Checkbook journalism, basement millennials, confronting the achievement gap (5 x 8 – 11/5/13)


Some journalists may talk about a public’s right to know but when it comes to big news, money talks.

The parachutists who fled their wrecked planes over Superior, Wis., over the weekend have cut a deal with NBC News. The survivors can do radio and newspaper interviews — as one of them did with All Things Considered host Tom Crann last evening. But one newspaper says the deal does not allow the parachutists to be interviewed on non-NBC TV stations nor can video of the incident be shown elsewhere under terms of the deal, according to the Washington Post.

The group was reportedly looking to make $150,000 for their account, although nobody is saying if they got that much. A report says they got at least $100,000 (NBC has posted video and images here). On Facebook, the skydiving group called the reports “wildly inaccurate.”

None of the participants is required to say anything to anybody and they’re entitled to make money off their misfortune. But should news organizations be buying their silence?

The Washington Post says:

Mainstream news organizations typically frown on paying sources, lest the payments taint the sources’ veracity or color the news outlet’s objectivity in reporting the story. Although some news organizations, such as the National Enquirer and, pay for news, checkbook journalism is considered unethical by the Society of Professional Journalists and other professional news organizations.

NBC News’s agreement with the sky divers follows last week’s disclosure that the news division is negotiating an exclusive documentary deal, reportedly for more than $100,000, with the family of Hannah Anderson, the teenage girl who was kidnapped this summer by a family friend who had murdered her mother and brother.

Once the video was put out there, crowdsourcing the accident’s cause ensued in NBC’s comments area.

Watch the video, it’s easy to spot the cause. Three people out the right side door hanging off the wing strut causes the plane to veer right and down because the center of gravity has shifted and the additional wind drag. It was probably impossible for the pilot to hold steady, had the other plane not been there this plane would have started to spiral out of control.

Ever note how the barnstorming wing walkers usually stayed centered on the upper wing? One person walking out along the wing isn’t too difficult to control but three people?

Recipe for disaster with or without the other planes involvement.

The heavy yaw on the rudder of plane #1 is clearly visible.

Glad everyone made it… Phew one hell of a ride. The two planes just lost track of each other.

I almost had the same thing happen just out shooting war birds… the t34 my camera plane lost track of the p51 we where photographing. Next thing I know we are rolling to evade.

When you have a lot of jumpers on the step and your near the service ceiling of the plane.

the drag of the jumpers slows the plane down. So to keep your airspeed up you start descending.

I’m not positive, but I’m sure that the plane that looks like its climbing up is in actuality being descended on to.

The group was on NBC’s Today Show this morning for their “exclusive” interview.


“I thought it was a joke,” one chutist told Matt Lauer, “and not at all appropriate.”

“I watched the plane blow up in flames, I knew the pilot was still in there. So I chased the airplane to see if the pilot got out (in free fall),” Barry Sinex said. “Once the pilot got out, I chased him to make sure he had his chute on.”

All of them said they would parachute again. “It’s just part of who we are,” Sinex said.

“Originally, I assumed Blake was dead because we didn’t hear the plane flying,” said Patricia Roy. “Normally it’s pretty loud, and I didn’t hear the plane flying at all. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, he’s alive. This is awesome.’ It’s like, ‘Don’t screw this up now, buddy.”’

Blake Wedan, who landed the crippled plane, called it one of his better landings. “I had to look at all my control surfaces and make sure they were all there… and they were there so I knew I could fly it,” he said. “Looking at it now, there was a lot more damage than I thought.”

The Today interviews are here.


Boston Globe columnist Jennifer Graham sets the generational powder keg ablaze in a takedown of millennials, whom she describes as “the new American idle,” following a report that 15 percent of them are not working. She acknowledges the economy is partly to blame — thanks to old people working longer. But in her column this week she says millennials are victims of their parents’ success:

In pregnancy, “nesting” is a mammal’s proclivity to burrow into a home, surrounded with comfortable things like twigs and leaves. Once our national nesting habits expanded to include pillow-top mattresses and media rooms with big screens and theater seating, we might as well have hung a sign over our kids’ doors, saying, “Abandon all ambition, ye who enter here.”

More so than previous generations, millennials incubated in beauty and comfort and spaciousness unknown to their parents at that age. There was no Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart then. There were no four-car garages, master suites, and cathedral ceilings unless your name was Kennedy or Bush. There was lime-green shag carpeting in ’50s-style ranches with bedrooms the size of today’s walk-in closets. In quarters that close, kids couldn’t wait to move out at 18, even to the shabbiest of apartments.

