THIS is ‘journalism’?

First, a confession: I have no formal education either English or Journalism.

That said, I have written, reported, edited and done all of the tasks someone working in either of these fields would do, and been published.

I make the above points because they go to why I feel qualified to write the following.

I recently found out, by seeing a published notification of hearings, that a major civil engineering project will be built very near my hometown. This project, known as the Great Lakes Basin Railroad, would be a roughly 275 mile railroad starting in Wisconsin, passing through north-eastern Illinois and terminating in northern Indiana. The stated goal of the project is to connect several large Class 1 railroads, bypassing the congested connections in and around Chicago.

Great Lakes Basin Railroad is to be a privately-funded project…but they are seeking government approval to use ’eminent domain’ powers to allow them to force property owners to sell at the so-called ‘fair-market value’. That means literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people may be subject to the process.

You would think that such a huge project would draw the attention of the media outlets in virtually every city and town along or near it’s proposed route. It will pass within a few miles of my hometown, almost on the edge of it, yet I found out about this not from my local newspaper, but via a notice of public meetings published in the local paper of a much larger town.

Being what I would like to think as fairly civic-minded individual, I decided to write a letter to the local newspaper about the project. When I dropped by their office to hand the letter in, things got decidedly strange. I approached the counter that separates the paper’s receptionist from the public, handed my letter over, and just out of curiosity, I asked why there had been no coverage of what should be a major story to them. The receptionist not knowing, she asked me to wait while she went to ask the reporters. She returned with another woman in tow, who she introduced as the reporter covering the story. She was carrying a classic reporter’s lined pad, and the first question she asked me was whether I was someone who would be directly ‘impacted’ by the project. She seemed quite disappointed that I wasn’t, and when I in my turn asked her why there had been no coverage of the new rail line, she told me that she was waiting for someone who would be ‘impacted’ by the line to contact her!

Now, here’s the fun part: Great Lakes Basin Railroad has a web site under their parent organization’s auspices at Among other things you can find on that site is a complete map of the proposed route for the rail line with sufficient details supplied to allow anyone to see where the line will be at any particular point…and that, in turn, should be more than enough to find out who owns said property.

So why would any journalist sit on their duff, waiting for someone to approach them about a story like this, when they could find people to interview with a little research?

Am I wrong to think that reporters should be more proactive in reporting news, more willing to do the literal and mental legwork to actually gather the facts on a story? That is how I worked, back when I was writing and reporting. Do modern ‘journalists’ just sit around, waiting for a story to come to them? Or did I simply encounter a hack, someone who has the job for whatever reason and does the bare minimum? I don’t know, but the fact that this individual is supposedly responsible for covering local news is disturbing to me, and makes me doubt the future of journalism as a whole.

Thought for a friend who has lost someone dear.

We are their memories

We are their lives

When those we love

Have left us for the final time

In out hearts

In our minds

In our lives

There, they are still alive

Still with us

Still loving us

Still teaching us

And as long as we live

As long as we remember

And keep their love

And their spirit


They are never gone

And never will death truly claim them

Election day is here…and even better, will soon be over!

Today is primary day. The polls opened at six, and I walked over to vote at a little after eight.
Here in Illinois, going to the polls and voting doesn’t entail having some officious individual demanding that you produce your ‘papers’. You walk in, go up to the table the election officials are sitting behind, and you tell them your name. They, in turn, go through their printed roll of people registered to vote in their precinct to see if you’re there. If you are, they remove a card with your name on it from their roll. It has a reproduction of your signature on it, and you have to sign so they can be sure you’re you. Once they’re satisfied, the election officials ask what party you want to vote in, and you’re given a ballot,
Voting is done by filling in a small ellipse-shaped opening with a pen, a lot like an ACT or other test form. Once you’re done, you physically take the ballot to the machine that reads it and you feed it through. The only input from the election officials is to make sure the machine reads it properly…and to put an “I voted!” sticker on your coat.
It’s a friendly event, people know each other, and it’s pretty much a community gathering. For me, voting Democratic in a very Republican part of my state, the ballot was very short: presidential candidates, their delegates, candidates for the US Senate…and that’s it.
I don’t know who’s going to win the different races, and after this past week spent being carpet-bombed with political commercials, I’m just glad that it will soon be over. But for all that, voting here is not the onerous chore it seems to be becoming in other states, and I’m glad I got out and did it.

I would recommend this to everyone

This is not my blog post…but I wish it were.

America today seems to be becoming more and more narcissistic. Many people seem to think the world revolves around them, and that if everything does not turn out in their favour, then there is something seriously wrong.

Society has never been about the individual, but about how individuals can work together to accomplish something greater. We seem to be forgetting that truth, and I fear that we will shortly be forced to learn the hard lesson of what happens when we do.

Here’s the actual post, one I hope every reader will take to heart.