It’s amazing how things seem to happen at once. I’ve been waiting to find more information for one story in order to write a follow-up, and waiting on an event for another. Both happened today. Isn’t that just the thing?
The follow up is to the Jena story. Details of Mychal Bell’s juvenile records are being quoted, and I’ve tried to track down the source, but have had little luck. Every time I’ve asked someone where they got their information, they either disappear, or ignore the question. Today, Pursuing Holiness and Evangelical Outpost have posted links to eyewitness testimony, police reports, and the DA’s bail hearing argument. The documents are at Evangelical Outpost, as separate links. One is a broken link, but I imagine that will be fixed, soon (here’s the link — it doesn’t say anything new, and carefully cut out the defense attorney’s response). The person who provided this information wrote a post at Pursuing Holiness, and wishes to be anonymous.
I talked with a reporter from one newspaper who mentioned about Bell’s past record and who stated that this information was released with Mychael Bell’s bail hearing. I’m assuming the information I’ve been looking for is in the document with the broken link. One other document I wanted was included, and is another of the missing pieces I needed for my follow up.
I was contacted by a production editor at CNN yesterday about the Jena story, but she was mainly interested in where I lived. I must update this in my About Me page. I believe she contacted me because she was looking for someone in Jena for an afternoon ‘bit’ on Jena. I watched the bit, which ended up being a debate between Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson from bondinfo.org, who managed to work into the discussion that the NAACP is the equivalent of the KKK; and Roland Martin, a CNN contributor. Peterson is an embarrassment to the black people of this country, but Martin spent all of his time looking supercilious and quoting Jesse Jackson.
More disturbing, the CNN talking head managed to introduce some of Mychal Bell’s juvenile record into the discussion, in a very offhand manner, without references to sources, or even if the source was credible–showing that CNN is reading our comments, folks. It was one of the most despicable acts of sensationalist journalism it’s been my misfortune to see.
I never thought I would agree with Doc Searls and others who believe in citizen journalism and that the mainstream media is dead. After yesterday, though, I agree with the latter, but I’m not sure of the former. Seems to me that the mainstream media is only giving the people what they want: sound bites; innuendo; dozens of shallow, sensationalist ‘bits’ rather than one longer, thoughtful story; opinion rather than fact–the in-depth coverage of a story is sacrificed to immediacy and ratings. The thing is, that’s what too many weblogs and ‘alternative news sources’ give, too.
Still, there were webloggers associated with the Jena 6 event who wrote thoughtfully, tried to dig up information, and find, and publish, the facts. I’ll link to these when I write my follow-up.
The second story is on a press conference being held today about a report that Public Citizen is releasing today on the abuses of Binding Mandatory Arbitration (BMA), and in support of the Arbitration Fairness act of 2007. I’ve read the report, and it’s excellent–very detailed, very factual. Most of the work is based in California, where records have to be kept by arbitration companies. If anything, California is actually much more ‘pro consumer’ than most other states, and whatever the report shows for that state is probably doubled in others.
I have a couple of other items I want to cover, one on photography, one on tech. The one on photography is based on some of things I’ve discovered about myself while working on the book. The tech one is based on some of the things I’ve discovered about myself while reading weblogs while working on the book. I need to get back to the book, however, especially since I’m determined to see if finished on time.
I’ve had a hard time with this book, and it’s not because of the subject or the reviewers. The subject of web graphics, covering topics ranging from photography to SVG to the new Silverlight, and everything in-between, is one I absolutely love and always have. The reviewers are three people I know, like, and respect, and they’ve been very encouraging.
I have this book, and another for O’Reilly I’ve talked with my editor about and then that will, most likely, be it for me. I’m considering trying alternative publication routes, including my own ad-based web sites on technology and graphics, and perhaps even publishing my own PDF-based works. I’ve always want to return to the topic of making technology more accessible for the non-tech, a subject I really like. I’ve enjoyed the graphics writing so much that focusing on that, also, has great appeal.
Josh Anon at O’Reilly Media reviewed just such a book, Get Your Head Around Aperture 1.5 from an Aperture help site, Bagelturf. The author, Steve Weller, self-published the book, and promises to provide updates of the book, as they arise. It’s based on work he did at his site, and though the layout looks a little rough, the ability to be able to update the book to fix typos or errors, or to update the material based on new information appeals to me enormously.
At the same time, people really don’t want to pay for things they’d rather get free. Eventually, the only writers who can afford to publish online may end up being Cory Doctorow or those who are independently wealthy, and I’m neither.
Something I have to think on, while I finish the book.