Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Victoria Advocate - My Perspective After The "Town Hall"

Dummy, You're Supposed To Put The Potato In The Front! was the original title I chose for this one.......duh......
Don't ask......just call it an attention getter title. This is really likely going to be a long rambling dissertation of my opinion of The Victoria Advocate's state of ship. Fair warning for those who are looking for a risque' post or a dirty joke.

I suppose I should start by saying that I am quite thrilled with our little(but growing)renegade bunch over here on Blogger. As much as I miss the original blogs, and disapproved of the new anyone can blog format, I am proud and honored to be part of a group like Edith Ann, The Grey-Beard Loon, Sugar Magnolia, and The Truth Ferret. I now have met them all, and having put faces and names with their words, has convinced me that they are all accomplished writers and dedicated to putting out entertaining and informative work that an honest measure of thought and EDITING has gone into, before it gets published. What a concept.
If not for having read The Advocate print edition, back when is was a respectable and well laid out and edited (carefully, and for correctness edited)feature articles and daily online blogs by The Grey-Beard Loon, I likely would still be walking around with a pocket full of ideas and "notes to self" on scraps of paper, cocktail napkins, and such, having yet to figure out what to do do with it stands, before the Advocate pulled the plug on my blog, I was nearing six hundred or so stories/blogs of my own under my belt, with a lot of nice comments, and attaboys, and a few dissenting or outright in my face disagreeing comments. What finally got to me, was the new "editor's" tinkering with the blogs and forums to the point that it opened them to any bozo that could write down and remember a password, whether they could spell, make a sentence, or for that matter were required to at the very least, submit something that indicated a minor degree of literacy on their part. Yup, I think he just said "Myspace!, now there's a good model, let's go with that". If you are a reader of any length of time, you fall into one of two categories: either you are proud of your "wall" and your ability to write essentially unnoticed(unless you dare to disagree with Advocate policy), whatever comes to mind, no matter how illiterate or grade schoolish or angry in tone it is, or you are one of us scratching your head, and wondering WTF? How did it get to this point.........?

I went along with the changes, even after my pal the "loon" was squeezed out, both of his feature article writer job with the print edition, and then unceremoniously, had his blog pulled(in the days before Herr Cobler instituted his banishment ritual). I pissed and moaned, likely setting in motion, the events that finally got me banned from participating in the Advocate "experience". So for those of you who attended last night's "town hall" or caught the print story of it, please, when you read the part where Mr. Cobler says "we welcome your online participation"........take those words with a grain of salt. The truth is, he welcomes bullshit accolades from various "associations of fellow dying print news folk", and anything remotely resembling praise from "readers". If however, you see fit to criticize his "editing" or anything or anyone of the kids that he micromanages as "editor", and if you do it long enough, your unpaid writing career with the Vicad will be sent to "sleep with the fishes".

I know good people who work for the Advocate, who are happy to have the job they do. To the credit of those whose function and output falls under the scrutiny of myself and others here who have issues with your work, please listen to us, and at least consider what we are saying or suggesting. Know that if we take exception with your product, that there is a guy there who should as editor, be pointing out your errors, and encouraging you to do better, rather than just saying "we are human - we make mistakes" and giving lip service to the public, and blowing smoke in the eyes of the owners, rather than doing what an editor is supposed to and crack his whip and demand accuracy. Mr. Cobler needs a "The buck stops here" plaque on his wall, and he needs to take it to heart.

The Advocate on a daily basis(both print and online), is rife with misspellings, errors, sensationalist headlines, and half baked stories, written by folks who never left their chair on Constitution St., but rather depended on word of mouth phone calls, e-mails, and Twitter accounts of what actually happened. Can I prove this? NO, but if you don't believe it, just follow a few online versions of various "news" stories, and watch as they are updated and corrected repeatedly until they are somewhat accurate, then die or are replaced by the next story. It all boils down to final editing, and accountability for the product that hits the streets. From where I sit, it does not look like a good product, or at least anywhere near for the last three years, like the paper I have read since 1959.

Am I going to quit reading it? What do you think? Of course not. It is my hometown paper, and the one that lands in many of my dear friend's and family's driveway daily. I was fortunate enough to have some of my thoughts and words published there for a time. But being banned from participating is not going to stop me from using The Advocate as my source for hometown news.

All of that said, I will say that being banned by the Advocate, was something I asked for and fully expected. I took exception to the angry, illiterate hateful rants of a particular blogger commenter, that I personally feel was responsible for wrecking the integrity and atmosphere of the blogs and online forums. Before he showed up with his gibberish and hideous butchering of the English language, my posts and comments were by and large, pretty benign and boring and corny. I took exception to this angry person's bullshit and when he pissed in the pool, I was content to go into a kamikaze dive at him and do my best to help get him off the site, knowing well and good that it would cost me my place in line. So be it - he's gone. From what I see of late, it is still a free for all, albeit a much lighter hearted and civil one.

As far as the product that comes out of the Advocate daily, I along with many others, will just have to be content to try to make our voices heard, and hope for the best I guess.