I have not looked in my notebook(s), legal pads, emails and the pile of dead-tree products on my desk recently, and when I do, I discover:
How news is reported: I was invited to speak to a women’s group Sept. 10. Tuesday mornings are when the A section of the newspaper is completed, but this group meets only on Tuesday mornings, so it was either get as much done as possible before their meeting or don’t go.
One week ago, I had just started speaking to the group when my cellphone went off. Figuring it was something related to the A section, I committed the social faux pas of checking my phone while speaking to someone. Instead of what I expected, it was: “Wanted by Grant [County] Police James Kruger, 36, driving [black] Honda Civic …”
Thus began an interesting, to say the least, morning watching Grant and Iowa county authorities try to capture Kruger as he was accumulating [alleged] felony counts from Platteville to Cassville to Bloomington to Fennimore to Dodgeville and ultimately to Blue Mounds. Proving that sports editors can cover news too, sports editor Jason Nihles posted the ATL (copspeak for “Attempt to Locate”) on our Facebook page. And then after I got back to the office, we sat and waited, listening to the police scanner and checking various social media to see if Kruger would be captured and we could report that before our 1 p.m. absolute final A section deadline.
The events proved that the term “fog of war” doesn’t apply only to war. At one point, Kruger was reported in Holmen, which would have been impossible without an airplane. The dilemma from a reporter’s perspective is how much credence one should give to social media, which reports rumors readily without fact-checking. However, that happens as well with any breaking news event of magnitude, including 9/11 (in which explosions were reported at the State Department) and, a generation earlier, the John F. Kennedy assassination (when Lyndon Johnson was reported to have been shot and to have a heart attack).
Your favorite weekly newspaper didn’t have much about Kruger last week, but in a previous era nothing at all would have been reported until the next edition because that reporting wasn’t possible given the state of technology at the time.
Those in favor, say aye: One of the puzzlements of the Platteville Common Council is why every single vote the council takes is a roll call vote.
Tradition under Robert’s Rules of Order is that roll call votes are taken for matters involving finances, and that makes sense. When the vote doesn’t involve finances, however, it’s hard to understand why a voice vote would not suffice, instead of announcing Stockhausen, Bonin, Kilian, Nickels, Steiner, Denn and Daus on every single vote, even for something as mundane as closing a public hearing or approving a parade permit. (Robert’s Rules of Order specifies that roll call votes can be requested by any member of the elective body.)
The Platteville School Board takes no roll-call votes. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but in a year of covering the School Board, it has always been perfectly obvious when a member opposes whatever’s being voted upon. At the very least, the Common Council could speed up its meetings by taking voice votes on non-financial issues. Aldermen can request roll calls for specific issues, and I find it hard to believe it won’t be obvious when aldermen oppose something.
While we still await the explanation from the council of why the council won’t start meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance …
School’s out: In, well, four decades of being in school, covering school or having children in school, I have never had any connection to a school district that called off classes due to heat … that is, until Sept. 9. Parents don’t expect to get notices that school is called off early in September; that’s the sort of thing you expect between December and, well, the end of school. But for those who answer with a back-in-my-day-the-weather-was-______ response, if kids are distracted from doing schoolwork because their classroom is, to quote the B-52s, as hot as an oven, what is the alternative?
That segues nicely into the answers to our last SWNews4U.com poll question of when school should start:
• Two weeks before Labor Day: 12.
• One week before Labor Day: 21.
• The day after Labor Day: 47.
• Whenever a school district decides (i.e. no statewide start date): 21.
• School should be held all year: 20.
School starts before Labor Day in Iowa. The first week of classes in Dubuque and elsewhere was truncated because of the hot weather. That’s something those who answered anything besides option 3 might keep in mind — if you start school earlier, one of the potential associated costs is air conditioning.
Still, you have to admit that closing school early due to heat is ironic — about as ironic as, say, the son of a high school physical education teacher, whose job obviously promotes health, winning an eating contest. (As in: Isaac Vorwald, son of Maureen, winning his division of the Dairy Days Dilly Bar eating contest. Moderation in all things, as they say.)
Channeling my inner Brent Musburger: While I’ve done a lot in my side thing, broadcasting, until Friday I have never hosted a postgame show. (Before Musburger announced college football on ABC, he hosted CBS-TV’s “The NFL Today,” by the way.) Wally Trouten and I will try to do just that when we follow announcing Richland Center (my father’s alma mater, by the way) and Platteville on WPVL (1590 AM) with hosting High School Football Tonight on WGLR (97.7 FM) Friday night. (The reason has to do with the fact that UW–Platteville is at Lewis & Clark in Oregon Saturday, by the way.)