Monday, August 9, 2010

The Dog Days of Blogging

Bloggers and those who leave comments seldom have anything nice to say about anyone or anything, but that's okay. No one wants to be thought the political equivalent of a sports writer and get accused of being a homer or sucking up to power, so complaining becomes an art form with criticism and sarcasm flow freely upon public institutions and public figures. Sometimes it appears to be jaundiced cynicism, and sometimes it appears deserved commentary meant to correct the errors and improve things for the polis.

There are signs that bloggers and their readers might not really care, much less be up to the real responsibility of government and public affairs. Take, for example, the two best news sources in Northwest Arkansas -- the Fayetteville Flyer and Ozarks Unbound. Both have recently provided information about openings on Fayetteville city boards and commissions, including those on Environmental Concerns and on Tree and Landscape. How many reader comments on the Flyer? None. How many reader comments on OU? Zip. What about the upcoming races for City Council? Ozarks Unbound has an informative article with zero comments, tied with nada on the Fayetteville Flyer article.

Does the dearth of reader response reflect a lack of interest in public service, or is actually getting involved not worth the time to comment? An article on chicken wings drew 23 comments on the Flyer, so that gives you some idea about their readers' relative hierarchy of interests. But it is not just the wired kids who seem disinterested in political involvement. The only contested race for county office this fall in Benton and Washington Counties is a race for Washington County Assessor, where seeking a sinecure is far more central than implementing ideology of government. Meh.


  1. When civic minded people step up to the plate for community improvements you just tear them to shreds.

    Tracy Hoskins has good plans for Highway 112 improvements to eliminate that suicide curve and you attacked him like wild dogs.

    Now that you've made your bed sleep in it.

  2. I can say that all of the stories you linked to were moderately viewed. I like to think folks know about their civic options at least.

    After years of traditional journalism, I'm for giving readers what they want, not what "we" think they should have - traditional "meat and potatoes" government coverage.

    Trend reporting that respects and invites the reader's opinion seems the most popular ... that and features (such as Best Wings, Great Lunch Places, etc).

    I'm still navigating it myself. My ultimate goal remains what it has been since the beginning - create an authentic editorial voice (one among many) and find a way to financially sustain it.

  3. Tracy Hoskins? Please. Without even looking, I am certain that Mr. T has a project which will also benefit greatly from such an "improvement."
    I find the people that bang the hardest on poor-folk getting some kind of gov. welfare, are first in line to cash "their" social security checks...Don't believe Mr. T. is any different. If he (or anyone else) gets a gov. subsidy, let us see a full accounting. The days of "get whatever you can" should be over." On the other hand, who would object to a reasonable profit?
    Not sure what the answer is to chicken wings vs. public participation. There is a history of those who stick their heads above the parapet get it shot off.
    But then, folks would to care enough to even notice that as well.

  4. Anonymous 3:57 PM--
    I did look at Mr. Hoskins' plan for his development on Highway 112. It was a great idea, contributing some $2 million in direct value to the city, plus the value to the city and state of time saved on construction, and money saved on right-of-way acquisition and engineering-- plus the immeasurable value of improved safety. He would eventually have made a reasonable profit, but his contribution to the highway was up-front.

    It's a shame you didn't look into the proposal in January 2009, as you might well have joined me as one of the few thoughtful voices in favor of the deal. Fayetteville really lost out by going against it.

    There is civic-minded and there is civic-minded, but here we agree. Did you voice any support for the proposal when it was being discussed?

  5. Monroe Jesuser, Jr.August 10, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    Not that we've always agreed, Mr. Franks, but on this one I did support and vocally. Too bad it didn't go through. Of course Mr. Hoskins would have made some money eventually. That's why they call it "investment". But I guess the timing was just not good.

    One may not agree with Mr. Hoskins, but it seems he's always been up front about the things he works on. At least he hasn't left another hotel eyesore on a downtown corner, and a path of financial destruction in his wake like some other developers who went too far, too fast and then left Fayetteville holding the bag when things went bad.

    Just my opinion. To which their own everyone has the right.

  6. Dang-- I hope my lovely wife doesn't see this. It makes her nervous when I'm agreeable.

  7. Mr. Hoskins' Hwy 112 proposal provided only meager benefits to the city. As I recall, the traffic counts at the time were well below 7000 vehicles per day (that's not many) and the accident rate was near/below average. A new road wasn't needed. It appears to me that the main purpose of the proposal was to double the highway frontage of Mr. Hoskin's property - with the city picking up the tab. To my amazement, city council didn't fall for it.

  8. Anonymous 11:19 PM--

    You apparently didn't do enough research on the matter. I did.

    A new road "wasn't needed", yet they're going to build one, it will cost substantially more, it will take considerably longer to complete, and it will still have two sharp corners instead of two gradual curves.

    (I know that you're not Mrs. Franks. My lovely wife posts about subjects on which she is knowledgeable.)

  9. So many folks owning their thoughts and opinions today.
    Very refreshing...:)

    Skip Descant

  10. This is far too jovial for me. I much prefer the bitching on the Flyer. With few exception such as Franks and Jesuser, they are against everything, which is quite amazing, considering that they are responding to news articles instead of slanted editorial blogging.

  11. Thank you 12:08.
    If people are really intent upon "making nice," they need to find something else to do rather than (what passes locally for) journalism.

    Then there's what happens to real journalists: