Monday, November 21, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

I'm not going to say it. Not going to say the C-word. I'm not going to say the shortened version starting with an X either. But even if I don't say it, it's all around us. Store windows are decked, radio stations are jingling certain songs, and trees are flocking to empty lots near you.

There are many reasons this transformation happens before the turkeys are carved or even bought. Some say the spirit of the season is so wonderful it should be stretched as long as possible. Some say the stores cash in on the shopping craze as long as possible.

Last week, I reported on how the Black Friday mania is already creeping into consumer consciousness. Shoppers are already thinking about their line-fighting, coupon-cashing splurge session. Part of the reason is stores are creating their own buzz by starting Black Friday earlier than ever before.

I'll be working late Thanksgiving night and early Black Friday morning. I've never done the Black Friday thing. I don't even like shopping on a normal day, let alone a steroided version of it. But who knows, since I'll be up anyway, I may grab a gift or two.

As for the early holiday hubbub: It's completly up to you to celebrate whenever you want, however you want. In fact, my apartment is already decorated.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Top Honors can be the Pits

Being number one is the best. If you can't be number one, you want to be number two. If you can't be number two, then three. And so on.

Recently, Medford placed fifth in a nationwide ranking of cities. Fifth overall. That's pretty great.

But it all comes crashing back to Earth when I reveal what the list was. The brokest cities in the country.

Based on unemployment, median income, and average personal debt-- Medford is the fifth brokest city in the United States.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Football is a Game.

Look, football is a game.

Paterno is out because football is just a game. He's the Godfather of everything Happy Valley. But only because of football.

And, football is a game.

Saturday's Penn State-Nebraska will represent more than just a matchup. For the team, it represents perseverance, unity, progression.

But, football is a game.

It's a diversion. It's entertainment. It's a distraction.

Just because something appalling happened involving some people who happen to be involved with football, it doesn't have to sour every other version.

Football is still football. It's a game.

Last week, I shot one of the most exciting games I'd ever seen in person. A play-in, loser-goes-home, double overtime thriller.

I'm not trying to lessen the significance, breadth, depth of what went on, is going on, and will go on at Penn State.

But let's enjoy what isn't rotten.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meta-Penn State

I'm a fan of thinking about things. More than reacting, I love watching reactions. Looking at how others look at it. I love debating debates, discussing discussions.

Going meta-, if you will.

What's happened (and is still happening) in Penn State is engrossing. As a member of a culture and society, you can't not be interested in it. Wednesday night, ESPN had wall-to-wall, commercial-less coverage from 7:00pm PST until 9:45pm PST. You're crazy if you think I changed the channel once.

Today, it's the fallout. Columns, articles, podcasts, TV opinions. Condemning the Board, Joe, students, the media, McQueary, "the institution," and Sandusky. Everyone's pointing fingers. Everyone's assigning blame.

That's not necessarily unjustified.

Who knows how many children were ruined. Someone should pay. Dearly. That's the mentality.

Not necessarily unjustified.

I don't want to read everything there is to read. I want to read rational thoughts. I want to know what people think, not feel. I want to go a layer beyond: I want to know what people think about what they think.

One of my favorite columns Thursday is called "Scampering around the word Rape." Why do we place a veil around something that should be uncovered and dealt with?

My other is an independent review of ESPN's coverage of the scandal, starting nearly five days ago when news broke. Simply titled, "ESPN stumbles with Penn State coverage," it starts by directly saying ESPN was slow to grasp the full implications of the criminal indictments.

Wednesday, watching the action was fascinating, mesmerizing.
Today, that's how I feel about watching the counteraction.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fired Up over Firing

I can't add much more to the dialogue radiating from the Penn State scandal.

But, I want to pass on the words I wish I'd thought of on my own.

It's a multi-perspective look at a two-hour old moment, a decade-long lapse in judgement, and impulsive reaction.
-- -- --

Co-worker Steven Sandberg's blog post: "No sympathy for old men" written about 45 minutes after the firing announcement.

ESPN personality, Michelle Beadle: "Penn St finally gets something right tonight. PSU students- read the 23 page court document. Put your blind loyalty aside. Life trumps sports... Parents of Penn State students- turn on CNN now. If you see junior acting like a moron, might be time to have a talk. Growing up time is now."

Bonnie Bernstein: "Wonder if Penn St students revolting over Paterno's departure will feel shame about this day when they have children. #perspective"

Lindsay Joy, local news and sports reporter at KTWO in Casper, Wy: "The more this week went on, the less it seemed appropriate to watch Joe Pa on the sidelines this and every Saturday. People can blame the media all they want, he turned a blind eye and that will never be understandable."

A Grantland article that came out Tuesday morning, before much of anything hit the fan. It's called "Growing up Penn State" and written by a State College native. Beautiful, heartbreaking.

I'm paraphrasing now, but on Tuesday an "Outside the Lines" personality said something in the vein of: We didn't need a hero in this situation. We needed an adult. We wanted someone to act like an adult.

-- -- --

Joe Paterno: "I wish I had done more."

