Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekend incident in Hampden, little reporting, and a negative to our democracy

Buz was struck how the recent incident in Hampden received next to no news scrutiny. Last Sunday night: several dozen police, many streets blocked off, not only to cars, but also to pedestrians, hundreds of residents watching, bunches of them "trapped" in their houses, armed dangerous man in his house with or without hostages, tear gas, police shooting the street lights out, helicopter circling overhead---all for hours.

And nary a peep in the Sun, except a 13-second blurb from its media "partner" WJZ. Oh, and a small piece in the Messenger by Adam Bednar.

Why? Not because people weren't interested: Buz's little blog posting about the incident got more comments than he has ever had before. And it drew a wide range of comments about the incident. I suppose this is the advantage of "web 2.0", but we'd really like to hear more details about the incident: the basics of what really happened, unearthed by a professional reporter, an official statement from the police, what happened during the standoff, what were the charges against what suspect, etc., etc., etc.: did he make bail, what is the bail, what is the trial date,and so forth.
But, nada: all the reporters were off, because the Sun doesn't have enough money to pay them to work on Saturdays, Sunday, holidays, etc. So, just using this as an example, whatever happens on weekends, stays on weekends, just between the police and the thugs and what little the neighbors learn among each other and the few neighborhood bloggers out there.

It's the coming wave. Wal-Mart first featured the race to the bottom, now we're feeling the results of Wall Street's race to the bottom; the democracy suffers from lack of information for its citizens to know about what's going on, and perhaps maybe we would've got a Tweet if we were on Twitter..............but only if the police felt we should. (The Sun had always been a profitable paper, but Craigslist and Wall Street combined to make that not matter). So, of course, we don't need the Sun: we can find out all we need to know on line. Maybe.


Anonymous said...

At some point, Wall Street will tire of trying to squeeze blood from the news-business stone, and maybe then some new organization will be able to get back to the business of reporting news. Hopefully by then someone will figure out how to make the enterprise profitable enough to keep afloat. In the mean time, as David Simon says, it's going to be a new golden age of graft and shenanigans as nobody seems to watch or care what's going on.

PCM said...

As a fellow blogger, I know we are not the answer.

We need a healthy and vibrant press. It's an essential part of American freedom. The more press the better. And yes, in the end, that's true even for police.

buzoncrime said...

I agree with both of you. We need human beings, professional reporters like Peter Hermann, Justin Fenton, and, yes, David Simon, to go out "there" with some risk to themselves, work sources, and tell the rest of us what's going on.

Perhaps the non-profit model will work the best, but as listeners to nonprofit radio stations have found out, and directors of all non-profits know, if money isn't drummed up from someone, the organization will cease to exist. Perhaps the Itunes model might work, where one sets up an account, and pays for the news they want to read about. However, the revenue coming from such a model might be hard to predict, and make it difficult to hire real reporters.

I dunno (a technical term). But as a lifelong news reader, I hope an answer is found.

Anonymous said...

I agree! It's abysmal. I know I don't have the answers. I would be willing to pay to read the paper online if that's what was needed to get real news.

In the meantime, did anyone hear the very loud sound of a shotgun near Hampden last night? It rang out around 7-ish and I haven't seen a word about it anywhere.

Anonymous said...

...The shot sounded like it was near the rotunda.

buzoncrime said...

I've been an avid reader of the Baltimore Sun for more than 50 years, and I don't know the answer either. I still subscribe to both the Sun and the New York Times paper-versions since I am old-school and already spend too much time in front of a computer each day. However, don't hold your breath waiting for a weekend-working reporter to find out anything about anything: there are very few, perhaps at the AP.

AS far as the shotgun blast goes, if you didn't hear a pack of sirens, EMS and police, a few minutes afterward, then it was probably "nothing". Either a person who likes to hear bangs practicing his shooting for next New Year's, or more likely, an M80 firework, or similar.

Buz is amused by two things: the recession/depression doesn't seemed to have affected the folks who apparently still have the money to buy and shoot off illegal fireworks in order to get a kick out of disturbing their neighbors. And Buz is amazed by the apparently huge number of people who go out and buy fireworks and shoot them off, not only on the 4th, but days before and after. For "amusement"; and they do know better than fire officials and doctors, and other "gummint" types who are trying to inhibit their "freedom" to enjoy themselves with a "harmless" activity.

Andymon said...

There's always a large fireworks stand in the mall on Joppa in Parkville, so apparently no one in authority cares, or it's only illegal in the city.

I drove up Rt 80 from Atlanta a few weeks ago and there were two huge, windowless fireworks warehouses by the side of the road. God knows what you could get at those places. Anything short of an 81mm mortar I'll bet.

"Ya'll get blowed up real soon now, ya hear!"

buzoncrime said...

Yes, apparently there's a patchwork of laws, and an inconsistency of enforcement.

I guess I was just trying to be snarky about the hypocrisy of folks who want there to be "safety" and "Law and Order", yet want to choose, for themselves, which laws they think they should obey, or not.

I remember when i was growing up (a couple of years ago) [though some people would say I still haven't, but that's another story], those laws against fireworks were put in place because of a number of serious incidents, hands and fingers blown off, fires set, blinded eyes, etc. Don't remember any specifics. But the bottom line is that people with knowledge of explosives, fireworks, and medical emergencies, and fires, pressured to get those laws passed for reasons. If you don't know what you're doing, with those things, you can hurt someone or yourself. Not to mention folks who deliberately threw them at people for "fun".