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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I care!

The following is a copy of a blog response from me in Olyblog. The originator of the blog asks the question "who cares about someone critiquing the content or actions of The Olympia (I've obviously paraphrased):

The same could be said about Olyblog.
If you see something you don't like in Olyblog:
1. Don't read it.
2. Address the blogger directly and take your chance that the blogger may engage in conversation in return, which, to my understanding is what blogging is all about.
I would prefer to direct my comments to the moderators, editors and such of the newspaper, but it seems that they can't take that direction. We've even had a moderator pull a "libel" threat out of an section of the anatomy to attempt to stifle the right to satire and sarcasm in Olyblog, all for the sake of attempting to quell any kind of criticism of the activities at said newspaper. For a newspaper that is quick to judge and criticize the job performance of others, they find every way to run and hide from someone that has enough knowledge and guts to analyze their performance. Of course, it's often forgotten, as this time, that on many occasions, I've applauded the newspaper and also defended their position and coverage.

I worked in newspapers from 1970 to 1983. I consulted rural newspapers from 1985 to 1989. I owned an agency from 1989 to 1999 that focused on print media. I've shared beverages with the very people I've disagreed with earlier in a day. They've stated their dislike of my position, I've returned favor. I've only experienced ONE newspaper that attempts to stop people from voicing their opinion and keeping the opinion of others from the public. The possiblity of corporate media ruining the very freedom that we've celebrated in this country for over 200 years is frightening.

Frankly, the apathy on this issue is more frightening than the activity.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Blog no evil, Read no evil

The lastest version of "banning" on The Olympian threads not only prevents the dirty, nasty banned club from posting, it also prevents them from reading the posts of others.

You know what happens. A blogger that is banned from The Olympian will open his own blog to comment on the comments of Olympian Online readers and others will read it. Therefore, you must prevent people from being able to have access to the online comments to comment about on their own blogs.

Wow...that was a mouthful!

Why not block the entire website so that people cannot comment on editorial content of The Olympian? Oh yeah...less readers, less revenue.

The comedy goes on.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The comedy of moderation

It's no secret that I was "banned" from using The Olympian's comment threads for using the word "ass" in reference to a reader that had been purposefully agitating an argument with me for weeks. Recently, due to a computer glitch, the block was lifted from my computer and I honestly posted with my name and used my email address. Hours later, blocked again.

Aaron Mason and the other moderators at The Olympian are making sure that no one as crass as I use the word "ass" or, as in the case of my alterego "Emma" (not really, but it is sure fun to poke at the rightees), no one is gonna make a "yo momma" joke in reference to another reader.

So...the fun begins.

If you look at the Letters to the Editor comments for Thursday, October 4th, you'll find an afternoon post by "Olsen" that just says something about "great comments - for more reference" and then has a link to "secretpenis". "Olsen" also posted a homepage link, as many do. Both links take you to a picture of a fully erect penis - my guess is a home photo, if you check the background. That's right folks, a picture of a fully erect penis in the archives of your family newspaper!

Now, lets examine this. No, not the penis, the moderation of the comments.

How did the moderators miss a posted link to "secretpenis"? Probably a little too busy worrying about the politics and fray between readers on the comments section is my guess. There is an old saying about paying too much attention to nickels and losing dollars. This is a perfect example.

I've commented before, here and in Olyblog, about the ridiculous attitude portrayed by the moderator(s) at The Olympian. Editing (like removing links to penis pictures) is one thing but getting into spitting matches with readers is just plain dumb. It serves no purpose. If someone violates the rules (ambiguous at best, mind you), just delete them and move along. If they continue to violate the rules, continue to delete. It's called editing. Don't get into the fray by making bold posts about "banned" or whatever other descriptive term. It's senseless and does nothing more than elevate the fuel for fires on both sides of the political argument. One side defends the banned poster, the other side takes joy in quieting the opposition. Who becomes the fool in the center? You guessed it - The Olympian.

There is a local blogger - Andy, a rather conservative chap - that will not allow opposition posts on his blog. Whereas I don't understand Andy wanting to talk at people, rather than with people, I guess I have more respect for his position than for someone that does such a crappy job of enforcement of rules that they composed.

Let the people speak, I say.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Now you see it, now you don't

While scanning The Olympian threads this morning, I realized that my lifetime ban appeared to be lifted, as there was no "banned by webmaster" located on the thread. So I posted a comment. Everything went through.

I posted another. Everything went through. And another. Same result.

I then posted a blog on Olyblog mentioning this new find. A few comments went back and forth.

During lunch, I stopped by home and the "banned by webmaster" was back. Must have been a glitch in the software, but I'm wondering, had I not been honest and posted my name and email address, what might have happened?

Would Aaron Mason (see earlier blog in September) have known to block my posts? I could have used a phoney email (one from yahoo or hotmail or something else) and the ever favorite "anonymous" moniker.

