Like most things in life, good and bad, The Dagger started off innocently enough.
On September 7, 2007, the first introductory story, a two-paragraph piece aptly titled “Introductions,” was posted onto the Internet. Despite being called an introduction, the story posed more questions than it answered.
Today, September 7, 2008, we hope to finally answer some of those lingering questions as we celebrate The Dagger’s anniversary with some laughter, some tears and enough behind-the-scenes details to hopefully keep us relevant for another year.
That first month we had nine stories written by four authors covering such topics as: a Sept. 11th hip hop artist CD release duel; a purposefully-scuttled tennis match in which I was a willing participant; the size of former delegate Chuck Boutin’s head as seen in a local grocery store; the shocking corollaries between a boring CEO speech and a German military blitzkrieg; when and where it’s OK to sleep at work; tales from a six-man, three-day, single-hatchet camping trip; photos of a mayor’s vandalized billboard; and a piece I wrote that began: “This is a story about hotdogs and why they are occasionally given out for free.”
Three weeks into our existence and we had already hit our stride. We haven’t looked back since, but thought our first birthday might be as good a time as any to do so.
We’ve put some time, effort and heart into bringing you this special Dagger anniversary package and we would be thrilled if we got at least one of those three back from you in return. This is your story as much as it is ours.
Favorite Dagger Characters
You can’t have a story without characters and, fortunately, we’ve met a few memorable ones on The Dagger during the last year. Here are some of our favorites:
Punisher – Lean, mean and apparently from Aberdeen, this vigilante had a serious axe to grind with the city police force and wasn’t afraid to use it. Current whereabouts are unknown.
Memorable Quote: “so many of you like to talk out of school looks like its time for the teacher to teach”
Dell – This international man of mystery keeps a low profile, but seems to always resurface just in time for a well-placed political zinger or Monty Python quote.
She’s got cankles and Spiderveins!
Fell asleep, on a bench
Wake her up you photo-mensch!
Here comes the spiderveins!
Is she strong?
she’s got Geritol in her blood.
Tales to tell, just for you
(which will have a really great catch line, like how she smuggled peaches to the POW camps in WWII right under Gerry’s nose and then helped an American aircrew escape, but she always falls asleep right in the middle of the story and you feel really bad about trying to wake her up so you just cover her up with the old afgan that she always has thrown over the back of that loveseat that you always thought smelled like menthol cigarettes, even though nobody ever smoked in her house)
Here comes the spiderveins!
I miss my grandma…”
Dagny – A series of increasingly bizarre quotations and a growing challenge to make Matt read more books turned Dagny into an ultimately unforgettable, although decidedly short-lived, Aberdeen election era character.
Memorable Quote: “What happens to Ragnar? He keeps his money for a bit longer, but the compromises that he made in order to follow John will haunt him forever. He temporarily lost his way, BLANK OUT but he knows that when he falls, the ‘mystic’ spirit will be there to forgive him, pick him up, and once again put a crown on his head. Why? Because God or as Ayn lables him, “the mystic spirit” loves us unconditionally.
AND this is where I will remain until Nov. 6”
Vietnam Vet – A true original and something of a living legend among Dagger regulars. Vet’s no-nonsense demeanor and street-level view of Aberdeen have been around since the beginning and hopefully will be around until the end.
Memorable Quote: “yes daddy.Iam most certainly a decorated vietnam vet. and (0331) meaning machine gun specialist. I speak very little about the decorations.it’s not something to be proud of. men died because of them.”
RichieC– Where to begin? This guy has single-handedly set Dagger records for Most Comments, Most Consecutive Comments and Most Consecutive Comments Addressing Himself. What’s more, he not only uses his real and full name, but he’s also posted his home address, phone number, email address and on occasion even offers to meet other Dagger readers to show them in person what he’s talking about. He might be a little rough around the edges and he certainly needs to learn where the spell check button is on his computer, but you have to admire his gumption. I mean, he’s actually admitted to having someone read Daggerstories to him over the phone while he’s on the road driving and then dictated his comments and responses back to whatever poor soul was on the other end of the line! RichieC can be a crude, rude and downright lewd dude, but we wouldn’t change him even if we could – and believe me, we’re asked to on a regular basis.
