Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Explaining the process ...

I find myself in an interesting position.

Due to this column, my web site, NiagaraBuzz.com, and – of course, my role at WLVL as host of the morning show Dialog, I am blessed with a voice that not many people in the area have.

And with great power comes great responsibility ... Spiderman taught me that.

So I'm trying to use caution and due diligence when it comes to the upcoming election.

See, here's the thing: You all know my stance on things. You should, at least. I'm a people person – and by that, I don't mean that I do well at parties. I mean, I want what's best for “the people.” The most people possible. I'm a populist, you couuld say.

And I want to see the people that I support get elected in November. I want the people that I think are going to do a good job to represent me and you ...

And I could – very easily – tell you who you should vote for. I could make endorsements ... much like local newspapers do.

In fact, when I worked for Greater Niagara Newspapers, I was an on-again / off-again member of the editorial board, the little group that decides the newspapers official opinion on matter. Now, it may be worth noting that, more often than not, I was the voice of dissent, but that's another column for another day.

Anyway, it's not that I don't have experience in recommending to people what they should do ... or who they should vote for.

But I'm not going to do that this year. Not in my column. Not on my radio program. Not in person. I am throwing my endorsement to the process. I want you all to familiarize yourself with the issues and make up your own mind on who you should empower. You may elect all the people I want. You may vote for all those I disagree with. Odds are, it'll be a split bill. We'll agree in spots and not in others.

Another way I'm trying to NOT effect the election is by bringing political candidates onto Dialog in pairs. In other words, if a candidate for seat A wants the opportunity to talk with Dialog listeners and callers, the other candidate for seat A must come along as well.

This strategy will be interesting, I must say. If you want to keep your opponent from being on Dialog, all you have to do is not go on yourself.


Now, some people have said that I'm not being fair if one person wants to go on and the other refuses.

“That's not how J.R. Reid did it,” I've heard.

Okay, first of all ... I'm not J.R. Reid. I thought that had been duly cleared up.

In fact, my policy is – in-part – due to J.R. and the last election. I recall people griping that so-and-so got a better day that what's his name. Or Billy Bob was on closer to the election that Billy Rae.

I'm not having that. All or nothing, folks.

However, in an attempt at fairness, I'll be sure to note who wanted to come on and who didn't want to take questions from Dialog callers ... or from myself.

I'm not going to make a HUGE deal out of it, but I am going to start a list on my web page saying who offered, who declined, and who just couldn't figure out how to call me back.

And you can take that list with you to the polls and it will tell you who doesn't endorse Dialog. And maybe that will help you to make up your mind.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Welcome to the light ...

I must admit, I find myself in an unusual situation.

Most often, I'm the “token liberal” or the most liberal person within a group. I look around and compared to the rest of the crowd, I'm ultra-left wing.

Now, I've spoken of this fallacy before. I'm not left-wing. I'm a centrist. A moderate. (of course, don't we all think we're moderate and everyone else is crazy?)

Anyway, based on the people who call my show and some of the comments I get from them, you'd think I was so far left I was Communist (of course, some people actually think I am).

So a few months ago when Chuck Richardson approached me about a progressive web site he was hoping to put together with the help of another friend of ours, Pat Lowther, I thought it sounded like a good idea and I offered to help with logistics if it would be possible.

When a few days later, I was released from my duties with Greater Niagara Newspapers, I told Chuck I'd be able to help more than I thought – and as such, I joined the pair of trouble makers – miscreants – whathaveyou – in their endeavor to build the perfect web site.

To be fair, the amount of help I've so far given could be measured as slim to none, but I'm into the concept of telling news in a more telling fashion – if that makes sense.

Too often, I think the news business is constrained by rules which prevents them from really telling the story. A reporter for most news agencies can't say in a story whether or not they believed their subject in the course of an interview – they can only prevent facts and allow the reader to “pick up” on whether the subject is telling the truth.

Unfortunately this method is far from fool proof. First of all, the reader isn't really “there” and the best writer in the world can only make them fell like they're there. They can't actually put them there – so tone, inflection, body movement – is for the most part lost. These things are key in “reading” people.

You'll notice that NiagaraBuzz.com articles have some of these details in them .. and whether or not we buy into what the subjects are saying.

But, hey, I'm getting off track here.

So Chuck and Pat looked around and found some other interested people in putting together NiagaraBuzz.com. And they're a fine group of people. But looking at them, I realize that I'm the (gasp) conservative in this group.

Ack. That's crazy. Me being the conservative in any group is both scary and ... no, I guess it's just scary.

Now, I've had a page on MY web site for a while now specially reserved for Chuck. I called it Left of Leffler – because, well, because he is. In fact, sometimes Chuck scares me too, but that's another column for another day.

No, here's what you should get out of this today: Diversity is good and NiagaraBuzz.com is abound in it. From my pro-business POV to Chuck's “down with the corporation” standpoint ... Bob's environmentalism ... Jared's poetry ... Avis' flair ... Alex's web savvy, and C. Roberts Abel's sheer ability to take a complex subject and break it down to an understandable level, you're in for a treat.

We're not your grandmother's web site – and we're not a typical news source – no, we're better on both accounts, and I'm sure you'll agree in the end. And while we make take some getting used to, once you do – you won't want to log off.