Tag Archives: media

Sick of the anger

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald John Trump is an angry man.

He is too angry. He is too riven with insecurity. His narcissism is beyond belief and redemption.

I want to speak briefly today about the anger. I am sick of watching him rail against “fake news” that is nothing of the sort. I have had my fill of him contending that the media are against him because, well, they just are. I long ago lost tolerance for his anger-laced epithets against his presidential predecessors, chiefly his immediate predecessor, Barack H. Obama.

I didn’t watch the final debate Thursday night he had with Joe Biden. I didn’t need to watch it to help me decide who to support in this year’s election. I was without TV reception, so I’ll catch it later.

I keep reading that Trump was on his better behavior, that he didn’t interrupt Biden or the debate moderator as he did in that first sh** show.

Imagine getting four more years of Trump’s anger emanating from the White House. I cannot go there. I will not go there. I cannot stand the thought of him being re-elected to a second term.

Joe Biden is not pretending to be Mr. Happy Joy-Joy. He is a serious public official. He also is devoid of the anger that Donald Trump demonstrates every single day.

I want my president to speak to me seriously, but without rancor.

Time of My Life, Part 51: A new beginning

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I understand that Scripture tells us about new doors opening when one slams shut.

It happened to me in 2012. A career in print journalism came to a screeching halt in August of that year. I was adrift for just a little while.

Then a friend from Panhandle PBS got in touch with me. Linda Pitner was general manager of the public TV station — affiliated with Amarillo College — at the time. She wanted to know if I would like to write a blog for the stations’ web site.

Would I? Of course I would! With that, a career that came to an end got restarted in an entirely new form at Panhandle PBS. I was doing things for public TV that my former employer at the Amarillo Globe-News didn’t think I could do. I had joined the world of online journalism.

I have to say that I had a serious blast writing that blog and doing the kind of video blogs — such as the one I attached to this brief post. The gig didn’t last an overly long time. Panhandle PBS brought in a new GM eventually and he decided that my services no longer fit the direction he wanted to take the station.

We parted company. That didn’t end my blogging time.

A local CBS affiliate GM asked me the same thing Pitner did: Would I like to write for KFDA-NewsChannel 10? Of course I would, I told Brent McClure. So, he hired me as a freelancer to write features for the website. I would write them and then the on-air news anchors would introduce the features in a brief segment during the evening newscasts. They would assemble video presentations to complement the text I had submitted to the website.

That, too, was a seriously good time for this longtime print guy. The KFDA gig, though, came to an end when budget constraints kicked in. No worries for me.

My wife and I gravitated from Amarillo to the Metroplex in 2018. The fun continues.

Another friend of mine — who is news director at KETR-FM public radio — gave me a shout. Mark Haslett and I worked together at the Globe-News for a time; prior to that he was an executive at High Plains Public Radio in Amarillo, so we knew each other pretty well.

Haslett asked if I would — you guessed it — write a blog for KETR, which is affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. Why, yes! I would! So I have been writing a blog for KETR and once again am having the time of my life.

That’s not the end of it. When we settled in Princeton, just east of McKinney and just a bit northeast of our granddaughter in Allen, I put a feeler out to the publisher of the Princeton Herald. Did they need a freelance reporter? The publisher, Sonia Duggan, said “yes.” So … she and I agreed that I could write for the Farmersville Times, which is another weekly newspaper in a group of weeklies Duggan owns with her husband, Chad Engbrock.

Therefore, I have come full circle. I am now covering city council and school board meetings for a weekly newspaper, along with banging out the occasional feature article.

It’s where and how it all began for this old man.

And I am still having the time of my life.

Growing city needs strong newspaper

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I was speaking the other day to a member of my family; we were talking about two issues simultaneously: the growth and maturation of Amarillo, Texas, and the long, slow and agonizing demise of the newspaper that formerly served the community.

It occurred to me later that both trends work at cross purposes. I find myself asking: How does a community grow and prosper without a newspaper telling its story?

That is what is happening in Amarillo, I told my family member.

The city’s downtown district is changing weekly. New businesses open. The city is revamping and restoring long dilapidated structures. Amarillo has a successful minor-league baseball franchise playing ball in a shiny new stadium in the heart of its downtown district.

The city’s medical complex is growing, adding hundreds of jobs annually. Pantex, the massive nuclear weapons storage plant, continues its work. Bell/Textron’s aircraft assembly plant continues to turn out V-22 Ospreys and other rotary-wing aircraft. Streets and highways are under repair and improvement.