“The millennials, alas, are trophy kids, a generation spawned not for their usefulness at harvest but because they look so precious in those matching pajamas from Hanna Andersson,” she says.

A Millennial makes a fascinating observation in the comments section, however. They’re burned out. Already.

I often wonder if one reason Millennials (which I am on of) are suffering from burnout. From the time they are toddlers they are being prepared for a successful life. I had hours of homework in middle school, took honors classes, got great grades and joined many extra curricular activities so I could get into college (and get a scholarship).

Then in college I took a full course load, worked two part time jobs and did an internship, and participated in campus activities – all so I could support myself and find a job after college. By the time I graduated I was exhausted – and I know many peers who felt the same way. I was lucky enough to find a job right after graduation and never moved back in with my parents. But about 8 years out of college, i feel like I was duped into never getting a break.

Millenials may be seen as lazy, and some are entitled, but it is only because they were shoved into activities from the time they were little. I think the lack of drive comes from two places, burn out and never having to possess drive before. When parents are the ones pushing you all your life, it is hard to develop self motivation, which is why I think I have this self motivation. I put the pressure on myself rather than my parents putting it on me. However, to keep up with peers, I still ended up feeling burned out.

Our parents never had to keep up the kind of schedule we Milllenials do/did.

On the other hand: They’re not so bad:


Mayor R.T. Rybak last week announced his post-mayoral gig would focus on running an organization to solve the “achievement gap,” the difference in student performance among racial/ethnic groups of students.

Writing on MinnPost today, Jeff Kolnick, a professor of history at Southwest Minnesota State University, says “the solutions too often focus on the public schools alone. Reformers target teachers, or administrators, or the teacher unions, or the need for more charter schools, or the necessity for more and better testing, or the pressing need for tablet computers in every classroom. Rarely do Minnesotans focus on racism and discrimination.”

It is, he contends, a “larger struggle against racism.”

Once they complete their education, they graduate into a state that rejects them and provides too few openings for joining the middle class. They experience a Minnesota that discriminates against men and women of color for jobs and health care and they live every day with police and sheriff departments that racially profile with impunity.

To solve the achievement gap, Mayor Rybak and his allies need to confront and root out racism and discrimination in the same forthright ways that Hubert Humphrey did in the 1940 and 1950s. Without this commitment, we can open as many charter schools as we want, we can bust the teacher’s union and fire all the teachers, we can revamp the systems of teacher training and collect as much data as we want, and we will still be left with one big gap — the racism gap.


For veterans undergoing drug and alcohol rehabilitation who have lost their driver’s licenses, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says, bicycles can be much more than a mode of transportation.

A program to help the vets started when one started picking bikes out of dumpsters and dropped them off at the local VA clinic.

Rick Cherone, a Vietnam veteran from New Berlin, began picking up bicycles he saw in garbage bins, repairing them and dropping them off at Milwaukee’s VA hospital. Then two peer counselors at the VA opened a small bicycle repair shop where four veterans are learning bike repair skills.

Cherone, 67, a combat medic who earned two Purple Hearts, was treated for post traumatic stress at the VA. He met other veterans there going through programs and “they’d try to get them jobs, but guys would say, ‘I don’t have a license.'”

“I made a promise to the Lord, in a foxhole, that if I survived Vietnam I’d help veterans,” Cherone said in a recent interview in his garage where numerous bikes in various states of repair littered the floor.

The bikes help veterans get around. Cherone says it’s been good therapy for him, too.


Zach Sobiech lost his battle with cancer in May but his song, Clouds, is living in new forms. The Twin Cities Gospel Choir and Jearlyn Steele made it into a gospel song at a fundraiser for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund on Saturday night, the Pioneer Press reports. The Stillwater student was given the Dreammaker Award, which was accepted by his parents.

Related: Cancer scare led Minnesota man to deface monument (Billings Gazette).

Bonus I: You may recall the story of Seth Collins, who’s been traveling the country leaving big tips in each state for servers in restaurants to honor his dead brother. His stop in Minnesota left a tip for a server at the Eagle Street Grille in Saint Paul. Collins has now made it to California.

Bonus II: Heavy Meddle: Am I Obligated To Tell People I Have Cancer? (WBUR’s Cognoscenti)

Should the House vote on nondiscrimination legislation?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Innovative cities.

Second hour: Lodro Rinzler, teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, author and columnist

Third hour: A recent article in The Economist stated “…al-Qaeda franchises and jihadist fellow travelers now control more territory, and can call on more fighters, than at any time since Osama bin Laden created the organization 25 years ago.” We’d like to talk about how the group has grown, the locations that currently serve as home base and training ground, and the impact on the U.S. Lastly, what does the current situations say about the U.S.  “war on terror?”

MPR News Presents (12 p.m. -1 p.m.): From the Intelligence Squared debate series: “Do Red States Have a Better Future?”

The Takeaway (1 p.m. to 2 p.m.): Once a Republican stronghold, the state of Virginia might be straying from its Southern roots. Why a liberal Democrat might win the Virginia governors race, and what it might mean for the future of the GOP.

All Things Considered(3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.): An update on Election Day in Minneapolis.

Passwords. We have them for our email, our smartphones, our social networks. Remembering them and keeping them all straight can drive us crazy. Could our fingerprint or even our voice be the way forward? Companies all over Silicon
Valley are betting they are. NPR covers the promise of biometric ID’s.

  • MrE85

    5R) My wife had a cancer scare, too, but we didn’t react by defacing a National Monument. Nice try, folk singer, but you’ll have to pay the price for your crime.

  • Christy

    I am so uninformed when it comes to news stories. Always think reporters are just simply reporting news to help and inform me. Now I want to know who is getting paid what and why. Felling gullible and taken advantage of. The scales have fallen away. Sad. It’s true just follow the money. Wow

  • BReynolds33

    Has anyone else noticed that whenever someone from the millenial generation attempts to defend their generation, they come across as an exact stereotype of their generation?

    I know a great number of millenials. I work with people from that generation that are hellbent on proving the stereotypes wrong. I do not believe one of them would take time out to complain about the honors classes they were fortunate enough to have presented to them, the activities they were allowed to participate in, or striving for greatness and having the means and resources to actually achieve it.

    The problem is not the grand resources they lived with, the opportunities presented, or the pressure they or their parents put on them. The problem is that they were given everything, shown the road to accomplish the next evolution of prosperity and said, “Meh. Good enough.”

    (Please note, again, this is not all millenials, but is a reflection of the generation as a whole. There are many fine exceptions I am proud to point out.)

    • spaz06

      While the reply featured in the article shows what you are saying, economically anyway, American millennials were given something quite different than an opportunity for the next evolution of prosperity, they were handed the worst economic hand in generations. They were handed a stagnant job market, with stagnating real wages, and few opportunities to advance. While many generations had a decade plus of wealth wiped out, older millennial nearing 30 struggle to put together the cash for the same kind of purchases (cars, homes) that were a matter of course for middle-class boomers and xers. Any generational outlook that completely ignores the economics of today, with increasing stratification and stagnation, kind of misses the entire point.

      • BReynolds33

        Somewhere in all of the honors classes and activities, they didn’t learn the lesson that life doesn’t stop because things get hard? That’s on them, then.

        • spaz06

          I agree, and generally life has gone on. But when people complain that millennials live with their parents or work in low level jobs, well, there is a real reason for that, no?

          • BReynolds33

            I haven’t read anyone complaining that millenials are working low level jobs, except the millenials. Millenials, as a group, seem to think they deserve the high paying job right out of the box, and are unwilling to flip burgers to pay bills, and thus go live with mom and dad because then they don’t have to work such a demeaning job. That’s the main complaint. That they don’t work, and why they don’t work.

            People in the past got degrees, then went and got low level jobs and lived with roommates until they could afford to venture out. Now, it is, “Nope. I want the good job and my own place, or I’m going back to the basement.”

          • Tyler

            But Millenials are starting to turn 30. Should they still be flipping burgers and and living in the parents’ basement because they haven’t “earned their dues” yet?

          • BReynolds33

            If that is what it takes to pay the bills? Yes.

          • Tyler

            Then you’re endorsing the new trend in our economy, where, for the first time in American history, children can expect to have a *lesser* quality of life than their parents?

          • BReynolds33

            Endorsing? Absolutely not, but “quality of life” is a subjective term, and not quantifiable. All I am saying is that complaining about the number of opportunities you were given, and blaming your parents for giving them to you is a sad way to live life. If you have bills to pay, you find a way to pay them. Debt is a choice, and no one is forcing anyone to sign their name on the line.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        “The only limits you have are the ones your place on yourself.”

        I’m a millennial probably, haven’t had a job in almost a year. Won’t hear me spewing BS about stagnant job markets and stratification, whatever that is. If that’s the attitude you take into every day then, yeah, the world will probably suck for you. Stop letting other people control your attitude.

