Reporters with opinions (5×8 – 1/4/11)


Mitch Berg, who writes the Shot in the Dark blog, reports that the new Legislature is cracking down on partisan journalism sites. They’ll still be allowed to cover press conferences, but won’t get credentials as reporters.

Let the debate begin anew. If you have a point of view, are you a journalist?

NPR, coincidentally, is beginning a two-part series today on newspapers with a slant. It focuses on examining British journalism.


“House Republicans have created their own worst nightmare,” says in a lead story today.

If Boehner’s gratitude is nowhere to be seen, it is because Bachmann presents a particular headache for the GOP. The Tea Party helped propel Republicans into office by attacking Democrats; now, with the dirty work done and popular support for centrist compromise growing, wild cable TV statements are looking more like a liability. And Bachmann is Exhibit A. But by withholding from her the formal power she believes she has earned, the GOP has probably compounded the problem. As Bachmann’s time in the Minnesota state senate made clear, rejection by party elders has a way of energizing her. If things had gone her way, Bachmann might have been tempted to move past Mama Grizzly extremism, but now, she’ll be sticking with it. Boehner should have seen this coming.


Just when you thought the Midwest vs. East Coast Blizzard War on News Cut was over, along comes this little number:

Right back at you, East Coast. This is from Minnesota’s December blizzard (I might’ve posted this a few weeks ago, too):

Your turn. Who wins?


Some guy went careening down I-94 the other day after the highway had been closed in the middle of a snowstorm. What to do about people who drive badly in the snow? The Fargo Forum editorializes today:

A stretch of Interstate 29 about 12 miles north of Fargo offers a case study of the chaos that can result when drivers fail to heed road closures. On Saturday, New Year’s Day, a state trooper counted three semi-trailers and 14 cars stuck on the road, some stranded for a couple of days. Incredibly, law enforcement officers rescued one young man who was wearing shorts – it’s important, after all, to look like you’re driving to the beach in a blizzard.



H/T: Neatorama, which says:

The yellow dots are airplanes in the sky during a 24 hour period. Stay with the picture. You will see the light of the day moving from the east to the west, as the Earth spins on its axis.

Also you will see the aircraft flow of traffic leaving the North American continent and traveling at night to arrive in the UK in the morning. Then you will see the flow changing, leaving the UK in the morning and flying to the American continent in daylight.

Have we reached peak travel? According to one estimate, “vehicle travel in the U.S. would have to fall by half by 2050, or fuel efficiency would have to improve to 130 miles per gallon, or biofuels would have to make up most of the fuels on the market to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

(h/t: Midwest Energy News)


Bubba the ladder-climbing dog:

Story here.


Gov. Mark Dayton is preparing to appoint a commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources. His choice may help determine the DNR’s approach to development, forestry and mining. What should be the chief mission of the DNR?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: What kind of reform do American schools need, and is there room for the rote test-driven education?

Second hour: Facing an ethical dilemma? New York Times columnist Randy Cohen might be able to give you some guidance.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Both hours: Live broadcast from the Capitol rotunda, featuring the new legislative leaders, key lawmakers, and Gov. Mark Dayton.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Evgeny Morozov once bought the argument that the internet is good for democracy and the idea that tweets, blogs, and FaceBook are mightier than the sword. Now, he argues none of that is true.

Second hour: The latest on stuttering.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The new Republican majority takes over complete control of the Legislature for the first time in at least four decades. While the first day is largely ceremonial, we’ll hear from some of the key players and new members.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Sounds like a slippery slope. Who determines what is “partisan journalism?”

    This seems to be an extention of the battle fought by The UpTake to retain its office in the Capitol press corps and to cover local political events. Personally, I think The UpTake has met my standard of “journalism.” In fact, it was won praise for its unique wall-to-wall coverage of the Coleman-Franken race, court cases and recount, it also covers many national news events as well. It is more like “C-Span” than MSNBC, in my opinion.

    To me, partisan journalism is in the eye of the beholder. There are some who claim MPR is partisan, and Fox News is not. Others hold a completely opposite view of the two news organizations.

    I would keep the overtly polical hacks out (I would include Minnesota Democrats Exposed and guys like Robert Erickson –the Emmer penny-tosser–out, but let bona fide journalists, columnists and bloggers in.

  • Doctor Gonzo

    There is no such thing as a reporter without a point of view. The only “reporter” that doesn’t have a point of view is a stenographer, or maybe a security camera.

    I don’t believe in objective journalism. It can’t exist. Attempting to hold journalists to an impossible standard is just a way to make the field feel better about itself, imagining themselves to be above the fray while they present a fair, “both sides” viewpoint of things.

  • John O.

    I tend to agree with Bob Moffitt’s assessment; however, I would limit “credentials” to the major media outlets.

    As stated, folks who want to cover hearings, press conferences and floor sessions can still do so without a formal credential, according to the blog post. In the early days of newsletters such as “Politics in Minnesota,” both Wy Spano and D.J. Leary not only did their newsletter and annual political guide, they also were registered lobbyists. As I recall, neither had formal press credentials, so it would seem fair to observe that the absence of a credential did not inhibit their ability to produce their weekly newsletter in the pre-internet days.

    Are there “good” bloggers who can produce information in a timely, accurate manner? Of course. Are there others who might be classified as “hacks?” Absolutely. It’s up to us as consumers of this information to decide which is which.

    As I recall, wasn’t the crux of the UpTake’s initial request for credentials related more to obtaining office space in the Capitol? The ability to cover events in the Capitol complex is one thing, but using the credential argument to try and leverage office space is an altogether different debate.

  • MNReader

    Does that mean Fox News reporters won’t get credentials?

  • MBerg

    Always great to hear from you, Bob.

    I’m of many minds about this story.

    1) The DFL denied credentials to Dan Ochsner (of KNSI in St. Cloud) last session. It’s true that he’s partisan; along with being a conservative talk show host, Ox was a GOP district leader in SD15, and he’d run against Tarryl Clark in 2006. . The precedent was set, then; “partisan” media don’t get credentialed – provided they’re partisan *enough*, according to a more or less arbritrary standard that says Ox is “partisan”, but the Uptake isn’t.

    2) The MNGOP denied credentials to *all* “partisan” media, left and right, unlike the DFL’s selective approach in the ’09 session. I’m not aware of which groups besides Uptake were denied credentials – I didn’t apply for any for True North or the Northern Alliance – but I’d think a blanket ban is a better thing than a selective, partisan one – no?

    3) What is “partisan?” Good question. If the Uptake and Dan Ochsner are both partisans, then is Lori Sturdevant (who is every bit as strident as Ochsner in her bias)? Fox News? Notwithstanding the fact that the “bias” is with their *opinion* talking heads rather than their actual news, is their coverage any more “biased” than the Strib (the bias of whose political coverage is well worth a debate)? Or KARE (ditto), or KSTP (lefties are howling about the fact that Channel 5 actually fact-checked Mark Dayton, which is a sure sign of conservative bias) or even MPR (yep, worth a discussion).

    On the one hand, I’m not sure what I think about the Uptake; I supported the basic concept when Chuck Olsen and Noah Kunin launched it way back when, but not a few of their “journalists” have shown themselves to be no less agenda-driven than, well, me. And I’m less thrilled with their current management’s philosophy.

    So do we define “partisan”, and ban ’em all? Or credential *everyone*, and make the Legislative floor look like the mosh pit at a Husker Du concert (circa 1982)? Or pick and choose?