Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of
principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
-Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911
Things started turning weird here at The Dagger this past week, and after kicking it around amongst ourselves for a few days, we’ve decided to open the books and let you all take a look.
First things first. A group of local businessmen, the prospective developers of the Wetlands Golf Course, bought a roughly $250, bumper sticker-size ad in The Record newspaper today to promote The Dagger.
You might have seen it; if you’re reading us for the first time because of it, welcome. We think these guys are a bit nuts (and we’re sure they think we’re nuts), but after negotiating the details, we decided to let them go ahead (they swore they’d just print our address and slogan, and let us sign off on the proof – they also said they planned to send a worker from the golf course with poor English skills and a wad of cash to purchase the ad at the paper’s office).
While things have been hot here at The Dagger — we’ve registered about 15,000 reads in our first six weeks — we have not made a penny off this blog, nor was that ever the plan. We set up the site for free in early September, and we don’t own the domain name. In fact, what you’re reading right now is actually stored on a server somewhere in the UK. All our stats, which tell us, among other things, how many readers we get in a day, are set to Greenwich Mean Time.
We at The Dagger eyed with suspicion the advances of Sam Smedley, Chris Michel, Tom Simons, and Charles and Ron Benfield. We swore to them that they wouldn’t get a damn thing out of us in return for the ad. But The Wetlands crew insisted they just wanted to get the word out about the blog. In case it’s not perfectly clear, they also want Mayor S. Fred Simmons, council president Mike Hiob, and councilman Dave Yensan reelected and very badly want councilwoman Ruth Elliott out. As a refresher, go back and read our “An ace in the hole” post for our take on another Smedley stunt.
Josh, the steadfast idealist on our crew, warned us two nights before the ad was to run: “Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.”
Chris Michel, Dagger benefactor, told us through email: “We just want fair, honest and accurate reporting on both sides of the issues.”
Maybe we’ll end up with fleas and fair reporting. Who knows? What we got for sure was a perfect item for The Dagger Christmas party: framed copies of a $250 ad for a free blog that ran in a 150-year-old newspaper. Standby for your invite.
Before the go-round with Smedley and company, The Dagger entered the ether earlier in the week when The Examiner tried to hire one or more of us as full-time writers. After we turned that down point-blank, Examiner assistant managing editor Gary Gately asked if we’d like to freelance for the Baltimore daily at $100 to $150 a story. It turns out we’ve been beating his paper to the punch often enough in the last few weeks to put significant heat on their Harford section staff and provoke their editor to make us an offer. Officially, we’re still mulling the idea (we really will call you back Gary). Unofficially, our ombudsman brought the hammer down hard.
Again, here’s Josh from an internal Dagger discussion: “I could not be more opposed to the idea of having any kind of connection with the Baltimore Examiner…The MOST disturbing thing about the Examiner is their treatment of journalists. They are overworked and underpaid, and taking stories from The Dagger puts one of them out of work. Maybe if they actually treated someone well they wouldn’t be scooped by The Dagger. Reporters come into the Examiner, are chewed up, and spit out. There is no regard to the idea of community service, of continuing in-depth coverage of anything. This editor wants to take advantage of your hard work and talent, and use you until it’s no longer convenient. They are EVERYTHING that is wrong with American journalism. What if one of us wanted to take on one of their big advertisers? Or take the paper itself on? Any kind of connection with them puts a shadow on every word and picture in The Dagger.”
(Josh’s pictures, by the way, are coming soon. He’s a brilliant photographer in addition to being our conscience, whom we politely listened to, then disobeyed regarding the Smedley ad. Telling the full, unadulterated story was the only way we could keep him from lighting a bag of poo on our collective front porch.)
This election we’ve set out to cover is 10 days away, but The Dagger doesn’t intend to quiet down afterwards. Send us your story ideas. Tell us what you know or what you want to know. Anything goes. You might try buying us an ad in the local paper, which will at the very least get you in a story explaining how you bought us an ad in the local paper. But don’t expect much more. Because we’re The Dagger and…well, you know the rest.