Memorable Quote: “Remember its not about boats its about free speech and those who would silence it!”
Favorite Dagger Moments
You’ll hear more of these moments as you read on, but here are a few that came immediately to my mind:
– Just a few weeks ago, The Dagger broke a story about the state not completely funding the Conroy Scholarship, which led to children of fallen officers and war veterans not receiving the college tuition help they were promised. Once the public outcry ensued, Fox45 picked up the story from The Dagger, and enough public pressure was formed to cause Gov. Martin O’Malley to go from being oblivious to the problem to fully funding the scholarship in just a week.
– One Aberdeen political puppet master famously told another local journalist that once the city elections were over The Dagger would dry up and have to “go back to writing about bears.” He was right. We did go back to writing about bears – and in spectacular fashion, if I do say so myself. But we haven’t dried up. In fact, I’d say we’re stickier than ever.
– It was Friday, October 26, 2007. It was the day before my wedding. I was standing in a Pennsylvanian pumpkin patch at dawn in a torrential downpour. My phone was ringing off the hook. A few hours earlier, The Dagger had published a story about a local newspaper being mentioned during a court hearing. Simultaneously, The Dagger had also arranged, or more accurately, had arranged for us, an advertisement to be published in the same local newspaper. And simultaneous to that, The Dagger published another story explaining and exposing just how and why an advertisement for our free blog was being published in that newspaper. I’m having a hard time catching my breath just remembering and retyping the whole situation, much less having lived through it. My phone was ringing off the hook because people were mad. Journalist friends were going to lose their jobs because they were in some way tangentially related to The Dagger and would make fine scapegoats. A group of multimillionaires was enraged that we spilled the beans to the public on who bought us the advertisement and why. I think some other Daggers were mad that they were dealing with the ensuing maelstrom while I was placidly picking pumpkins in a Pennsylvanian patch. Bridges were burned, literal lines were drawn in figurative sand and the world changed overnight. Now there was The Dagger.
Untold Stories of The Dagger
As part of our anniversary, several of our writers crafted personal stories sharing their most memorable moments of the past year and how they became associated with The Dagger:
– In “No Longer Do You Have to Feel Alone,” Kristi explains the power shift that occurs when you break down the walls of traditional media and give a community the chance to be both the readers and writers of its own local news.
– In “The Gift That Keeps on Giving,” Matt relays a cautionary tale of how easy it is for bridges to be unintentionally ignited by the white hot heat of doing something right.
– In “New American Journalism or Flat Out Poison?,” Josh lauds the grand idea of The Dagger as a worthwhile endeavor, but cautions there are still reasons to have strong reservations about the direction the site has taken as it has grown.
– In “Doing Things No One Else Can or Will,” Steve uses a lot of numbers and technical jargon to show off how smart he is while also quantifying The Dagger’s success in its first year.
– In “Voyeurism and Journalism Make for Great Educational Entertainment,” Mark talks about how he witnessed the future of local news and entertainment rise amid a small town election – and how he eagerly joined the movement.
– In “New Friends, New Relationships, New Opportunities,” Molly admits that her involvement with The Dagger has allowed her to meet and write about fascinating people and events on a local, national and even international level which she would likely have never come in contact with otherwise.
– In “Throwing Caution into the Wind…And Calling for a Police Escort,” Cindy recalls taking a chance on a trip to a popular regional radio station and how she’s better for the experience – even though she had to ask the former Baltimore City Police Chief for some extra protection on the way out of the studio.
– In “For a Community That Demands to Know More About Itself,” Carlin remembers how his skepticism with the original idea for The Dagger turned into surprise with its success.
We’d love to hear from you and post some of your memories and thoughts over the last year with The Dagger. All comments and submissions are welcome. Just, please, no one sing “Happy Birthday.” I’m not sure we could afford the royalty payments.