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Archive for July 2009

Reporters offered advice for safe reporting on suicide

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There might some trepidation on the part of reporters to take advice. Some of us tend to think – quite incorrectly – that we know it all. But we can learn things of great value by being open to advice.

Some great advice was offered at this week's Jefferson City Suicide Prevention Conference.

Among the tips for reporters from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center:

1) Avoid detailed descriptions of the suicide, including specifics of the method and location.

2) Avoid romanticizing someone who has died by suicide and avoid featuring tributes by friends and relatives.

3) Avoid glamorizing the suicide of a celebrity.

4) And one which should be obvious but is not – Avoid using terms such as "failed" or "successful" when describing suicide attempts.

The handling of a suicide story might play a role, small though it might be, in preventing someone from taking his or her life. And that's worth being open to a little advice every now and then.

– Steve Walsh

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Written by learfield

July 31, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Mainstream media criticized again – this time from the left

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We hear quite a bit about the so-called mainstream media coming under fire from conservatives … but we come under fire from liberals, as well.

We have blogged, in the past, about the relationship between the mainstream media and the folks out in the blogosphere – some of whom choose to hold onto anonymity – perhaps because they are state employees who fear being "outed" for doing political work on the taxpayers' time and dime. Sometimes the relationship is good and beneficial to all …sometimes it is adversarial.

Be that as it may … an interesting – and odd – criticism was hurled, this week, by the folks at Fired Up! Missouri in a piece headlined: "How Many Embarrassing Failures Will It Take For Roy Blunt's Hometown Reporters to Press for Answers?"

Chad Livengood of the Springfield News-Leader and David Catanese of KY3-TV in Springfield are taken to task for not joining Fired Up! in its almost hourly Blunt bashing binge. Alright … it's not hourly … but it is pretty darned constant and it's hard to find a story on Fired Up! these days that isn't criticism of Roy Blunt – the Congressman from southwest Missouri. Nothing wrong with a blog on either end of the political spectrum going after one person ad nauseum … but we just might have reached the saturation point about 20 posts ago.

Anyway … one of the oddest things many of us noticed in this Fired Up! post was criticism (I guess it was criticism) as Fired Up! suggested Chad used to cover "the politics of football." I e-mailed Chad to ask what that meant … and he was baffled but suggested it might have something to do with some pieces he had written while at Central Michigan University. Whatever the case … the reference was odd and obscure to say the least … and certainly had nothing at all to do with coverage (or lack of coverage) of Roy Blunt.

Chad e-mailed me and gave me permission to use the contents of his communiques if I so desire … and I so desire:

"I find it coincidental that FiredUp would attack Catanese and I on the same day that my story about the DNR e-mails/E.Coli issue would be published and Nixon would be taking tough questions from reporters in Kansas City and Springfield."

Catanese fired back on his Twitter feed Wednesday night:

"Can't wait to see @FiredUpMissouri </FiredUpMissouri> press for answers on @ChadLivengood </ChadLivengood>'s E.coli story. Odd they aren't serving their readers on a big story."

Good point … but David and most news consumers know that Fired Up! exists as a propaganda tool – not a legitimate source of news. And there's nothing wrong with that! The point is we really shouldn't expect any partisan blog to be objective in reporting the important news stories of the day. These blogs exist to further various causes … and will report nothing that harms those various causes. Again, that is the nature of the beast – on both sides of the political spectrum – and there is nothing wrong with it.

What might not be positive is the fact that if you go to that Fired Up! post today … there is NO sign of the "politics of football" reference. It has disappeared from the blogosphere just as fiscal responsibility has disappeared from government. It's as if the reference has never existed … with no reason given as to why it was removed. Strange … very strange.

– Steve Walsh

Correction: Sean at Fired Up! Missouri was kind enough to send an e-mail inform me of an editor's note on the FU!M post regarding the "politics of football" comment.  The note explains there was a "politics of football" reference which was taken out.  Thanks to Sean for setting the record straight.

– Steve

Written by learfield

July 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Ed Martin considering run for Congress

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Ed Martin for Congress? Can it be? Well … maybe.

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The man who served as Chief of Staff to Governor Matt Blunt has set up an exploratory committee to consider running for Missouri's 3rd Congressional District seat, which is currently held by Democratic Congressman Russ Carnahan. The district takes in Jefferson and Ste. Genevieve Counties as well as parts of the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

A press release issued on Wednesday makes it clear Martin is going after Carnahan on the incumbent's record:

"The people of the 3rd District are a critical economic engine for America," said Martin. "These workers and families want leaders who will stand up for them for jobs, lower taxes, less spending and a government that lives within its means. What has become clear is that Congressman Carnahan is not listening to – or speaking for – the people he promised to represent. Examples include his voting record for the so-called ‘stimulus’ bill, for a massive national energy tax, and his public advocacy – in lockstep with Speaker Nancy Pelosi – for a disastrous government takeover of health care which will lead to rationing and endanger Medicare. I have always stood up for what I believe in and I'm considering running for Congress to make a difference by standing up for our neighbors and fellow citizens in the district."