Amarillo is coming of age. Its population has exceeded 200,000 residents.

What, though, is happening to the media that tell the story of the community? I can speak only of the newspaper, the Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked for nearly 18 years before walking away during a corporate reorganization of the newspaper. The company that owned the G-N for more than 40 years sold its group of papers … and then got out of the newspaper publishing business. It gave up the fight in a changing media market.

The newspaper’s health has deteriorated dramatically in the years since then. Two general assignment reporters cover the community. That’s it. Two! The paper has zero photographers and a single sports writer.

The paper is printed in Lubbock. It has a regional executive editor who splits her time between Amarillo and Lubbock and a regional director of commentary who does the same thing.

There exists, therefore, a serious dichotomy in play in a growing and increasingly vibrant community. I see the contradiction in the absence of a growing and vibrant newspaper that tells the whole story about what is happening in the community it is supposed to cover.

Spare me the “it’s happening everywhere” canard. I get that. I have seen it. None of that makes it any easier to witness it happening in a community I grew to love while I worked there. I built a home there and sought to offer critical analysis of the community from my perch as editor of the Globe-News editorial page.

I do not see that happening these days.

Meanwhile, Amarillo continues to grow and prosper. If only it had a newspaper on hand to tell its story to the rest of the world.

‘Fake news’ from its originator

I continue to be astonished that Donald J. “Fake News Purveyor in Chief” Trump continues to hurl epithets at the media in that petulant fashion he has adopted.

He calls the media “fake news.” My ever-lovin’ goodness, the man has no shame, no self-awareness.

He did so again today during that campaign riff disguised as a “news conference” in Bedminster, N.J. He said the media don’t report the progress he supposedly is making against the pandemic, calling them “fake news.”

I feel the need to call Trump out because he, alone, is responsible for more than 20,000 reported instances of misleading statements and outright lies since becoming president, according to the Washington Post. He lies and lies some more. His “base” gives him a pass because, in their twisted view, he is “telling it like it is.”

The most egregious act of fake news, of course, came when Trump kept alive the lie that Barack Obama was born in Africa and wasn’t qualified to run for president. It was a blatantly racist attack on the first African-American ever elected president. He followed that up by questioning President Obama’s academic credentials at Harvard University.

Trump’s familiarity with fake news is well-known to everyone on Earth … except him. A certifiably pathological liar is prone to say things without any realization that he’s lying. That’s what Trump does. He blurts statements out. He gets fact-checked and he is told that what he says is untrue. He doesn’t care.

He recently told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that Democratic nominee-in-waiting Joe Biden wants to “defund the police,” which Wallace challenged on the spot. Trump ignored what Wallace said.

Fake news, anyone? Anyone?

The upshot of all this, maddeningly, is that those who continue to endorse Trump also continue to buy into his claptrap nonsense about “fake news.” They applaud the president for his declaration that the media are the “enemy of the people.” They, too, see the media as peddlers of “fake news.”

I never thought such idiocy would be contagious. Silly me. I was wrong.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump keeps peddling his own version of fake news. The difference between what he seeks to pawn off on us and what he accuses the media of peddling is that Trump is dealing in the real thing.

Donald Trump is a liar.

Pence is wrong; media telling the truth

REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi

Donald Trump’s top-tier toadie, the vice president, has decided that the media are to blame for sowing seeds of panic among Americans concerned about the coronavirus pandemic.

Mike Pence has been wrong about a lot of things. This one ranks near the top.

Vice President Pence spoke this week in defense of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic that has killed 138,000 Americans and infected more than 1 million of us. He then offered a critique of the media, declaring that the media have hit the panic button.

Pence keeps referring to the “whole of government response” that he says has been a success. It has not!

A nation with 4 percent of the world’s population has more than 25 percent of the world’s deaths from the pandemic. That’s how you define success, Mr. VPOTUS?

Donald Trump has failed to lead the nation. He is challenging the expertise of actual medical experts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for school reopening have been pushed to the back of the shelf as Trump insists that schools reopen this fall with classrooms full of children and teachers.

Do I need to remind everyone that Trump said at the beginning of the outbreak that it would disappear … just like that? It hasn’t.

Meanwhile, the media are doing what they are empowered by the U.S. Constitution to do. They are seeking to hold government accountable, which is part of the media’s mission. Every president — until Donald Trump — has understood the media’s role and they have accepted their role as part of the job they inherited.

To that end, Mike Pence is far from alone in criticizing the media’s coverage of the pandemic. He is part of the Trumpster Corps of loyalists that has endorsed Trump’s idiocy that the media are “the enemy of the people.” Therefore, when the media deliver bad or “negative” news, the Trumpsters call it “fake,” when in fact the news is as real as it gets.

This media criticism, which is unfounded, cuts me to the quick. I loved pursuing my journalism craft for more than three decades. It hurts to see newspapers floundering as they are these days. However, there still is some great journalism being practiced. The media are doing their job. They are telling us the hard truth about a disease that is killing and sickening too many Americans.

A big part of that truth the media are telling is that Donald Trump is failing this supreme test of presidential leadership.

Time of My Life, Part 49: Those were the days

Social media occasionally allow us a look into the past, giving us a chance to reminisce on how it used to be and even think wistfully about what we are missing.

So it happened today when a friend and former colleague posted a faux newspaper page saluting his departure from his job and the start of a new adventure. My friend left the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise in the late 1980s and the posting of the page on Facebook has elicited a lot of comment from our colleagues and friends about this fellow and about the special feelings we all felt toward each other.

It reminds me of a series of special relationships I was able to cultivate during my career in print journalism. My journalism journey took me to four newspapers: two in Oregon and two in Texas. The first job was at the Oregon Journal, the now-defunct evening paper in Portland. My second job took me to the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier. Job No. 3 transported me to Beaumont. The fourth post was in Amarillo, Texas.

Throughout much of that journey, I was able to make lasting friendships that have survived the tumult, turmoil and occasionally the tempest of an industry that has undergone — and is undergoing — so much change.

I cherish those friendships perhaps more than I have expressed to those with whom I have worked, played, laughed and occasionally cried.

I mentioned to the friend who displayed the “fake” page the special camaraderie we enjoyed in Beaumont. It truly was a remarkable, talented group of professionals. Moreover, many of them had huge hearts that they opened up to me, who was then brand new to Texas and who had much to learn about the state and the community I would serve as editorial page editor of the newspaper. Moreover, I had left my family in Oregon when I took the job; they would join me later that year and we’ve never looked back. Many of my colleagues knew I was lonesome for my wife and young sons and they took me in, invited me to social gatherings and brought me into their fold.

That all made my transition to Texas that much easier.

Then again, the relationships I developed in Oregon City, Beaumont and Amarillo aren’t unique in an industry that used to comprise individuals from disparate backgrounds. They came together to work for an organization, seeking to do the best job they could do, to keep faith with the readers they served.

The newspaper industry, as we know, has been torn asunder in recent times. The Enterprise-Courier is gone; the Beaumont Enterprise staff has been decimated, as has the staff at the Amarillo Globe-News. We’ve all moved on, some to retirement, some to pursue — as the saying goes — “other interests.”

The Facebook post reminded me of how it used to be. I shall cling tightly to those memories. Those truly were the good ol’ days.

Journalism takes another step toward irrelevance

It pains me to acknowledge this, but based on what I have just learned, daily print journalism — I am talking about newspapers — has taken another big step toward a dark hole of irrelevance.

The Providence Journal, Rhode Island’s largest newspaper, has announced it no longer will publish editorials. You know, those are the opinion pieces that represent the newspaper’s view on issues of the day.

Here is part of a letter that Journal executive editor Alan Rosenberg wrote to readers:

It’s a decision that we don’t make lightly. But it’s been coming for a long time…

[After the partisan newspapers of the 19th century,] most newspapers abandoned partisanship in their news pages, but kept the idea that they should speak out, in their editorials, on what they perceived as the best interests of their community and country.

But in doing so, they inadvertently undermined readers’ perception of a newspaper’s core mission: to report the news fairly. Our goal in news stories is always to learn, and reflect, the facts of a situation, then report them without bias. Reporters’ opinions, if they have them, have no place in our stories.

But when the newspaper itself expresses opinions on those same subjects, it causes understandable confusion. Readers wonder: Can reporters really do their work without trying to reflect the views expressed in their employers’ name? Can they cast a skeptical eye on a politician their paper has endorsed, or a generous eye on one it has opposed?

The answer is a definite “yes” — but my email since I became executive editor shows that many just don’t buy it.

The Providence Journal is owned by Gannett Corp. What we have here is a display in gutlessness. It is a shameful capitulation to the forces that are slowly but inexorably making daily newspapers irrelevant in the lives of thinking Americans.