-- -- --

What's happening with the firing of Joe Paterno, the students' reaction, and resulting impact crater is incredibly fascinating. I've been hooked to the TV watching it all, and refreshing my twitter feed, reading it all.

ESPN is reporting (9:05pm PST) that students have flipped a news truck. He says, "I don't know if [police] have the capacity to break up this crowd."

Now, 9:17pm PST, "They have their batons out. I'm looking at about five officers here. It's a mess out here. It's hard to tell how many are actually protesting and how many are just out here to look at the protest.... [Police] are severely outnumbered. I'm afraid this could get ugly."

Steven Sandberg 9:18pm PST: "It's a football coach. There's no need for violence. Everyone needs to calm down before someone gets seriously hurt."

-- -- --

You say, "We are Penn State!"

Who are you?

-- -- --

Here's the thing. In several hours this will die down. In days, we'll be on to whatever next scandal captivates us.

There will not be a day in the coming months, years, decades, lifetimes that the victims will not be tormented by what happened.

-- -- --

"All that's necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


4:15am. Fast asleep after covering a Halloween parade and nighttime shenanigans.

Work phone rings. Breaking news. A driveby shooting and high speed police chase.

Shot video and got what little information I could, and turned it over to the dayside reporters.

That was one week ago. In that time, more and more information has come out about what happened early Tuesday morning. A young couple was in the victim car. In the suspect car, four people, 20 years old and younger. Three shots rang out, at least one hitting the driver in the jaw. Other passenger was out of the hospital after one day. The shooter's car flew off, leading state police on a chase that ended in a crash, killing one of the passengers. A 17 year old. The others in the car-- two 19 year olds were taken the hospital and eventually taken to jail. And a 20 year old took off. He's still on the run.

Investigators believe all four suspects are gang-affiliated, and say one is on a statewide Department of Justice watch list.

This summer gang violence erupted with a fatal stabbing and several large gang fights. This is the first time that gang violence has hit non-gang citizens, spilling into a residential neighborhood.

We've been following the story every day, covering the search for the fourth suspect, what it means to be a documented gang member, and how gang activity is checked at high schools.

It's something we'll be covering in many ways for the days and weeks to come.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Southern Oregon Adventures: Oregon Caves

There are many, many things to do in Southern Oregon. On my list since near the beginning has been going to the Oregon Caves -- a National Monument about two hours from Medford. Eight of us from work carpooled up the winding, mountain roads to the Caves. At about 4000 feet, we were high enough for the rain to fall as snow. We hiked a snow-laden trail before warming up in an idyllic lodge and heading into the Caves.

Our group spent about an hour and a half in the caves. We weren't crawling on our hands and knees, or squeezing between crevices, or rappelling down cliffs. What we did do was climb steps, duck under low hanging rocks, and step through a small puddle or two.

There are few stalactites and stalagmites in the caves because it's one of the few caves worldwide made of marble, not limestone. It makes for easy incredible kinds of formations. The rooms and areas were named: The Imagination Room, The Ghost Room, Paradise Lost, The Speakeasy, Angel Falls.

The tour guide, a Forest Service Ranger, Derek, called himself a bit of a historian of the Caves, giving the story of how they were discovered, explored, and turned into a tourist attraction.

There are some creepies in the cave-- hibernating bats, daddy long legs crawling on top of each other, and the remains of a bear.

Temperature inside the caves: 44˚
Outside: 32˚

While we were inside several inches had fallen outside, creating a mini winter wonderland (and snow-pocalypse on our cars).

And of course, it wouldn't be a Southern Oregon Adventure without a group picture.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Technology Troubles and Complimentary Caller

A few weeks ago I got a call on my work phone, our assignment editor frantically asking me to come in early. There had been an officer-involved fatal shooting with possibly several victims. It happened a few hours before in Myrtle Creek, about an hour and a half north. I rushed to work, grabbed gear and directions, and jammed up I-5.

I grabbed video and interviews at the crime scene. Found a mom who lives just down the street and saw the standoff. I shot my pieces in front of the camera, describing the scene. I felt good about what I got and what I was putting together.

By this time it was about 4:00pm. Not enough time to drive back and get the report and video back for the 5, 6, and 6:30. I had a laptop and would sned the stories back using the internet. But ran into some online obstrutctions. Technology didn't work and nothing got back to the station. It's the most frustrating feeling in the business-- by no fault of your own, all your hard work, is for nothing.

Frustrated, I went back to Medford and put everything together for the 11:00 broadcast. This time nothing would get in my way. I put it together and finished it all up.

Later that week, someone called our newsroom, wanting to talk to me. It was a man from Myrtle Creek. He watched me out there. He saw everything happening earlier in the day. His coworker was the first shooting victim. He watched and read "all 32 articles" about the shooting. Newspapers and TV news reports from Medford, Roseburg, Eugene. He said many of them got their facts wrong, misspoke, took words and quotes out of context, and sensationalized. He said my report was the truest, most factual, and did the most justice to what actually happened.

The best compliments come from the people directly involved with the stories.

Full of gratitude and pride, I thanked him, and headed out to take on the rest of the day.