Another sequel; Trump v. the NFL; Skyping with future journalists


By Gary Abernathy - gabernathy@timesgazette.com



More sequels

After Drew Hastings’ trial ended last November with his acquittal, I don’t know about you, but I was exhausted with five years of drama involving the mayor and his enemies.

I was tired of the never-ending barrage of attacks, and tired of Drew’s propensity to provide ammunition. The Times-Gazette will continue to cover the subject — we were the only media outlet to attend last week’s Employee Relations Committee meeting, which was an open forum for Hastings-bashing — but I’m moving on.

What more is there to say? In a December 2015 column called “Drew and the Facebook trap,” I said Drew should stay off social media. In a December 2016 column headlined, “Dear Council: Refocus on Hillsboro,” I urged city council members to stay focused on the issues that motivated them to run in the first place and not get drawn into this kind of spectacle.

But the sequels never end, with the same script, same cast, different year. Bill Alexander’s committee meeting was held on Tuesday of last week. Maybe it accomplished something, but on Thursday city worker Craig Jackson filed a federal lawsuit against the city.

Drew Hastings was not the only one targeted by various allegations in Craig Jackson’s lawsuit – which made claims against other people including a recently-retired city worker who was hired in 1990 under a former mayor — so it looks like Bill might need to consider calling more committee meetings to come up with a few more resolutions expressing council’s displeasure, since that’s what we do now.

The chair of the local Democratic Party (who is one of my favorite people) was on hand for the committee meeting last week, and council elections are coming right up, which is, of course, a coincidence. Personally, I’m sequeled out. I’ll save any further commentary on the subject for after the election. My thanks to reporter David Wright for taking over coverage of city council earlier this year. He’s young, and not as cynical.

But good luck to everyone from here on in. I hear Hollywood is thinking about making yet another Rocky movie as well.

NFL commish ‘evolves’

When NFL player Colin Kaepernick began “taking a knee” during the National Anthem last season, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that people have a right to express their opinion.

But he added this: “We believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that. I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement, and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals. These are all important things for us, and that moment (the National Anthem) is a very important moment. So, I don’t necessarily agree with what he is doing. We encourage our players to be respectful in that time and I like to think of it as a moment where we can unite as a country.”

But after President Trump last week criticized the growing number of players who are following Kaepernick’s lead, Goodell said this about Trump: “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

Nothing about the need for patriotism, nothing about the National Anthem being a “very important moment,” nothing about the need for players to “be respectful in that time.” Pretty amazing evolution, Mr. Commissioner.

The left, of course, is trying to make it all about race. It’s not about race. It’s about all Americans, regardless of race, showing respect for those who served our country — in some cases giving their lives — for the freedoms we all enjoy today.

Enjoyable Skype session

I had the privilege of Skyping (online video conferencing) with a class at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York last week, courtesy of Prof. Samuel Freedman. (In November, I’m traveling there to meet with another of his classes in person.) The main topic was the media’s coverage of President Trump and regions like ours that supported Trump in the last election.

The students had excellent questions and seemed sincerely interested in practicing the kind of journalism that is all too often missing at major media outlets.

Prof. Freedman, who has been a reporter and columnist for the New York Times and contributed to many other publications, is the author of several books, one of which is “Letters to a Young Journalist,” which provides excellent insights for journalists of any age.

Prof. Freedman’s personal politics are quite different from mine, but we share a devotion to a traditional style of news reporting that is all too often ignored today in favor of agendas and sensationalism.

He teaches reporters not to inject their personal views into their news stories. Save that for the opinion pages. He also conveys the fact that journalism can be an exciting career, and that whether it is delivered in print or various digital platforms, the basic tenants of good journalism remain unchanged.

My thanks to Prof. Freedman and his gracious students for the honor of speaking with them and trading ideas for a while.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

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By Gary Abernathy

gabernathy@timesgazette.com