I spent the vast bulk of my 36 years in journalism writing editorials and editing opinion pages. We once were committed to providing leadership to communities that used to look for some semblance of guidance from their newspapers. Sure, we had that argument with readers that Rosenberg mentioned about whether news coverage was influenced by newspapers’ editorial policy.

This news out of Providence, R.I., saddens me terribly. It well might get even worse for readers of the last newspaper where I worked on my professional journey, the Amarillo Globe-News. Gannett owns the Globe-News and Gannett has become a cost-cutting master in this era of declining subscribership and advertising.

I hate saying it … but I fear the end of daily journalism in Amarillo, Texas, might be at hand.

Kitchen is getting too hot for Trump

It’s a cliché, but it’s worth noting: If you can’t stand the heat, then get the hell out of the kitchen.

Donald John “Wartime President” Trump says he’s being treated worse by the media than any president in history. That includes Abraham Lincoln, a real wartime president who fought like the dickens to preserve the Union.

He succeeded. The fight cost him his life when a gunman killed him at Ford Theater in Washington, D.C.

Now, though, for Donald Trump to suggest the media treat him worse than what the press did to President Lincoln simply is beyond the pale.

Trump doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand the media’s role in protecting us against government that is capable at times of reaching too far and, yes, of making egregious mistakes.

Do you think Trump has made any such mistakes during his three years as president? I most assuredly believe that’s the case.

Trump spoke at a Fox News town hall. A woman asked him why he doesn’t answer reporters’ direct questions on the coronavirus pandemic. According to The Hill: “I am greeted with a hostile press, the likes of which no president has ever seen,” Trump said, sitting in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. “The closest would be that gentleman right up there. They said Lincoln, nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse.” 

Cry me a bleeping river, Mr. President.

The media are doing what the Constitution allows them to do. No amount of bullying, intimidation, coercion or threats from the president or his lackeys should throw them off their mission.

Every presidential predecessor — all of whom had to endure negative coverage — has understood that it all goes with the job to which they were elected.

Until this clown.

Media deserve praise and credit, not criticism and condemnation

Earth to Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump: The media do not deserve the constant vilification heaped upon them during your so-called marathon “briefings” in the White House press room.

Trump did it again this past week, telling reporters assembled to hear him talk ostensibly about the administration’s coronavirus pandemic response that the media have ignored certain elements of the virus spread.

Specifically, he said the media haven’t reported on China’s misleading infection and death rates. Really? Is this individual serious?

The media have reported constantly on the misrepresentation being disseminated by China and for Trump to use that as an example of what he calls “fake news” is in itself, well, fake news.

Every single president who came before this one has suffered through “issues” with the media. However, they all understood — and he living former presidents still understand — the importance of a “free press” to the vitality of our political system.

The media work to keep government accountable. If they ask tough questions, then that just goes with the job of public service. Our elected leaders sign on to serve the public’s interests. If they fall short it falls on the media to report when and where those moments occur.

Donald Trump doesn’t see it that way. He wants the media to serve his interests exclusively. He demonstrates daily his ignorance of the media’s role and the importance the nation’s founders gave to it by guaranteeing that a “free press” shall not inhibited by government mandate or edict.

Still, the president’s penchant for lying to the public cannot go unchallenged. The media see their role as reporting that, too … as they most certainly should do.

Time of My Life, Part 48: Still able to keep up with fast-paced story

I have returned to the game of print journalism, even if it isn’t daily print journalism.

Still, writing for a weekly newspaper presents a whole new set of challenges … such as trying to keep pace with a story that is changing damn near hourly.

Forgive the boast, but I am happy to report that I still am able to remain nimble enough to hit a fast-moving target.

The target is the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. They’ve declared it a worldwide pandemic. It is killing thousands of people daily.

How does that affect my freelance gig? The Farmersville Times covers a lovely community in Collin County, Texas, about seven miles east of where my wife and I live in Princeton; I write for the Times. I have spent the past few days keeping pace with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Farmersville.

I was assigned a story to write for the Times that looked at how the community’s first responders — namely firefighters and police officers — are coping with the pandemic. My initial story said there had been no reported infection in Farmersville.

Then it changed. Rapidly.

The publisher, my boss, notified me that Collin County Public Health officials reported several cases in Farmersville. I had to make contact with the police and fire chiefs for updated information. I was able to do so quickly. They provided the information I was seeking.

However, the story likely continues to move even as I write this brief blog post.

Indeed, I have no idea how many — if there are any to report — new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Farmersville just since I filed my amended version of the original story.

By all means, we are experiencing a crisis that tests us all. I just have to stay nimble.