The hardest job in journalism (5×8 – 7/13/12)

Backlash from the ballpark, was your Yahoo password stolen, group hug in Fergus Falls, the way we really are and that Goyte song, and sunset in Laporte.


Don’t criticize the local folks.

That much is the lesson Robert Williams at the East Ottertail Focus must be walking away from, given what sounds like a strident response to his article and reworked article in his paper (mentioned in this space this week) that took amateur ballplayers to task for bad behavior. That’s a column that took a lot of guts to write.

There’s a load of risk taking individuals to task in a small community and Williams, apparently, heard the backlash, removing the first article, rewriting it, and then removing that version, too.

In his latest article, Williams acknowledges there’s more good sportsmanship than bad, credits a team from Perham, and then responds to the people who’ve been jamming his phone line since the original article:

I am not here to belittle people and I believe my work speaks for itself in how I do my best to relate what happens at sporting events in a positive fashion.

What should I do when what happens on the field is not positive?

Just sit there and pretend it isn’t happening? Keep my mouth shut.

This topic is not some new fad. It was something I heard about all weekend.

It isn’t just me bringing it up.

But I am not going to mention any names of people I’ve discussed the topic of sportsmanship with for fear of having to field phone calls from them.

People don’t like being called out. People want the truth but find it hard to swallow when it is about them.

I saw offended people this weekend – people who were trying their best and giving of their time to assist in putting on a display of sporting entertainment at multiple events.

One tournament was created to raise awareness of teen suicide. It wasn’t even about baseball.

Teen suicide is a far more heinous topic than poor sportsmanship.

To display such bad attitudes in the realm of a tournament built around philanthropy to prevent such acts and create empathy for those who have lost young relatives to self-inflicted deaths is embarrassing.

There is no excuse for it. I don’t care how old you are. I don’t care where you’re from and I don’t care who you are.

There’s no tougher assignment for a reporter than covering a small, close community.


PBS NewsHour’s website has posted such a simple tool for answering the obvious question that it’s a wonder other websites carrying details of the stealing of Yahoo passwords haven’t done the same thing.

Enter your Yahoo! username, get the answer.


Fans of an historic building slated for demolition in Fergus Falls will call attention to the value of the doomed structure tomorrow. They’ll hug it. The Kirkbride building was a treatment facility for the mentally ill — although it was known at the time as “an insane asylum.” It reflected the treatment theory of the time — located away from urban centers, farms to work on, and a natural setting.

Tomorrow, the building’s supporters are organizing a “flash mob” to circle, then hug, the building. They’re hoping a video of the event will galvanize support for keeping it.


A little lesson in human behavior, courtesy of NPR’s excellent “Monkey See” blog…

“I’m not suggesting that the primary way to absorb this video is as a lesson in anything, but I am suggesting that this is a real thing that real people really do,” Linda Holmes writes today.

“A lot of people have a public cultural identity that endorses only (1) things that they think are beneficial to society according to a sort of cultural code of ethics and (2) things that are consistent with the way they want other people to believe (sometimes truthfully, sometimes not) that they relate to culture. But then they also have a private cultural identity that consists of what they actually like and respond to and enjoy.”


Laporte, Minnesota puts its best foot forward

A Summer Sunset from rideMN on Vimeo.


Minneapolis has a rate of unsolved homicides that is higher than those in comparable cities. Police say potential witnesses don’t come forward, because of a lack of trust or for other reasons. Today’s Question: If you had witnessed a crime, would you feel comfortable cooperating with police?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: International adoption.

Second hour: Family road trips.

Third hour: The two-year anniversary of the BP oil spill.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): The TED Radio Hour: The future of cities. For the first time in history, more than half the world’s people live in cities.

Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – How does cancer evade treatment?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The Mormon community has a reputation for conservative politics. But a controversial topic in the southwest, has revealed a political rift. An immigration debate is underway among the conservative faithful in Arizona, where Latino Mormon communities are growing. NPR will report Mormons and immigration in Arizona.

  • krj

    1) It sucks that reporting what is happening at a public event like a baseball tournament is causing this much grief. He just ‘reported’ the behavior, if people were not acting like asses, then they should be behind him and should be calling out the people who don’t know how to behave in public. This looks bad upon the entire community not just the idiots acting out.

    2) A quick side note to the password issue. Just like being chased by a bear, you don’t need to out run the bear just outrun a slower friend, having a password that even just takes a few hours to crack is enough in most cases for the ‘hacker’ to just move on and get into an easier account. (This is all out the window though if the reward for your specific account access is much greater than other accounts)

  • Jim Shapiro

    Let me be sure I have this right: People want to “save” an insane asylum. By giving it a “group hug”.

    Do they have any idea of the atrocities that occurred in places like this? The fraudulent commitments? The cruel abuse of human dignity?

    Here’s an idea. Perhaps the facility should be reopened. It could be used specifically to house victims of a strange new pathology: Flash Mobsterism.


  • Bob Collins

    So if we just wipe out distasteful history and make it go away, what does that accomplish?

  • Tyler

    Heya Bob, were comments turned off on yesterday’s 5×8 on purpose?

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob – “So if we just wipe out distasteful history and make it go away, what does that accomplish?”

    My comment was half tongue in cheek. I’m a big fan of old architecture and remembering the past, regardless of how stained. “Those who refuse to learn from history” and all that stuff.

    It’s group hugs and flash mobs that I find to be rather repugnant.


  • vjacobsen

    The pictures from the Kirkbride flickr remind me of all the pictures I saw last month of Ellis Island pre-renovation. And although there’s this whole “Coming to America” aspect of the grounds, the history of the island also include some darker times. And truthfully, parts of Ellis Island are still in dire need of renovation and restoration.

    Reading through the histories, I propose this: Turn it into a self- sustaining community. Perhaps move some businesses into the space as well. People could farm, sell the crops and eggs and honey….it would be wonderful!

  • Jim Shapiro

    vjacobsen – Brilliant!

    A “swords into plowshares” type transformation.

    A similar thing was done in Christiania, Denmark, where a military base was turned into a self-sustaining, largely autonomous community. (Although be real careful trying something like that in this country. The DEA/ATF/FBI would probably attack.)

    Got any “community organizer” in ya?


  • Jamie

    I like that idea, too. And the people who get to sign up to move in first should be people who are currently homeless or on the verge of homelessness, along with a small core group of people/trainers skilled in the ways of self-sustainable living.