Martin says he set up the exploratory committee after receiving encouragement from friends, neighbors, and people in the district.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

July 29, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Central Missouri Honor Flight Ball for WW II veterans scheduled for October in Columbia

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Back in May we did a piece on the Central Missouri Honor Flight Network, which flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Memorial. And you were told about how money is raised for these Honor Flights to allow those who fought for our freedom to travel to the Nation's Capital and return – the same day – without cost to the veterans.

If you haven't helped out (yet) you're going to get another chance. A friend has informed me the 2009 Central Missouri Honor Flight Honor Ball is scheduled for Saturday, October 17th at the Holiday Inn Select Executive Center in Columbia, with cocktail hour running from 5:30 to 6:30 and dinner scheduled for 6:30.

The banquet speaker is Retired U.S. Marine Captain Dale Dye – a Cape Girardeau native who graduated from the Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, before surviving 31 major combat operations in Vietnam – bringing home three Purple Hearts for combat wounds. He won numerous other honors, including the Bronze Star for Valor.

Not only is he a war hero … but he's a director, actor, writer, film and television consultant. He's authored several books, including Platoon and Conduct Unbecoming.

Ticket information will be available in a couple of days … at 573-289-3799.

It should be noted there will be a cash bar … which might scare off some of the politicians thinking of attending (just kidding)… but keep in mind it's for a great cause as money raised helps send veterans to Washington.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

July 29, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Former US House Speaker honors three state lawmakers fighting Medicaid fraud

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A special day in St. Louis for three members of the General Assembly as they were commended for their role in fighting Medicaid fraud. The honor came from none other than former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich – founder of the Center for Health Transformation.

State Representative Brian Yates of Lee's Summit was joined by Senators Scott Rupp of St. Charles and Eric Schmitt of Glendale and they were applauded for making Missouri the first state in the nation to make it possible for anyone to find – online – what a provider charged for any health care service covered by Missouri's Medicaid program – MO HealthNet.

Yates and Rupp sponsored HB 577 … while Schmitt added language creating the MO HealthNet Data Transparency program.

Speaker Newt had a lot of praise for the legislation, calling it a pioneering bill. He went on to express hope that the General Assembly comes back next year and builds on this achievement … which he calls important for the country.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

July 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

House Budget Chair set to officially kick off campaign for Auditor

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His initial announcement came some time ago … June 15th to be precise … but House Budget Chair Allen Icet of Wildwood is only now ready to officially launch his campaign for State Auditor.

He'll do it with a kick-off rally on Thursday at the Genesis Banquet Center in St. Louis.

Icet was the first Republican to announce hopes of defeating Democrat incumbent Susan Montee in November of 2010. He has since been joined by Tom Schweich, a Washington University in St. Louis law professor and former special U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan … and a protege of former U.S. Senator and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth.

A question that begs asking … Is there a difference between officially announcing and officially kicking-off a campaign?

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

July 27, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Note to Ameren: There is settlement west of St. Louis County

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Word came down on Friday that AmerenUE, the state's largest electric utility, had scheduled a news conference for 2 o'clock that afternoon. The Missourinet newsroom was not notified. I just happened to run into AP's Chris Blank at the Capitol and he informed me of the event.

It turned out this news conference was scheduled to announce AmerenUE's request to the Public Service Commission for an 18 percent rate increase.

After rushing back to my desk at the world headquarters of Learfield Communications I called Ameren's Jefferson City communications guy, Mike Cleary, to ask why we were left out. Mike didn't know … but pointed out that Ameren had sent notices to the St. Louis area media and must have forgotten us. He apologized and I accepted … but I made it clear we weren't happy being ignored – for two reasons: 1) We are a statewide radio network with a lot of Ameren customers among our listeners, and 2) Jefferson City is in the Ameren network.

Mike promised he would have somebody contact us … and he made good on his promise … as Ameren's communications guy in St. Louis – Tim Fox – called shortly after the news conference had ended. He had, at his side, AmerenUE President and CEO Warner Baxter who was available for an interview. I felt compelled to tell both gentleman (as I had told Mike Cleary during my earlier call) that we were disappointed Ameren seemingly believes there is nothing but a vast wasteland west of St. Louis County … and it's not worth the time and effort to inform the folks there – AMEREN RATEPAYERS, I MIGHT ADD that the company wants to raise rates by 18 percent.

This kind of thing happens on a regular basis with national news coverage. If people in the Midwest are collapsing and dropping dead during a heat wave … it is mildly interesting. But when the heat reaches New York or Washington … Wow! Now we have a story! I worked with those people during the eight years I lived in the Nation's Capital. If it happened in the hinterland – west of the Potomac River – it didn't really matter. It appears what we have with St. Louis folks is a miniature version of the stupidity that exists on the national level.

Just as so many East Coast residents evolve … so must the people who believe St. Louis is the center of the universe. Hey, Ameren … you don't give those of us outside the center of your universe breaks on the rates we pay … so try showing a little bit of courtesy and respect the next time you decide to announce you want a double digit rate hike during a recession.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

July 24, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized