5 x 8: Ethan’s olympic Saturday

First this: At the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis this evening, we’ll be discussing the art of the comment section. University of Minnesota journalism professor Shayla Thiel-Stern, Julio Ojeda-Zapata from the Pioneer Press, and City Pages’ Aaron Rupar will be on the panel to discuss whether a comments section reflect — poorly or positively — on the mission or brand of the company hosting the comments page? Come for the booze; stay for the brilliance.

  1. Listen Steve Seel talks with Bob Collins about online commenting

    August 12, 2013

Here’s the Monday Morning Rouser

1) KIDS WHO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

You could try to raise kids more awesome than Ethan Neid of Sartell, Minn., and his pals, but the odds aren’t in your favor. Witness how young Neid spent his Saturday.

Ethan, 10, held his second annual “olympics” to raise money for charity and get people to donate stuffed animals for the kids at a children’s hospital in Minneapolis.

As with any olympics, there must be an opening ceremony with appropriate torch…

Opening ceremony at Ethan’s olympics. (Photo: Carrie Neid)

Followed by the events, such as the long jump…

Photo: Carrie Neid

The traditional race-with-the-football thing…

Photo: Carrie Neid

And the noodle throw…

Photo: Carrie Neid

And because of the Neid family, 75 kids in a hospital are going to get a day brightener.

Photo: Carrie Neid

2) WHEN AN NPR JOURNALIST DESTROYS NPR JOURNALISM

It is an unusual news organization that employs someone to question the accuracy of its award-winning reporting, but that’s what NPR does with its ombudsman position. Edward Schumacher-Matos disappeared from his regular ombudsman duties for several months recently, and now we know why: He was investigating NPR’s investigation that alleged significant abuses in the foster care system for Native American children in South Dakota. The series concluded that the state’s Department of Social Services “was systematically removing Indian children from their families in order to collect federal reimbursements. The series further alleges that cultural bias — it stops just short of saying racism — was behind the overwhelming placement of these children in white homes, in possible violation of federal law.”

Schumacher-Matos produced his own six-part investigation, finding that:

  • The series committed five violations of NPR’s ethics policy (read)
  • A claim that South Dakota removes children at three times the rate of other states is wrong (read)
  • The suggestion that South Dakota removes Native American children from families because there’s a financial incentive to do so is “egregiously unfair.” (read)
  • NPR’s reporting created an “exaggerated image of how much federal money is going to actual foster care for Indian children in South Dakota — and thus, to magnify the supposed incentive the state has for removing Indian children from their homes.” (read)
  • Why the Indian Child Welfare Act goals are not being met is a story that should be done, but not the way NPR did it. It focused only on the role of the state, “but offered no proof to back the charge that the state was acting out of cultural bias or racism. A needed look at a difficult issue was failed by errors and crucial missing context.” (read)
  • Reporters and editors — the editors refused to cooperate with the ombudsman in explaining the process of the story — had blinders on. “Their framing was so severe that the series did not even mention the hundreds of Indian children that state and tribal courts put in the homes of relatives under a separate federal welfare program, effectively serving the same purpose as foster care,” Schumacher-Matos says. (read)

It is an astonishing piece of journalism about an astonishing piece of journalism. In a response, NPR called the Schumacher-Matos’ work “deeply flawed.”

It also buried it. The work of NPR’s ombudsman never reaches the listening audience, the bulk of NPR’s audience. But the network also made sure it didn’t reach the bulk of its online audience either. It posted Schumacher-Matos’ work on its website at 8 p.m. on a Friday night, and offered no link to it on its front page.

The only way to find out about it is word of mouth.

3) TICKETMASTER WANTS IN ON SCALPING. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Ticketmaster, the organization that control concert and event ticket-selling and has made a fortune out of add-on charges wants in on the scalping business, the Wall Street Journal reports. Its parent, Live Nation, is now listing ticket re-seller prices alongside its own on venue maps.

Live Nation is able to reap fees three times on such tickets: a percentage that is tacked on to the original purchase price, a resale commission and a final fee — the latter two from the consumer purchasing the resale tickets. It also collects fees from brokers who opt to use its new reselling software.

For fans, the one-stop-shop could make ticket-buying more convenient. It could also help cut down on speculative selling—the practice of scalping seats for lofty prices with ambiguously described locations, without yet being in possession of those tickets—since TM+ allows resellers to post only barcode-bearing tickets that can be downloaded instantly.

It could also shrink the supply of affordable tickets, some experts tell the Journal, by encouraging promoters and artists to put tickets on sale immediately on the secondary market.

4) WATCHING THE LIGHTS GO OUT

Former Minnesota physician David Hilfiker, 68, has Alzeheimer’s and while he can, he wants you to know about it. Now a resident of Washington, D.C., Hilfiker has operated the blog, Watching the Lights Go Out. “I’m a bit of an exhibitionist,” David tells Mashable, “so I like to talk about a lot of the things that are important to me and … relate to my inner life in some way.”

There’s no indication he’s letting the disease run his life. This week he’s on vacation in the Boundary Waters.

But how can he not have the disease to think about? Shortly before he left, some test results suggested he doesn’t have Alzheimer’s.

My doctor said that he still believes I have Alzheimer’s. But he’s certainly puzzled by the negative results. The other possibility, he said, was that I was so early in the disease that both scans were negative. If that’s the case, of course, it’s very good news. But it seems to me highly unlikely. I’ve had symptoms for perhaps five years and serious symptoms for three years. In addition, plaque deposition in Alzheimer’s begins at least fifteen years before symptoms appear. Being too early in the disease doesn’t seem to me a reasonable explanation for all the normal tests.

Related: Why Not Everyone Gets Alzheimer’s (Huffington Post).

Finding the humor in Alzheimer’s (Star Tribune).

5) THE ST. CLOUD ISLAMIC CENTER PROPOSAL

The word “Islamic” is still scaring people, apparently. St. Cloud residents will get the opportunity to speak on a proposal to build a mosque and school in the city, the St. Cloud Times reports. The proposed mosque would include a dome and 50-feet-high minarets. The city is recommending the plan be approved, although nearly 200 residents signed a petition against it, citing traffic concerns.

Bonus I: Sailing the Apostle Islands is idyllic, despite a thunderstorm (Los Angeles Times).

Bonus II: 10 Ways That Gardening Beats Parenting (WBUR)

Bonus III: Start seeing motorcyclists doing good things.

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Government and smoking cessation.

Second hour: Have you used Nice Ride, Uber or Airbnb? If yes, then you have participated in the “sharing economy.” The Sharing Economy or “collaborative consumption” is turning old business models on their heads. Forbes predicts these business will be a $3 billion-plus economic boon this year. What businesses/services make up a sharing economy? Is this really a lasting new way of business or is this just something trendy?

Third hour: Addiction to porn.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From the America Abroad series, a program about Syria and the international principle called “Responsibility to Protect.” How the US and the international community have responded to humanitarian crises around the globe — Syria, Libya, Rwanda, Somalia & Bosnia.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - The USDA issues an important crop estimate for the U.S. today. Prices have been falling on expectations that the crop will be very large. MPR’s Mark Steil will have the story.

MPR’s Nikki Tundel observes the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Cedar Cultural Center.

For the musically disinclined, there is hope. There are plenty of music-making apps. The NPR Music team has vetted some of the best technology that can turn your tablet or smartphone into a virtual instrument.