm also doing a column for the gina & krista round-robin and for Polly's Brew.

Mike: And living a life.

C.I.: Trying to. But listening to Betty, Elaine or Kat doesn't really prevent an entry. While I was listening to Betty on Thursday, I was working on the "And the war drags on" entry. I was going through the e-mails and deciding which ones should be included, which highlights from members. I had done all of that. When I got off the phone, all that was left was the commentary. I was wiped out from listening to the process Betty goes through for each chapter, but I imagine Betty's more wiped out than anyone. I'm glad to help anyone and know anyone would help me.

Ava: I want to talk about e-mails for a minute. Jess and I go through them Mondays through Friday for about two hours each day, each of us for two hours. We can't keep up. But with the public account, I'm really tired of people who want links. Are you giving a link? Then why are you asking for one. This is my pet peeve. It pisses me off. Everyone and their dog is asking for a link. There was this one guy that I e-mailed who was using a site that looked like a business. I asked him what his site was. C.I.'s not going to link to a refinance site or anything like that because a member might see it as, "This is a company I can trust!" I don't know what Jess read or C.I. read, but I kept track and there were 111 requests for links. There's a guy who also writes The Third Estate Sunday Review, the same e-mail it turns out. I mentioned the guy, because he's really getting on my nerves, to Ty and Ty said he trashes those.

Ty: I do. That guy, and I went to his site, offers no link to anyone in the community and sends out these mass e-mailings wanting links. He probably writes twice a week. If a reader wants a link, fine. But this nonsense of you're going to e-mail everyone with a site and try to get a link, I don't have the time for it.

C.I.: And we should note that Ty's taking a break from the e-mails starting Monday. He's off for at least one week. During which time, Ava, Jess and I will be attempting to help out here.

Dona: I do some of the e-mails, I read them, but Ty really has had the whole thing pushed off on him. And it can really get to you when you've got some teeny bopper screaming how dare you insult John Stamos or whatever. I know I've been curt in some e-mails that I've replied to where someone's made some racist or sexist comment and then thought, "I shouldn't have even bothered to reply."

Ty: But someone pours that crap on you, and you do end up replying. It's like, "Oh no, I'm not going to ignore this crap."

C.I.: I think everyone does that. Saturday mornings are the worst for me because I'm wading through the public account solo and the sixth or seventh person who wants to tell me how stupid I was for writing ___ and each of them are referring to something that I didn't write, something that's clearly noted as an excerpt with a link --

Jim: Like what?

C.I.: Margaret Kimberley's thing on Iran a few weeks back, her column, really angered right wingers who for some reason felt the need to write in and tell me how ignorant I was to say this or that about Iran. At that point, I'd never written one word about Iran. So when I was going through the public account and kept coming across that, I started replying along the lines of, "Who's the idiot? You can't read a post with, "And Keesha highlights Margaret Kimberley's ___" and see a link and an excerpt and not tell that I didn't write it.

Jim: And people argue in e-mails all the time, right?

C.I.: I don't care if they disagree. I don't care if they say I'm stupid for something I wrote. It's their opinion and they're entitled. Time permitting, I'll read it. I may even learn something from it. But I do try to hear where the person is coming from. But that's people who know what I've written. Telling me I wrote something that I didn't pisses me off. It always has.

Elaine: And that goes way back. Way back. That is the easiest way to piss off C.I. and always has been.

C.I.: I'm sure I'll immediately regret this [In fact, C.I. did and pulled the personal reason for not wanting to be distorted. This topic will be covered in C.I.'s column for the round-robin this coming Friday.] So I do not like to be told, this is what Elaine's getting at, that I said something I didn't say. I'm very aware of what I said and what I didn't say. I may not remember everything at that instant but I do know generally, if someone's screaming at me, whether I said it or not.

Jess: I'm wondering if the e-mailers noted what entry they were complaining about.

C.I.: They rarely do. With Kimberley's piece, it was "Iran!"

