The idea was a grand one.
It’s rare these days to be in on a grand idea, an idea that for a short time is so free of the daily round of human nonsense that you are almost short of breath.
The idea was that a crew of mostly ex-newspaper writers could remake American Journalism the right way, the way that we thought we hadn’t been allowed to in our short years covering…, well covering.
Covering the world, or at least the world formed between the river and the falls.
We’d do it the right way, because we knew better. We’d sat at our desks and seen editors kill stories without explaining to us why, and seen them strangle the last drops from stories that should never have been written in the first place, without explaining to us why. And we were smart and talented and bright and ambitious. Which is true. But did we really know better? Did I really know better?
My ideals for the Dagger were lofty to say the least. As well as unrealistic. At some level I knew that, but why not, I’d think. Why can’t there be a new model for news reporting? There will be eventually. The big guys are surrendering territory like it’s radioactive. We’d slip in and fill the gap, not with the same old story but with the new one. The one you could feel proud of. One that was truly impartial, one where party affiliations would be ignored. One where no advertiser anywhere could weasel their black claws into our foundations.
And of course when I say “the new story you feel proud of”, I mean the one I felt proud of. Wrong wrong wrong. A basic human failing, and probably the basic human failing.
From where I’m sitting, the first real bump in the road threw me for good. A stupid question of who, and even if, we would take advertising, a day and a half of hasty emails back and forth, replies written so quickly that misunderstandings and resentments spread like a grass fire.
We were all foolish, none more then myself.
But, a year of work reporting is a year of work reporting, a year of information and discussion that would not have happened otherwise. That is something to cherish. I have some strong reservations with the direction the Dag has taken. The unreported conflicts of interest by some of the writers are a flat out poison, to the site and the community. The comment boards, well, not exactly the label free, intelligent and open environment I think we’d envisioned.
But the Dagger continues on, as it should. A year is a short time, and ideas, especially the really grand ones, thankfully live a little longer then that.
As far as favorite moments, the posting a few days into in the gay marriage story, where a person who had previously posted that homosexuals were basically pedophiliac predators came around to say that he could see how it would be ok for gays to marry. Thats was great.
But the greatest moment, and probably the most good any of us have done all year, was in helping two boys who were lost without their dad in the woods. I let them use my phone, I think Brian gave them a map, and Matt gave them some water. They were getting scared, I think, until they met us. We helped them out, a little. And they made it out of the woods before night fell, made it back to their family.
Josh … Keep it up …. but I have a hard time with your opionion of the comment boards as …as you illude to…uninteligent. The people on the boards are your fellow citizens. People who design steel staircases…and the guys who weld them. They are the guys who run the forklifts and the MRI machines. They are both the sweepers of the parking lot and the surgions at Upper Cheseapeak. Like it or not this is what is, , always has, and always will be the make-up of our community.
Go Dagger !
Must be cloudy, looking at the world from up there on Journalism Mt. Olympus, Josh. So I’ll remind you of a basic principal that’s still pretty clear down here on the ground: No man who calls himself a journalist would toss out an allegation such as “unreported conflicts” being “poison” without offering evidence to back it up. I owned like 15 shares of stock in BGE back when I covered deregulation. So shoot me. You’ve got something worse than that on my friends, I’d like to hear it, you Marxist, utopian pissant.
Josh, I agree with you that it has been frustrating at times watching readers (and even writers) use the dag as a way to blast each other or push their own agendas. One of the things that bugs me the most is watching people mistreat alleged victims and name call (like the Pylesville murder we recently posted about).
But here’s the thing, it is all part of why the Dagger (and others like it) is so important. It provides people with the freedom of speech–one of our greatest constitutional rights. While it’s frustrating to see all the fighting on there, it is what the newspaper would never allow these people to do and therefore something the public needs–an outlet to be heard (good or bad).
I think that often the news media, particularly newspapers, ignore this right–the very right that they were born for (free speech and knowledge for the people). Along with free speech comes anger and hate, just as much as peace and brillance.
As Brian said a little while ago while discussing this very thing: “It’s human nature and it occurs everywhere – we’re just the ones who refuse to censor it.” We refuse to censor it because that’s what the people need. And, as I recall him saying also, this kind of talk often helps people work things out in the end. If they didn’t have the chance to do this, they would never get down to what really bothers their neighbor or the ability to agree to disagree. They would go on ignored.
Ignoring or censoring the public is never what we had in mind, and I don’t think that it was what you had in mind either. It’s not cool when they talk shit about me or you or each other, but they have a right to their opinion (educated or not). All we can do is continue the fight for truth and back each other up when we can.
So I agree with you that impartiality is a novel idea, one that I too had in mind when we dreamed long ago of our little news mag before it was born, but impartiality isn’t exactly human nature and so we must find our way in it and make as much light of it as we can.
As a reader and contributor with a true understanding of the value of free speech, I understand just how hard it is to bite one’s tongue and allow it in your presence when in strong disagreement.
The temptation to simply silence or ignore what you truly don’t like is very real. It takes a lot of guts and discipline to stand there and allow it to be said, and thus considered.
This I give a world of credit to the dagger for.
Go Dagger !
How do you guys like my birthday present….the use of the spill chucker !
Love it, RichieC. Keep it up. So much easier to understand. Now, if we could only get VietnamVet to use it too, with the addition of grammar checker!
I will admit that, while I don’t believe in censorship, I’m not sure where I stand on the name calling thing. I think it is a very unintelligent way to argue a point, and the one who uses it is really hurting themselves. So, in that sense I’d say let it happen, but in part it is a personal attack and rather inappropriate. What do our readers say about that? Should name calling be allowed in a public forum?
Kloh…if its attached to a subject…..if its basically color….not a post that’s stand alone. Although it may be important to see the reaction a subject or post brings…but when discussing a murder…and someone..without any other context to attach it to…calls someone a whore, or addict…it crosses the line. I would however like to know a comment was made even if deleted.
In the end its still input from the community.
Go Dagger !
I get it that it has to be all or nothing with you guys…and I get that you can’t censor some things and not others. But I have to say, the discussion forums are not what they were in the beginning.
I started reading at work when someone sent me the article about Chuck Boutin’s head. I laughed my ass off. I continued reading through the Aberdeen elections, mainly because I wanted to see what people would say about a family member running for Mayor–which turned out being quite a bit. I had a blast debating and attempting to respond to “Dagney” in her own language (ok, I’m bored at work).
But I admired your coverage of the whole thing. I thought, wow, this is cool. They just cut through all the crap and report what they see–no agenda, no bias. I didn’t always like your conclusions, or agree, but there was something refreshing about the whole thing.
And the discussions…while they did degenerate at times, I found them pretty interesting. I loved the gay marriage story, and the fact that there was real discussion about something real.
But honestly, that lack of censorship that I loved from you guys in the beginning is probably the very thing that has me coming back less and less. Oh god, the Pylesville murder story?!? At what point do you decide that valuable discussion will not be had on this topic and close the train wreck of a thread? That, and you seem to encourage some commenters whose main agenda is to attack other posters on any/all topics and fill the boards with meaningless nonsense. Nonsense spelled badly.
I know, I get that it’s hard to pick and choose, but I find myself less and less likely to enter into discussions these days. Because what can you really add to an endless discussion of whether or not some guy provoked another into killing him and who paid for the funeral?
I don’t know the answer. Thankfully, I don’t have to. I commend you for your vision, and for a year’s worth of entertainment and thought-provoking articles and discussion.
Jessica, I really do understand what you’re saying, but who am I (or you, or any of us) to decide when something has become “meaningless nonsense.”
I daresay that to the families involved in the Pylesville murder story, that “meaningless nonsense” might be the most important thing in their lives.
I understand where you are coming from. None of us could have predicted the amount of discussion the posting of, basically, a press release about a murder would trigger.
I think most of the readers that have been with the dagger from the beginning got used to coming back to the site just to check out the latest comments. We have tried to get away from focusing so much on that dynamic. Articles on things like the Conroy Scholarship received hardly any attention comment-wise, yet the Pylesville murder is now our most commented story.
Our Schoolyard coverage had state senators and delegates posting real time updates from the floor. We have covered local sports in a more personal manner. We hope The Chew brings something new to the table (ha ha ha). And we have a few more tricks in store.
Hopefully all visitors can find something that they feel passionate enough to comment on. If not, email us and tell us what we are missing.
And, here’s the point: If you want to influence the discussion, or the content for that matter, jump in. Post the most erudite, respectful, well-reasoned Internet comment ever conceived. Or write a full-length letter. Or go out and do your own reporting and submit a story. Would you have us do what the Aegis does — threaten letter writers that they won’t be published if they post on some (supposedly competing) free website?
Spelling and being “set straight” isn’t the only thing these threads are for. There are many threads I simply don’t even open…I’m simply not interested.
Its just nice to know they are there.
Go Dagger !
The Conroy scholarship wasn’t commented on by me in the beginning because I had nothing meaningful to contribute. I did follow it and obviously some others did to !
I’ll repeat it….many threads are read and quoted by those who swear they “don’t even know what the Dagger is”.
Go Dagger !
Hey guys, I enjoy your site immensely, and I’m glad you’re around. Kloh asked a question about the name-calling, and it had me thinking of some of the crazy comments I’ve seen that detracted from some of the better discussions. That was all I meant.
P.S. Whoa, holy misplaced anger Matt.
Holy or wholly? I didn’t mean to sound angry in that one. Anyway, thanks for reading. Holy searing reportage, Batman!
vietnam vet says
Kloh I see no reason to change. I’am as I am. and it’s who I am. grammer aside. mistakes etc. theres nothing edited. nothing changed.it’s the DAGGER.
no, but it sure would make it a lot easier to understand what you’re saying.
By the way, vet, I didn’t mean to offend you. It was a simple joke, since we were crackin’ on RichieC’s spelling. Sorry if it upset you.
vietnam vet says
No offense taken. if my grammer was edited,I would think I was writeing the aegis. and they never printed anything I sent them to print. maybe they could’nt read it.Ha Ha”
Richie is richie. would we want him any other way? I did and interview for a book. auctually a story’ for a book. the author said to his wife do you think I should edit and change this ? she said NO. it’s more believeable when it’s in the person’s own way of telling it.
If you need something, disciphered. please ask. as for the F.B.I. agent he and his lovely wife onced lived. in a low income area of town. we have at least one CIA agent liveing in town. mind’s his business. and rides the marc train. and that is just and extra tid bit.