Tag Archives: social media

Minds are made up

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I get this question on occasion. It’s fairly rare that someone asks, but given that I get the query, I’ll speak to it briefly here.

The question: Why don’t you engage people who disagree with statements you make on your blog?

I generally dislike engaging in a give-and-take because people’s minds are made up. As is my own mind. I am not going to change anyone else’s view of a public policy issue and, I dare say, neither will anyone likely change my own mind.

That’s the short answer. A more expansive response seems appropriate.

I write this blog as my final statement on an issue. For instance, I have published an endless stream of posts that assert that Donald J. Trump is fundamentally unfit for the office he occupies. I have sought to say why I believe that throughout this man’s foray into political life. My mind is made up. I will not be persuaded to change my mind that Trump is somehow actually fit for the presidency. What would be the point of going back and forth with someone who believes Trump is the next “great president”?

It’s pretty much true on most issues. I tend to make up my mind before I post something on High Plains Blogger.

This does not mean I do not welcome critical comments. I most certainly do welcome them. Whether you respond directly to the blog’s site on Word Press, or on Facebook, or any other social medium that distributes these posts, I say, simply: Bring it!

I am highly unlikely, though, to argue with those critics. I am too old to waste my time trying to persuade someone that their views are all wrong and that mine are all right.

I just know it all to be true. That’s good enough for me. It’s also good enough for my critics.

Media casualty list climbs

Social media in the Age of Donald Trump have claimed two more casualties … who happen to be members of my family.

I get that two such “injuries” don’t by themselves represent a trend, but I do believe they are indicative of the national mood that Trump has perpetuated since the day he rode down the escalator to declare his presidential candidacy.

These two fellows got into a beef over the Black Lives Matter movement and the behavior of police officers in relation to African-American citizens. One of them decided to “unfriend” the other from Facebook and vowed never to speak to him again. Not ever!

That outcome saddens me, as the two of them once were a lot closer.

This is the kind of thing that has erupted in families and other social circles nationally in this Trump Age.

Donald Trump promised to unify the nation. My goodness, he has done precisely the opposite. He has fomented division, increased the chasm between the political parties and his rhetoric has spawned the kind of anger — among family members, for criminy sakes! — that leads to severed relationships.

Social media haven’t helped, either. The various media have given us a shield behind which we can fire off angry messages, responses to messages, and responses to the responses. On it goes. It never ends.

I am acquainted with many individuals who become crazed ideologues when they sit behind a keyboard. For all I know, many of my friends think the same thing of me. If so, well … too bad.

Others, though, have actually become different people than I know them to be. One of my former friends cut our relationship off after he and another member of my family got into a snit about something; I cannot remember what it was. I took up for my family member. My friend became highly agitated with me — and we parted company. We haven’t spoken since.

These examples are what I am talking about.

Politics isn’t supposed to be a contact sport. At least that is what I long have thought and believed. At some level I still do. I choose not to engage good friends — actual friends — and family members in the nuts and bolts of policy disagreements. I try the best of my ability to let it all roll away.

It’s tough, especially in this Age of Donald Trump.

Thanks, Mr. President, for “unifying” us … my a**!

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.

What’s next, post-Trump?

By JOHN KANELIS

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Yes, I do think at times of matters that take my brain into outer space.

One of them has popped into my noggin and it has to do, not surprisingly, with Donald John Trump.

I have spent a lot of emotional energy on High Plains Blogger commenting on the foibles of Trump and the presidency he inherited. What will happen to this blog once Donald Trump exits the White House? You probably haven’t thought about it, as you have many other things to occupy your mind. Truth be told, so do I, but I still have time to ponder things such as this.

I am supremely confident that this blog will continue. For all I know it might even flourish.

The world is huge. We have this pandemic that is likely to stay with us well past Trump’s time as president, which I hope ends in January 2021. We have many existential threats facing us: climate change, race relations/civil unrest, war and peace, terror threats.

There also will be plenty of wreckage left behind by Donald Trump that the next president — and I want it badly to be Joe Biden — will have to clean off the deck.

You see, all of this will require my attention. I intend to attend to all of it in due course as we move past the Donald Trump Era of Political Malfeasance.

I also have other matters to ponder, the “life experience” stuff that occasionally gets my attention. I want to continue chronicling the joy of being parents to Toby the Puppy; we have this eternal retirement journey on which we have embarked and I will discuss that as well with you.

Donald Trump may think he’s bigger than the presidency. He isn’t. The office will recover once he is gone. Trump damn sure isn’t bigger than High Plains Blogger. It, too, will go on.

Moving farther away from the past

It pains me to say this, so it is with some anguish that I must report that my tie to the last full-time print journalism stop on my journey has been all but severed.

The Amarillo Globe-News no longer resembles the place I worked for nearly 18 years. I worked there longer than I did at any of the four newspapers where I practiced my beloved craft.

The building is vacant. What is left of the news reporting staff and the advertising department is holed up in an office suite down the street in a downtown bank tower.

Here is what really hurts: I look at the online edition and am amazed at how little actual Texas Panhandle news is being reported. I shouldn’t be surprised, given that the G-N now has precisely two general assignment reporters, or roughly about 2 percent of what it once employed. I have to subscribe to the paper to read the stories, so I all I see are the headlines.

What’s more, a real head-scratcher deals with all the Texas Tech and Lubbock-centric headlines I see on the home page. Tech and Lubbock? Yep. That’s what I see. I have looked at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal home page, too and I have discovered that the A-J offers none of the kind of Panhandle-centric news for its readers that I see in the other direction at the Globe-News.

This is my way of admitting that I am letting go of a big part of my professional and personal journey through life.

I enjoyed some modest success along the way. My career began in Oregon; it took me to Beaumont and then to Amarillo in Texas. Indeed, the Oregonian — where I worked briefly before gravitating to Oregon City, Ore. — bears no resemblance to what it once was. The newspaper in Oregon City is gone, pfftt! The Beaumont Enterprise has shrunk dramatically, too.

Looking at the last stop on my journey, though, is one that hurts the most.

The good news? I am a happy fellow today. That was then. The here and now is quite good.

A tragic metaphor

The picture attached to this blog post symbolizes something that is troubling to me on at least two levels: one of them is personal, the other speaks to a broader phenomenon.

It came to me today from a friend who is visiting Amarillo with her husband on a family matter. Hubby snapped the picture. I want to call your attention to the graffiti on the second floor of the structure.

The building used to house the Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked for nearly 18 years as editorial page editor. I left the business in late August 2012. The corporate ownership changed hands a few years later and then the new owners vacated the building. They moved what was left of the newspaper operation into an office suite in a downtown bank tower.

What you see here is the rotting hulk of what used to house a once-proud community institution.

The personal impact on me is obvious. I went to the Texas Panhandle in January 1995 full of pi** and vinegar and ready to slay some dragons in my new surroundings. The newspaper had a proud tradition. It won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service — which is journalism’s highest award. I was proud to be part of that legacy. We didn’t win any more Pulitzer prizes during my time there, but I developed a lot of close friendships with colleagues and managed to eke out a modestly successful tenure during my time there.

None of us got into the business of chronicling a community’s story to make lots of money. We did it because of our commitment to the craft we pursued.

I had a lot of fun there and managed to embark on many fascinating assignments during my time.

So when I see this picture, my heart breaks on a deeply personal level. The property is up for sale. It’s been on the block for quite some time. I do not know how you repurpose an office building that once served as a newspaper office; the building next to it on the same block once housed the paper’s presses and distribution complex. Good luck with peddling that structure, too.

The picture symbolizes what has become of print journalism in communities all across the nation. Once-vibrant community institutions are being relegated to empty shells. They become targets of graffiti “artists” intent on making some sort of statement about … whatever.

Newspaper staffs are slashed. The paper charges whoever is left to cover a community with virtually no one available to actually do the work of reporting on and then writing what they learn.

Those who once depended on newspapers are turning to other media. I cannot vouch for the veracity of what is being disseminated. Some of it is valid. Some of it, well, is just crap.

I am happy to report that I have moved on, as have so many of my former colleagues. I am in a much better place now. I hope they are, too. The remains of the Amarillo Globe-News? The future for the building and the medium it once housed — to my way of thinking — look decidedly less promising.

I am saddened beyond measure.

No tweets from Joe during RNC?

I am going to express a fond hope for the next week while Republicans nominate Donald Trump for another term as president of the United States.

It is that Democratic presidential nominee Joseph Biden will refrain from launching into Twitter tantrums as Trump keeps telling lies while the party nominates him.

Trump, of course, was busier than the dickens this week as Democrats conducted their virtual nominating conviction. Each tweet demonstrated Trump’s smallness, his pettiness, his petulance. I get that the individual has 80 million Twitter followers — give or take — and he’s mastered the medium as a way to make policy statements even when they surprise his own senior staff.

Biden is wired differently, or so it seems. He’s a good bit more thoughtful than Trump, which well could mean that he’ll be discreet and patient before making a public policy statement via Twitter.

That’s my hope, at least, while much of the nation watches the RNC do its job.

Master of Hideous Timing

Leave it to Donald J. “Master of Hideous Timing in Chief” Trump to demonstrate once again how low he can go even in a moment of national mourning over the death of a civil rights icon.

While Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama today were eulogizing the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis for the struggle he waged to obtain equal rights and justice for all Americans, Trump took to Twitter tell us how he intends to do all he can to suppress people’s right to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

The juxtaposition of those two things — the farewell to Rep. Lewis and Trump’s Twitter tirade — is unspeakable in its hideousness.

Trump’s tirade tells me all I need to know — as if I didn’t know it already — about the how callow, callous and crass the president can get, even as the nation says farewell to a hero of the civil rights movement.

John Lewis’s friends and family bid adieu to the champion, reminding us how he sought to create “good trouble” for the cause of freedom and liberty. He fought — quite literally, I should add — for the right of all Americans to have equal voting rights. Lewis paid for that struggle with his own blood, shed in that Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

Donald Trump once chided Lewis as being a man of “all talk and no action.” That such a ridiculous criticism would come from someone who avoided military service during the Vietnam War simply illustrates the president’s utter shamelessness.

And so Donald Trump was at it again today, blasting out Twitter messages seeking to denigrate the voting rights struggle led by a man who was being laid to rest in that very moment.

As they say, timing is everything, for better … or for worse.

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.

Social media get him again

Donald J. “Racist in Chief” Trump managed to step into a pile of dog doo yet again, tried to yank it out of the stinking pile, but it was too late … I venture to say.

Trump thought it would be clever to retweet a video of a supporter of his yelling “white power!”

Then he pulled it down. Deleted it as if it never happened.

As the saying goes, oops. I am not the first one to tell Trump this, but it happened. It’s out there. That makes social media as much of a curse as it is a blessing. You cannot unhonk the ol’ horn, Mr. POTUS.

Trump and his Trumpkin Corps say he didn’t see the video. He doesn’t know the guy. If it’s true that he didn’t see it, then how does it go out on his Twitter feed where it is seen by his millions of followers?

I ain’t buying it.