Jess: I'm thinking of an e-mail that came in on a NPR station in Marfa. I was looking at that and started a reply to the woman, I think it was a woman, and couldn't finish it because I had no idea what she was talking about. But then I told you and you said, "Oh, she's talking about an article The New York Times ran" and you give me the date. I'm amazed when you can track that but if people are commenting on something, they really should note what they're commenting on. It would be like me writing The Washington Post and saying, "You're story was so one sided and you failed to interview Leslie Cagan. In addition to that, the position you took was slanted." And never mentioning the name of the article, when it was published or anything. I mean the Marfa article was like at least a month old when that came in. It was one article and the woman didn't mention The New York Times. She just opened with something like, "You wrote about the Marfa NPR station and I would like to share a few things with you."

C.I.: On that. I'm tired of following up. It says on the profile, if you want to be quoted, note it. That woman has done a lot of work on an issue important to her. I have no idea if she wanted me to share it or not. She never said. I did reply to her. She wrote back. I have a life. The policy is noted to prevent this, "Do you want to be quoted" e-mail. I didn't quote her. If she's upset, and she may not be, I took it that she was just sharing, but if she is upset, the policy is clearly noted at the profile. It's not my job to say, "The e-mail address for this site is ___ and remember that if you want to be quoted . . ." Know about the site you're writing to.

Betty: If this was a sound file, people would hear a very tired tone in C.I.'s voice so let me say I'm accepting that it's not a problem to listen to me. I was wondering and I had called C.I. when I read the Friday entry to ask if I had caused a problem. C.I. said no and explained there was an e-mail but didn't go into it. But I honestly have felt, until right now, like I was causing a problem.

Cedric: If someone trashed you in an e-mail, C.I. wouldn't tell me. That's why you didn't get told about the one trashing me. I wouldn't have known about it but C.I. mentioned it to Jess who e-mailed me to ask if I wanted to see it and I did.

Wally: Well what I can do at The Daily Jot is note the Christmas Coup Players on WBAI, but I'm not sure that they're even on now. They didn't air this month. If they are still airing, I can note a joke or two from that and help ease the strain on Ruth.

C.I.: And thank you for that because that would be a help.

Jim: Another thing that's going to be done is we're going to cover Living Room next week. I've already told Ruth. Laura Flanders may still be on vacation and we may cover Living Room itself or along with Flanders. Or we may not cover Flanders. We love that show but Ruth really does need some help.

Ty: Right, community comes first. And we need to do more to note Pacifica. I know it's been noted elsewhere, but people are tired, our readers, community members, of hearing: "The New York Times reported . . ." or "NPR had a great . . ." I mean if you're criticizing them, cool. But to just give shout outs to them, why? I see this site as part of an alternative media and I think that means we note alternative media. We can hold the mainstream accountable and should but this fawning over it, it shouldn't exist in the alternative realm.

Rebecca: We all love Democracy Now! and I think all the sites do a pretty good job noting it and getting the word out. But when I was speaking to Ruth and asking her how I could help her, she said it would be a huge help if I would grab KPFA's Flashpoints. I really didn't know the show. I'm amazed at how much information is in each episode. Five days a week.

Mike: Or take Law and Disorder. I pick a tiny part of a segment. Cedric uses a segment as a jumping off point. But to write about what they pack into every hour would take me all week. I understand why it's Ruth's favorite, it's a great show. But it's a hard one to cover.

Kat: And Ruth's trying to provide so much. With Guns and Butter, I'm noting the guest and the topic. I can do that. I think everyone should be able to with the exceptions of the humor sites.
When I started covering it, I got some hate mails on it. Now the stuff that gets forwarded from Jess is just delight that it's being noted. The point there is that if someone's impressed with my half-ass coverage, it's because they love the show and are just glad to find someone else who does. I'm amazed at how little is noted. I listen to KPFA because I live in that area and I love the station. But I rarely read about it online or in print. I can stumble across "NPR did this" and "NPR did that" twenty times a week without trying. And it really is starting to annoy the hell out of me.

Ty: My guess is that what you're seeing is people using those QUOTE "established sources" END QUOTE, to be CounterSpin about it, because they're trying to piggy back on them. Why they want to, I have no idea? If you're indymedia, be indymedia. But, just to focus on websites, I know a lot of them don't seem to want to be indymedia. They want to be --

Cedric: "Playas" and gatekeepers. Take Rebecca's favorite, Robert Parry, okay? I think in the last six weeks, he's been on a Pacifica program six times. So if you respect Robert Parry's work, why aren't you following his appearances. But I've noticed that he doesn't get that much attention online, really. Let me explain that. Online, I see him as Sy Hersh. Hersh does an article in The New Yorker and it's everywhere over and over. Parry does four or five articles a week and it's maybe at one place. That can be turned back on me, I know. I think I've noted him once. I blog twice a week and I have a link to him. I'm usually writing more of an account of what I happened. I'm not a news site or a resource/review. But for sites that are that way, I'm really surprised at how little he's noted.

Wally: Well, it's also true that you'll link to an entry someone else has done and he'll be excerpted in that.

Cedric: That's true.

Dona: But I mean, and Rebecca raised the issue at her site, think about how few sites even link to Pacifica. Forget coverage of it or shout outs, just a link. And you'll find very few that do when you compare it to the links that NPR gets.

Rebecca: That's true and to pick up on Cedric's point, think about Democracy Now! -- I mean, C.I. was frustrated two weeks ago when dictating an entry and I could tell. C.I. was pointing out that if you're praising some ground breaking story in the corporate media, chances are that Democracy Now! and others have already been there. I just think there's a lack of awareness as to what's out there. And I would agree with Ty and Cedric that it also has to do with, "I'm going to be on the outside but watch me be accepted as inside by just noting these publications." Elaine had a great point about the guy driving the Force Wagon, where she noted maybe he shouldn't rest his call for force on a story that ran in The New York Times since that's the paper famous for Judith Miller, Michael Gordon and what's the other guy?

C.I.: William S. Broad.

Rebecca: Right. I mean, come on.

C.I.: I was frustrated. I don't remember what the story was that day, the one that was apparently being linked to all over the web, but the person I was dictating the entry to told me it was all over and I was thinking, "Hello, Democracy Now! reported on that a week ago." I don't get why we continue to see these institutions as "trusted" if we've truly leanred anything from being lied into war.

Kat and Elaine overlapping.

Elaine: You go.

Kat: Elaine and I were making the same point which is: "Pacifica didn't lie you into war." NPR did. Is that how we thank news outlets that did do their job? By ignoring them?

Elaine: Right. And let me add that if the war hadn't been a lie, the mainstream still wouldn't have done their job. Their job was to cover the issue, not just quote official sources, named and unnamed. They failed at their job. Not because of the way the war turned out, but because they did not encourage and advocate a real discussion. That's what reporting is supposed to do and they, the mainstream or corporate media, didn't do their job.

Kat: They imposed their own restrictions. Having seen that happen, and seeing the disastorous results that have come from that, you'd think they'd have learned something but the coverage of Iran has demonstrated that they haven't learned a thing. So why are people still citing them as though they were the voice of God?

Mike: Ma put together an entry quickly this morning. She was rushed and she grabbed The Boston Globe off the table because she hadn't planned on writing early.

Cedric: I phoned her when I was doing my thing and told her C.I. was holding the main post so that Kat and I could get something up and be mentioned. That was partly due to the racist e-mail laughing about how I hadn't posted, and offering his thoughts on why, which was mainly that he had scared me off of posting. I hadn't read his 'scare e-mail,' I just hadn't had time.C.I. wanted to note my latest as soon as it went up to show that guy that I didn't give a damn what he said.

Betty: Okay, now I really get why C.I. made the statement at The Common Ills. My apologies for misunderstanding.

Cedric: Right. So the thing was I called Trina and she put that together really quick.

Mike: Right. Ma, did it and was freaking out. I'm serious. She was like, "Help, I need something newsworthy" because she didn't want people to think she was slacking. So Dad and I are both listing off topics and, looking back, I think we just confused her. Too much talking all at once. So she grabs our paper off the kitchen table and finds a story. It was from The Boston Globe. Even rushed, Ma didn't write, "Praise be The Boston Globe." She noted a paragraph or two and used it for her own jumping off point of how she views the immigration issue. But you see, online, all the time, this heavy praise for stories in print, in a newspaper, that aren't that great and that aren't covering anything new if you've been following the alternative media.

Ty: It may be like race. There are people I know who don't see themselves as African-American or Black.

Betty: Or any other word for it. They won't hang out with anyone but White people. They won't listen to anything or watch anything that isn't popular in the White culture. It's like, "I'm not Black."

Ty: Yeah. And I think some people don't get that they are alternative media. I almost said indymedia. But there's a blogger who's been e-mailing this site pretty regularly and I told him that he had a great indymedia site. I meant it as a compliment. But he e-mailed back, and he was really offended, saying he wasn't "indymedia," he was "new media."

