Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Local News: A Lost Cause Says Rheta Johnson

Do you love to read Rheta Grimsley Johnson? We do. No, we don't always agree with her ultra liberal politics, but we deeply appreciate her down home writing. After all, she hangs her hat in Iuka, so she has to be someone worth reading. Her column this week concerned the loss of printed news four days a week in Mobile, Birmingham, and Huntsville. Like Ms. Johnson, we lament the actions of the Newhouse group that owns these former bastions of print.

What we didn't agree with was her take on lost local news. She compared news gathering via Twitter to sending a cocker spaniel to purchase groceries. We say: Thank God for blogs and local Internet magazines. Let's look at some local stories the TimesDaily either failed to cover or dropped the ball on.

* Most recently, our local rag failed to mention the UNA candidate in the Miss Alabama contest. How does something like that happen? Wait...we know. The one-size-fits-all article was written in Decatur where they apparently think the Shoals is some mythical parallel universe.

* Local Colbert County Commission candidate Troy Woodis was recently profiled in The Connection concerning his wage garnishments. After the online magazine leaked the story, the TD did something of a follow-up and referred to the original source as "social media" while leading readers to believe the garnishment was totally for unpaid business purchases. Didn't they think it was important that Woodis also owed thousands in back child support?

* Former Lexington resident Keith McGuire lost his teaching license last year after the Alabama Board of Education declared him guilty of rape, among other things, and morally unfit to teach. You would have thought since his rape trial had been held in Lauderdale County that the TD would have covered this. Nope.

* The death of acclaimed local writer Margaret Phillips? No, nothing on that from the TD.

* The death of former TD editor Fred Dillon? We believe you're smart enough to have guessed no TD coverage on that one either.

The above are just some examples of the TD's failure to report. There are many more of the TotallyDecatur's production of some highly sanitized versions of important news stories. In other words, if you think cheerleading is only present in athletic venues, think again.


We've added Brave Mable to our sidebar today. Mable is the artistic offspring of Amy Collins. If you missed Amy's blog on Walmart, be sure to check it out: Link

We've also added a Flickr link to some very telling photographs of the Sweetwater ruins taken 14 months ago.



  1. I used some of Ms Greens photos a while back on a Sweetwater thread. She was on the Sweetwater facebook page until then,... they blocked her after that.

    1. Very telling actions on their part...

      Her photos of Sweetwater are included in the groups labeled: Once Was Home, Southern Decay, Rust & Ruins, Beautifully Ruined, Rural Decay, and Alabama Abandoned.

    2. On Rheta Grimsley Johnson - my take: Rheta's column as printed in the TimesDaily Tuesday, June 12, 2012 is bemoaning the loss of journalistic application in daily newspapers. As a trained journalist, Rheta is making observations on a call she and other journalists made some years ago regarding the long standing use of educated reporters and writers in bringing local, national and worldwide news and events into our lives through newsprint media being engulfed by electronic reporting.
      The WorldWideWeb is gaining ground long held by the likes of Horace Greeley - journalist and publisher, Ben Bradlee - executive editor of the Washington Post, Ernie Pyle - syndicated war correspondent during WWII, Thomas Paine - a founding father of our United States as well as author and printer of Common Sense, everyman's pamphlet and forerunner of newspapers which quickly found roots following America's freedom from English rule. Just a sampling of the influential journalists in the U.S. since the 1770's.
      On a more personal level? The Lewis family who owned the Florence Times - Tri Cities Daily before news syndicates swallowed small town papers a few decades ago. Add the Florence Herald and The Picture, published by the Shipper family and focusing more on local color and human interest stories.
      Consider this: A. PeeWee - your bicycle riding newspaper boy from the 40's on. He's already history but if you subscribe to a daily rag in your hometown or a national paper - someone delivers those to your home, local stores and gas stations as well as the coin operated newspaper box. Those jobs will be cut back or cut out.
      B. Recall the Woodward and Bernstein coverage of 'Deep Throat and the Watergate' scandal delivered to us via The Washington Post, in serial form as each new clue or bit of evidence surfaced? The long awaited Warren Report? Stark, Bold type face bringing events near and far to your doorstep.

    3. C. The facets of your local paper to which you've become accustomed. (1) Store ads and flyers in the Sunday edition, mostly. (2) Grocery ads which used to appear in Wednesday's edition. (3) Local high school ball scores - football games covered in the Saturday edition. Basketball, baseball & softball coverage of your or your neighbors children's teams.(4) Box scores for MLB; division standings for NFL and NBA. (5) coverage of the Masters and U.S. Open Golf Tourneys (6) local fishing tourneys which bring so much recognition and revenue to our area. (7) The Community Calendar alerting us to the many cultural, social and educational events. (8) Obituaries
      Perhaps the first paragraph of an obit on dailies issued by such historied papers as The New Orleans Times - Picayune and other publications in print for over two centuries is currently being written.
      Hang onto those yellowed bits and pieces of newsprint your parents clipped and placed in the cedar chest or family Bible.
      As a long time reader of Rheta Grimsley Johnson in the now defunct Birmingham Post Herald which was published in the morning ( The Birmingham News in the evening ), The Atlanta Constitution, The Mobile
      Press Register and now, more recently in the Times Daily, I join her dirge for the daily newspaper albeit as a reader.
      I now long for the luxury of the card catalog files made of sturdy oak at the library as well as the myriad of books filling shelves. They've been replaced by electronic file paths on computer kiosks and books, books!! replaced by electronic versions which may be signed out or purchased and downloaded onto handheld screens relieving us the luxury of opening hardbacks, noticing the softening of paper from many readers before us and the joy of leaving the library with a stack of printed books to take us places, introduce us to new friends whom we dread leaving as the number of remaining pages dwindles, and teach us what we did not know nor regret for not having such knowledge at an earlier time.
      I am happy to say I knew Norman Zumwalt, Mel Newman and Jennifer Crossley - all previous reporters for The Times Daily as well as current writers Robert Palmer, Mike Goens, Dennis Sherer,and yes, I look forward to Tuesdays and Rheta's column.
      Shoalanda, my good friend, you missed the pirogue on this one. Listing Rheta's local proximity as reason for reading her column is akin to our local rag being readable due its geographical locale.

    4. Very well put. No matter the deficiencies of the TD, we hope it will continue to publish seven days a week. That being said, we do enjoy "The Quad-Cities Daily" and "The Connection" online. If any readers haven't visited our links on the left sidebar, we suggest they do so now.

  2. Agreed, the current version of the Times Daily is sadly lacking in many areas. Nothing new, as many local events and crimes were published in the Birmingham papers in the 70's and nary a word in the Times. I enjoy The Connection, The Quad Cities Daily and other local blogs as well, just fervently hoping I am gone before newsprint and books disappear. I know Shoalanda and other local media will keep the Shoals informed and up to date.

  3. Who decorated the interior of that Sweet Water? All that tacky stuff makes it look like a flea market inside. Mrs. Weeden would roll in her grave. On second thought I wouldn't want to put anything nice in there either because of the obvious leaks. I'm surprised the fire marshall lets anyone go inside it at all.

    1. As we understand it, tours are not allowed upstairs where there still may be leaks and unsafe conditions; however, some locals made a horror movie utilizing the upstairs. I imagine they had to sign a release before filming. I also imagine Mrs. Weeden would not have condoned the movie made in what was once her lovely home.