Saturday, February 9, 2008

[Daily Barometer] A Columnist Attempts to the Defend the Baro

As soon as I read the first paragraph of this, I started laughing. I knew what was coming. And sure enough, a few paragraphs in:

And no, I'm not going after the old saw that "everyone makes mistakes." While that's true, obviously the whole point is to try to make as few mistakes as possible, especially in the journalism business. What I'm getting at, instead, is that there are actual decisions being made here. Those typos are made by real, fleshly fingers. Folks with names and birthdays answer the phone when you call. These aren't automatons, or even generic authority figures; these are your classmates, and that means you can talk to them. [emphasis added]

Actually, Rachel, I'm sorry, but that's not even remotely true. You call the Baro a "shadowy edifice." That's pretty accurate - and it gets to the heart of the problem. There's no understanding of the Baro by the rest of the OSU community. The Barometer is, and has been, almost completely closed to outside interactions. Sure - readers can submit letters or guest columns, but more often than not, we don't get a response. Often, the only sign we get as to whether or not our submission will appear in the paper is to read the paper and see if it shows up. That's not a normal mistake; that's bad practice.

This year, it's not been the typos that have frustrated readers - it's been the abysmally horrible coverage of even basic events... if they get covered at all. I understand that the Baro is really, really short on staff right now - but have you ever considered that one reason for that is that the Baro staff is a closed clique that does not invite participation? I can attest to this personally, having theoretically provided "oversight" for two years as a member of the near-useless Student Media Committee.


So if you do find yourself with a little extra time and a large desire to talk, don't just complain about your student paper - you are a student. You, personally, can be a key component in fixing what's broken, even if it's just by edging out the stuff you don't like. This isn't my intended future career either, but it is great fun and great practice. I'm amazed by how much I've learned and I'd love to see more people join in.

I think I've addressed this already, but let me reiterate: Just because it looks easy to join from the inside, or just because it was easy for you, doesn't mean that all those folks who criticize without joining the clique are lazy/mean/irresponsible. Maybe the Baro needs to do a little more active outreach to the OSU community, rather than arrogantly and naively wait for people to come to it (or simply expect that a column in the same paper that so many people don't read will have an effect).

Finally, as for the line "don't just complain about student paper" - the Baro is not the student paper of OSU, claims to the contrary notwithstanding. It's (mostly) financially independent, accepting no student fees, and it makes a constant point of claiming to be a professional paper. The Baro staff (and advisor) have long been insistent that the paper is in fact not beholden to students - and if that's the case, it's not a student newspaper. The Baro can't have it both ways. If it wants community participation (above and beyond the new and pretty cool ISOSU column), then it needs to be a genuine member of the OSU community - which means being accessible and responsive to the members of said community. As it stands, it's trying to have its cake and eat it too, and as a result it's starving. The only thing keeping it alive is tradition. If I were an advertiser, I'd be pulling my dollars as fast as possible after seeing the train wreck that the onetime best paper in the nation has become.

On the other hand, Rachel, your suggestion does seem made with genuine hope and goodwill. It would be great if people joined the Baro staff and contributed. It's a lot harder to criticize something you have ownership of.

Hey - maybe that's the deal: The students of OSU don't feel like they have ownership of the paper. Imagine that....

[Overdue Posts] Lebanon to Become a.... College Town?

From the Lebanon Express, an editorial that blew my socks off:

During its history, Lebanon has undergone several changes in identity. The small pioneer community of a century and a half ago became a market town for the surrounding farms as the 20th century approached. Timber fueled the economy from the 1930s through the 1970s. When timber was dethroned by environmental concerns and technology, the town faltered economically and became a bedroom community for cities from Eugene to Salem and beyond. The city's focus on economic development in the past decade is bringing new jobs to Lebanon. Lowe's is by far the largest, but others also contribute to the community.

Now it appears Lebanon's identity will change again. It will become a college town.

The idea of Lebanon as a college town freaks me out. I stared at that last line for a good five minutes when I first read it, just trying to picture it. It didn't work. all fairness, I hear the medical school will be accepting about 50 people each year initially, so it's not like we're talking about a WSU/Pullman style situation here. Two hundred students, a fair percentage of which who will live in Albany or Corvallis? That'll barely make a dent in the short term. What will be more noticeable will be the staff and faculty, at least initially.

In any case, I think this is, on balance, a good thing for Lebanon - at the least, it'll hopefully diversify the local economy a bit.

On the other hand, the college will be destroying farmland, which I consider a bad thing.

I know plenty of Lebanon folks read this - y'all have anything to say about this?

Friday, February 8, 2008

[LCSD] A Very Belated Post on Monday's Board Meeting

What can I say? It's been a long week, and as far as I saw, Monday's board meeting was really boring.

Yeah, I was there - I'm sure a few of you saw me wander in in the middle of one of Rick's stunts.

Thankfully, this one failed. From what I gathered, Rick was a attempting to get an agenda item added for after the post-meeting executive session. Thankfully, it failed - that would have put people there until after 11 PM.... not to mention the fact that since most of the audience would have left, Rick would have had more freedom pull something. I"m not actually sure what he intended to pull, though rumor has it it was something to do with extending the time for negotiations between the LCSD and Sand Ridge.

