Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It was nice having a guest blogger yesterday. And now I have an offer for you. If you leave a comment, I will put your name in a drawing for my reviewer's copy of Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire. You'll just have to give me some way in which to contact you -- your own blog or an email so I can get your snail mail address.
On Monday, I celebrated 26 years of marriage. Please don't ask me where those years went, or how my little babies have become young women. I think we dream of Heaven as an eternity because our lives rush by so fast.
But today's sermon is about the changing face of news-gathering and democracy in 21st century America.
My husband will go in to work this afternoon at the newspaper where he has worked since 1987. He will have to vote on a negotiated contract that contains a 6 percent wage cut, some of it through unpaid "furlough" weeks. Everyone is heaving a sigh of relief that there will be no layoffs (at this time) of a workforce that has shrunk by about 75 percent since Mr. J arrived here.
This is your diminished daily newspaper. And trust me, readers, your politicians local and national, your corporate CEOs, your sneaky lobbyists, they are loving it. No more pesky investigative reporters watching them! Add to this with a groundswell of resentment against government regulations, and you've got a world run by the wealthy few with nary a roadblock in their way!
If you couple the diminution of daily print journalism with the Supreme Court decision that allows corporations to spend all the money they want on political campaigns, you get a serious challenge for the rank-and-file citizenry. Who is going to run this country?
We are. You and me. Let's get busy.
It has already begun. Think back to the recent presidential campaign. What do you remember -- the slick commercials, or that couple in their living room singing about Sarah Palin hanging around with Godzilla? One YouTube gone viral!
If corporations can spend what they want on elections, We the People can post YouTubes, spend nothing, and perhaps deliver a vote.
Net Neutrality on the line? We'll figure out how to bypass it. Many, many fine minds will be on the task in the days and weeks to come, and they will share their discoveries ... for free.
I used to get so upset about WalMart. Giant corporation, mistreating its employees, foisting shoddy goods made by underpaid workers on the lower echelons of our social structure. Guess what, WalMart? We the People are pushing back! Sites like this, "People of WalMart," slap you with a negative image through satire that even Keith Olbermann would be too polite to try.
My daughter The Heir was telling me last night that someone went into the produce aisle at a WalMart, whipped out a little techie device, and took a film of how filthy the shelves and floors looked. Loaded it onto YouTube. "The Aisles of WalMart." More bad press than the store would get on the front page of the New York Times.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet your investigative reporter of the 21st century. It's you, with your phone and your links. Help us, ObiWan IPad, you're the only hope we've got!
Needless to say, my husband and I were talking about the future of print journalism in this century, particularly as it will impact the decade to come. We concluded that newspapers will not disappear entirely, because print journalists, with their reputations, will still be allowed to have interviews with people of interest. If I, as the author of this fine news-gathering site, "The Gods Are Bored," called the Philadelphia Eagles and asked to interview their new quarterback, I'd get hooted off the phone. But my husband, who is a sportswriter for the daily -- that's an entirely different story. He gets the slot.
I am worried about corrupt politicians getting away with murder (anyone who reads Carl Hiaasen becomes particularly paranoid). Well, that's where we all have to step in. A man named Michael Carnock is trying to boondoggle his way into the construction of a huge housing development on the edge of a wildlife refuge in Western Maryland. Google his name, and up come my rants against him and his project. Go to my site and find a link that says "Save a Little Stream." I'm determined that Michael Carnock will never break ground on his development, and so are just a few more people. We're watching him and reporting on his every move -- through a chat group and a web site, and places like this blog.
Pick your battle, reporter. It's time to go to work. Don't feel guilty that you're putting print reporters out of a job. That ship hasn't sailed yet (*knocks vigorously on wood*). But there are fewer print reporters and many more ordinary people with cell phones. Look out for your interests, and act accordingly.