    • Dan Voltz

      Socrates famously thought that reading and writing would lead to a decline in the ability of young people to think and that the written word would, thus, lead to a lazy generation.

      My point is that it seems the duty of every generation to point out the flaws in the next. Millenials aren’t lazy/entitled/stupid any more than that generation of readers which came after Socrates.

      • BReynolds33

        Except that Socrates was proven wrong, and as of right now, the stats show that millenials are not holding up their end of the bargain. While it is understandable that some of the younger millenials would still be struggling to find work, the older end of the bracket should be digging in, and they still aren’t, since they don’t get what they want right away. Study after study, and survey after survey show the same result.

        Gen Xers were thought to be lazy by boomers, yes, but there was no evidence of that, and Xers have proven over time that the Boomers were wrong. Millenials have had time to prove the doubters wrong, and for the most part, have not done so.

        • Dave

          Stop labeling people. The labels of these generations is as infuriating as it is asinine.

          • BReynolds33

            I didn’t label them, but thank you for contributing to the conversation.

        • Tyler

          “the stats show that millenials are not holding up their end of the bargain”

          And what of the boomers? The seperation of wealth in the US has not been this great since before the civil war. Now who’s not holding up their end of the bargain?

          Boomers. Greedy *******s.

          • BReynolds33

            Th conversation isn’t about boomers, but the separation of wealth is not due to anyone going to work everyday, but rather on a system of government that rewards the rich and punishes the poor. If your qualm is with the separation of wealth, vote, and get millenials to vote, since they outnumber boomers, and can actually change the system.

        • jon

          Guilty until proven innocent. It’s the american way when talking about generations!

          “following a report that 15 percent of them are not working”

          So 85% of them are working….
          LAZY BASTARDS!!!

  • TJ Swift

    Jeff Kolnick is right, but not the way he thinks he is.

    It’s not the cross burning racism of the klan that is failing black kids, as George Bush so correctly identified, it’s the soft bigotry of low expectations.

    Low expectations from parents who are themselves the product of apathy. Low expectations from people that have a vested interest in maintaining a perpetual victim class.

    RT will make a fine figurehead for a system he did so much to perpetuate.

  • jon

    uncovered from a newspaper as the baby boomers were coming of age:

    More so than previous generations, Babyboomers incubated in beauty and comfort and spaciousness unknown to their parents at that age. There was no Julia Childs or Good HouseKeeping then. There were no two-car garages, master suites, and cathedral ceilings unless your name was Carnegie or Rockefeller. There was no carpeting in ’20s-style ranches with bedrooms the size of today’s walk-in closets. In quarters that close, kids couldn’t wait to move out at 18, even to the shabbiest of apartments.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that every successive generation for the last 100 years has managed to live a better life than their parents. And yet they still go on to better their own life. One could argue that the millennials are the first generation that are really looking to a future that is far worse than the one their parents had laid out for them… Sure worst case scenario in both situations was complete destruction of all life on earth (either because of a cold war, or because of global warming) But baby boomers had a manageable national debt, and the promise of social security, something that isn’t being offered to millennials.

    Baby boomers were looking to a world where nuclear wars were fought, Millennials are looking at a world where no political or national allegiances would save someone from rising sea waters…

    And of course to top it all off, millennials have to deal with constantly being called millennials .. (because clearly the best thing that ever happened to them was Y2K)

    Perhaps we should rag on those folks who didn’t get jobs during the depression…Lazy bastards living off the soup lines… spoiled rotten no reason to get a job… Oh wait, we call them the greatest generation now….. Maybe we just need one good war to switch from “lazy spoiled brats” to “greatest generation II (sometimes greatness skips a generation)”

    Or we could keep looking at job reports that say 15% of people aren’t working and making bold sweeping statements about the generation based on what 15% of them are doing…

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    1. If you pay for news you lose the right to call it an exclusive. Permanent mark against NBC in my book.

    2. Can’t wait to see millennials react when the debt comes due for the government their baby-boomer parents left them.

    • I vaguely recall reading — somewhere — a year or so ago that the baby boomers will be leaving an unprecedented amount of wealth to the subsequent generation. We just have to die first, of course. Don’t get any ideas.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        Keep running the blog and you’ll be fine.

      • Andrew S.

        Increasing longevity will continue to destroy inheritances. Boomers will live longer, are generally not better prepared for retirement than their parents were, and will have access to more (and more expensive) care options as they age.