Regardless, the motion failed, most likely thanks to Debi Shimmin.

Other than that, the meeting was relatively calm by normal standards. I left a bit early, somewhere around the time when they started talking about reading assessments and/or policies.

Of course, I still expect plenty of fireworks from Rick down the road. I don't think he's run out of steam yet.

[UO] If We Could Trust the Boss, This Might Not Be An Issue

From an op-ed in the Daily Emerald down at UO:

Unfortunately, as reflected by their rhetoric, the GTFF leadership's efforts to mandate contracts sometimes get in the way of faculty running our programs to, in our professional estimation, best serve our students' present and future needs.

In other words, graduate students don't know what's best for them, so they shouldn't worry about it and just let the bosses run the place without interference.

Riiiiight. Because that's worked so well in the past.

[OSU] In Which a Poor Student Is Forced to Defend Ignorance as Education

Again from the Baro, this wonderful letter to the editor:


I am not intolerant. What people do in the privacy of their homes is not my business. However, what people push in my face and spend my money on is my business.

Student Health Services has chosen to sponsor a "SEXtravaganza" event, with 10 different events, only one of which deals with abstinence. Furthermore, they have advertised extensively on campus and even on Facebook.

Has what little money I have been used to support a "Masturbation Workshop" and "Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity of Gingerbread Persons & Baking Workshop?"


Jared Hageman

student, pre-communication

OK. He's upset, and believe it or not, I understand that. But there are some real winners buried in this letter (click the link to read the whole thing). Let's look at a few of them:

"I cannot even read the Barometer anymore without being confronted with pictures of people learning how to use condoms or finding expert opinions on how to perform better in bed."

Translation: I really don't like to be exposed to anything that a) might make me uncomfortable or b) might be useful.

Welcome to the world, Jared. It's big and scary and full of things you may not like. Amazingly, this is true for all of us. I, for example, do not like the fact that Bush sits in the Oval Office. Does this mean if I complain he'll go away? Sadly, no. On the plus side, however - and this is key - we do not have to internalize and believe everything we are exposed to. We (and that includes Jared) have amazing ability to consider an idea and then not support it.

There's at least one more thing worth noting in the letter:

"I simply want to be able to get an education without "getting an education." These are the moral values I have chosen..."

Way to imply that a) you have a right to remain ignorant and b) ignorance is actually education! Good job!

Jared, I'm sorry you are being made uncomfortable by all this talk of masturbation and condoms. If you had only given the entirety of the OSU community a list of things that you don't want to be exposed to upon your arrival, I'm sure we could have hidden all the naughty bits for the next four years.

After all, nothing's more important than your comfort. Of course your Special Snowflake status is more important than everyone else on campus.

No one besides straight white dudes ooze this much privilege.

[Corvallis] In Which a Fraternity Fails, Again

From the Daily Barometer:

Fraternities and sororities in the area experience a much greater presence of transient individuals on their properties than most other homeowers in Corvallis. This may be because of the large amount of waste that is produced by living groups and their difficulty with maintaining secure buildings.

The Chi Phi fraternity has experienced problems with having the new homeless shelter across the street.

"We have always had an average amount of homeless people going through our dumpster, looking in our cars and even breaking into the basement to sleep on the couch or going upstairs to take food from our kitchen," said Timothy Zumwalt, a sophomore in Chi Phi majoring in business administration.

"Now it seems like there is always a group of two or three homeless guys hanging around our dumpster, and we have to pay extra attention to our seating areas outside because we have found homeless people drinking or sleeping out there," Zumwalt said.

The fraternity took action by having Capt. Daniel Hendrickson of the Corvallis Police Department visit their house and share some advice on how to prevent and handle any situations that may arise.

Don't you love the unspoken assumption that the people involved are dirty, don't belong, and need to go away? It's almost like they're not even people to the frat members...

While I understand that there may be "situations" in this context, I wonder if it ever occurred to the frat that there is another option besides driving people away? Have they considered actually making useful space for people in need? Providing support (perhaps conditionally based on it not being abused) in terms of a covered place to sleep or even some food? What about - I don't know - cleaning their fracking frat houses up?

I am repulsed by Mr. Zumwalt's comments: Like, can you believe that they want to eat our food?! Why don't they just go get their own? McDonald's is open, like, 24 hours!


It's such a lost opportunity for some compassion (and, to be perfectly cynical, a huge PR boost to the frat). It seems very shortsighted and reactionary.

[Whaaaaa?] Sometimes, it's Best Just Not to Say Anything

From the Daily Barometer's Police Beat:

1:15 p.m., Monday, Feb. 5 - OSU student William Scholten, 25, and 24-year-old Randall Pattee were arrested for delivery of a controlled substance (marijuana) after they tried to mail a nearly 16 oz. package of marijuana via UPS.

I would like to understand the thought process behind that decision.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

[Star Wars] Action Figures That Resemble Celebrities

Probably from Boing Boing.

Only posted about because of the spooky resemblance between Laura Bush and Princess Leia.

That shit is downright crreeeeeeepy, to say nothing what's written about Laura Bush and/or Alderaan/Jedi.

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