Betty: For some people in the minority, it's really hard for them to accept that they are. I think we can see the same thing with some in indy or alternative media. I know C.I. will call out The Times and I know that the thought or wish is to drop the coverage of the paper. Since we're on this and it's gone longer than planned, I'd like to address that.

C.I.: We cover The Times at The Common Ills. I'm tired of it. No thought was put into it. I thought I was doing a blog. That didn't pan out. But on a Friday, after intense suggestions from friends, I started the site with a little four or five line entry. The next morning, when it was time to do a real entry, it was a Saturday, I subscribe to the paper and I used it. It wasn't cheerleading.

Jim: It wasn't. In fact, by the next day, you'd be picking apart Dexter Filkins.

C.I.: Yeah. But I'd like to get away from it. I've tried to and suggested that but members want it. Not out of love for the paper but out of the fact that it can be held accountable, it can be called out. If there's a good article in it that day, I will try to note it. But we're not there to cheerlead the paper. And we're not giving high-fives to it to look "respectable" or "big time." Someone, and I don't remember who, it may have been Jim or Dona, early on e-mailed about how the coverage could be seen as an endorsement if that's all there was. That was a good point. Which is why we note every episode of Democracy Now! It's the anti-Times because it's reality. No heavy gauze covering the realities, no thick filters used for a look at Henry Kissinger or whomever. Martha notes The Washington Post and if it fits into an entry or can be forced in, I'll work it into a morning entry. That's her highlight, her contribution, one of them as a member. She also highlights independent sources. But we need more of that at The Common Ills. I know that. And as I say that, I'm also aware that, for me, there are too many highlights in the morning. I'm juggling e-mails, the paper, the phone or phones some mornings, and all I want to do is get out the door and get a workout in before I face the world. So I don't know what to say. I think I'm aware of many shortcomings all the more after doing this for over a year but short of a box of Time Helper that lets me increase the time in a day by adding water, I don't know what there is to do.

Elaine: I don't think that's fair. Take CounterPunch, just as one example. I wasn't aware of that magazine before The Common Ills and now I'm purchasing it and reading it. I think, if there was a survey -- and this isn't a suggestion -- you'd find that a lot of members would say, "I didn't know about ___ until I saw at the site and now ___ is a trusted voice or a trusted publication."

Ava: You have just invited a deluge of e-mails to The Common Ills.

Elaine: Didn't mean to. Write me. I'll note it at my site. But I think that is true. I mean, Sunny was saying the same thing when there was a highlight of Kim Gandy this week. She was telling me that she had no idea who the president of NOW was. But thanks to the highlights at The Common Ills, she knows her name and she knows the issues she cares about.

Wally: Or like me. I didn't know Danny Schechter before the site. Now I'll check out News Dissector. And that's just one example of someone I've learned about from the site.

Jess: It really is a resource/review. It grates on my nerves when a reporter e-mails C.I. and says, "Your blog." It really is a resource/review.

Jim: Want to share any names?

Jess: Are you trying to get C.I. to kill me? There's a reason you don't get to check those e-mails.

Dona: Do you reply to them?

Jess: The deal is, Ava and I can if we want to. If we do, we don't talk about it with C.I. That's the deal. C.I. feels like there are enough conflicts of interest without striking up some friendship online or strengthening an enemy-ship online. Most of the time, no. I have replied to every author, not journalist, author, that's written.

Ava: We do not respond, either of us, to officials. There are a number of right wing officials who write in to complain. That's usually dealt with, by C.I., by noting a "visitor" had e-mailed and after the entry goes up, Jess or I will respond by e-mailing that entry and noting that the question or issue is addressed in it. C.I.'s writing may not be popular with the neocons, but it's certainly read by them.

Dona: You know that it kills Jim not to know?

C.I.: And you know that I walked out on a roundtable because Jim had found out about one reporter and named him in a roundtable.

Jim: I didn't think that was a bad thing to do because he liked the site.

C.I.: Liking the site might not go over well with his employers.

Jim: Point taken. So this ended up being about a lot more than we had planned on. We thought it was a mini-roundtable but it ended up growing on us while we were doing it. Point? Support independent media. Talk it up. Get the word out on it.
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