This brings up a funny and interesting story. An associate of mine, a former newspaper person, a social liberal/fiscal conservative, with a sarcastic streak, began posting a few months back as "Larry". Mason banned him! Larry called to ask Mason why and Mason began yammering about "people causing problems on the threads" and apologizing profusely (Larry controls a substantial newspaper advertising budget in Olympia). Larry was aware of what had happened with me and was acting on his own. Mason actually disclosed my first and last name to him in their conversation.

Whether I post on The Olympian threads or not is not a life and death situation. I find it comedic that any media would get involved in such a resentment issue to "ban" a commenter. I can understand deleting (which amounts to editing) but aside from that, anything else constitutes spitting in the face of freedom of speech (yes, yes, I know...The Olympian owns the website, but I'm speaking principles here....of course that might be the problem.

The real humor of the day was a couple of the people that opposed my way of thinking had to make an issue about the posts that did get through.

For me being so wrong, they are certainly afraid of what I have to say.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Case and a Half of Libel

I was told about 19 years ago, that new AA groups were formed from resentments. I found this to be an odd statement until I witnessed an activity at a business meeting of a group that I attended.

There were disputes over the business operation of this group and how it ran in accordance to the Traditions. The "trusted servants" of the group decided that rather than listen to the group conscious, they would close the facility. Normally this would leave many people without a place to go for meetings, but a gentleman had been running an alano club close by and within minutes the people had moved next door and a new group started.

I didn't know anything about my ability to create my own blog until my request was ignored to have some libelous comments removed from the docents log on Olyblog. My personal opinion is that my request was denied for purposes of running me off as I'm not one of the popular kids on Olyblog. There is a lot of lip service paid there about being an alternative to corporate media, but frankly it's hogwash, according to this journalist. In the past few weeks, it has become as self serving as any corporate media I've seen, masquerading as "community run" when it reality it seems that the docents are becoming lackies to the founder, according to my opinion of recent decisions and actions.

It seems that a certain whiner that has been webmaster for a local newspaper has taken a hightened interest in Olyblog. His profile shows several months of membership but I've only noticed his presence in the past few weeks of the three months I've been a member (WOW....he was on there off and on all day, yesterday....probably enjoying the fruits of his labor). This person took exception to my comment on a blog about his activities. For all you adults, the euphamism for this statement was "get his rocks off", i.e. "it appears he gets his rocks off using his authority". Rather than the euphamism, I used the words "sexual gratification", as I thought it was more tasteful. In either case, I suggesting that an adult reader is not taking this as I am claiming first person witness to said event (in other words, I didn't say I saw him get his rocks off using his authority), and thus, this would be sarcasm.

Almost a month later, along comes the Whining Webmaster, claiming a violation of libel laws. Before I go further, I need to share that when I was blogging under the Iron Fist of the Whining Webmaster, there were daily allowances of posts by fine commenters that suggested the gang rape of city officials, disparaging posts about the homeless and homosexuals in the community and one poster in particular seemed facinated by, as he called them, my "stones" (as well as other playground names for testicles). Of course these posts were allowed, but...I digress.

Initially, when advised by the founder and one docent, I said I would seek legal advise and get back with them. I was then pressured to edit the post, saying that there was a unanimous decision rendered for this (no track on the docents log at this point). I said, OK for the good of the Olyblog community.

Much later in the day, up comes the docent log with a complete copy of the Whining Webmaster's complaint, complete with accusations of me performing a "continual harassment of him for months". Needless to say, nothing is further from the truth and now the libel point shifts 180 degrees. Oh but wait.....when requesting the docents to edit the complaint and the content that smears me, I'm now told that "it doesn't effect Olyblog". So, if I understand this correctly, Olyblog can be the conduit for me libeling the Whiny Webmaster but the same media isn't responsible for carrying his libel of me. By the way, check the laws on libel. There is a big difference between sarcasm and false accusation.

So, I'm now faced with the decision to take legal action or ignore it and leave a lasting legacy in the Olyblog archives that I've been "harassing" someone for months. Neither choice is a fun one, as I've enjoyed some of the relationships that I've gained in a few months on Olyblog. I did offer mediation and direct contact with the Victimized Victor, but was refused on both requests.

I trust that those that know me and have spoken personally to me, know better. Those that want to know more, will ask (I've got a file of emails that I'd share with anyone). The rest will be content in falsehoods, half truths, inuendo and gossip. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. I'm working on the wisdom part, deciding what I can and can't change.

One thing I can change is me. Thus, Thurstonblog. Everything has to have a beginning and this one is now. I'll try to mix this up a bit. After 20 years around media, that is one of my writing passions. Music is another. I work in community service, thus one more passion. Did I mention golf? I can probably write better that I golf, so maybe that will be the therapy for my game.

Please comment freely. If I don't like your comment, I'll probably just respond in kind. I want to avoid deletion and editing, so please don't put me in a position to have to do such. My wife's legal background won't allow me to get sued.

Oh more thing. I love Olympia, but I live in Thurston County. I'll be reaching for more coverage of issues and politics that take place outside Olympia. I'm sure I'll have no complaints there.