Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Ostrich: Small-town minded, and then some

Fulfilling a promise, even if ‘we might be slow about it’

Nearly two years ago, when Other Side was a mere act of defiance, a trial balloon of sorts, and this correspondent was a ‘cub reporter,’ we reflected on the editorial ‘vigor’ of The Times Record, well before we created a nom de plume for it. 

We suggested they were a bit blasé when it came to investigating and reporting on matters of vital importance to the local area.  An area in which they were wont to characterize themselves as “award- winning” protectors of the public interest and “watchdogs” of government.

If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane, here are the directions:

On Sept 16, 2009, we posted ‘Color me clueless,’ which you can read here:

On the following day, Sept 17, 2009, we followed up with ‘Reflections on yesterday,’ which you can find here:

OK, class; now that you’ve read the background material, we wish to point out that in the second item, we referenced an article in Brill’s Content, a now defunct periodical, in which the culture of our beloved local daily paper was examined in some detail. It was written by someone who did a brief stint as managing editor of the ‘media entity.’ 

The article was published in April of 2000, but we were unable to find a digital version that we could provide for your edification.  We did, however, promise to do what we could to find one.  And then we promptly forgot about it.

Recent events associated with what we now refer to as The Ostrich reminded us of our commitment, and so we humbly sought to fulfill it.  While we have not been able to recover a high quality digital version of the referenced article, thanks to a loyal reader, we do have something to provide.

You can find it here:

While it is not of the highest image quality, if you make use of the zoom option at the bottom of the window, you should be able to read it.  And if you do, you will be in for quite a surprise.  You may well come to understand how and why the NOTWIUN finds itself on the horns of the dilemma it is now riding.

Reading the article should cause you to marvel over the influence of well known local grand high poobahs.  And you should then wonder about the ‘integrity’ of local governance, in all of its varied forms.

We know, naiveté, thy name is Side.  We just need to grow up; but what if we don’t accept that world view?

We also wonder whether “Scoop” Sample III, who now owns the  paper, was aware of this article before he bought the fine feathered bird.

Oh, and a point of order, as to this pronouncement by the current leadership:

While we might be slow about it,  The Times Record pays tens of thousands of dollars in property and business taxes annually to support local government. No other  newspaper or media entity does so.

Self-indulgent as we are, we think of Other Side as a ‘media entity.’ In which case, the above statement is false.  We pay thousands of dollars in property taxes annually to support local government, the same government currently providing services, without payment, to the bird. 

Now that we think of it, ‘flipping the bird’ takes on a whole new gravitas, well beyond your local paperboy tossing the rag at your porch.

That would be the bird whose head is not visible.  As a friend once said, “we can be petty.”  Especially when the circumstances cry out for it.

(Editor’s Note: we can’t wait to see if this post shatters the record held by ‘Vetting the vetter.’  it’s up to you!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pure poppycock, Ostrich style

We don’t know if we’re watching the collapse of The Ostrich or not, but we certainly are getting a lesson in the self-deception that both it’s readers and the editors have practiced for years.

The tributes have been ‘pouring in’ for Jim McCarthy, the now departed former managing editor and more recently, opinion editor.

On Friday, John Rensenbrink, retired Bowdoin Prof, and founder, I believe, of the Maine Green Independent Party, offered his praises of McCarthy:

As a reporter, as managing editor, and as the editor of the editorial page, he has shown himself to be a person of great integrity, kindness, patience and insight. Jim has an intuitive feeling for justice and truth, and for relating to people in a manner that respects who they are.

No one will be surprised to hear that John and Jim are on the same wavelength, more or less, which is not in the same frequency spectrum as mine.  That said, there are some statements that should not be left unchallenged, and this is one of them.

We have written in recent months about McCarthy’s publishing of patently obvious wild claims in reader offerings, most likely because they agreed with his ideological bent.  We further reported how we caught him lying to us on having vetted the material.  It’s obvious to this writer that McCarthy only pulled out the wire brush when it was needed to challenge a position he didn’t care for.  Like some of ours.

This hardly speaks to integrity, if you’ll pardon the notion.

But that’s nothing new for The Ostrich.  Not too many years ago, a prior opinion editor accepted an award for an opinion piece she didn’t write, and when we called her on it, she accused us of nit-picking an award winning newspaper, in so many words.

So we say poppycock to you, Professor!

Moving on, how many times have you watched a professional sports team owner make a public appearance to claim that Joe Schlepp is our coach through thick or thin, only to fire the guy before the week is out?

I was reminded of that phenomenon when I read another piece in Friday’s edition, entitled “Hard truth.”  In it, Ostrich editors (or the publisher??) come clean, at least as they see it.

They are truly ashamed for being delinquent on their property taxes, as this humble apology shows:

While we might be slow about it,  The Times Record pays tens of thousands of dollars in property and business taxes annually to support local government. No other  newspaper or media entity does so.

As good journalists know, you should always be sincere, whether you mean it or not.  And a little pride in your humility only adds to the luster.

Overall, the item combines the obvious realities with a good measure of chest beating about their undamaged self-esteem.  I particularly liked the closing lines:

We’re in this together. We remain committed to serving the Mid-coast region to the full extent of our resources and abilities.

Memo to Ostrich editors: we take exception to the notion that ‘we’ are in this together.  You declined to extend our subscription without timely payment, even though as taxpayers we continued your full slate of municipal services without timely payment of your taxes.

The sentence following that is a case study in self-serving double-speak and ambiguity.

Well as they say, consider the source.

And poppycock again.


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Sad news about Frosty’s; an era ends

We just learned that the matriarch of the legendary Frosty’s Donut Shop, June Frost, passed away on July 11th.  We could be the last ones to find out; that’s often the way at Other Side.

June was 76, and they have been operating their shop since 1965.  That’s a very long time, and literally millions of tasty treats have passed through her hands on the way to regular and visiting customers.

June’s passing occurred after our most recent visit, but two days before we posted on a Frosty’s visit here.  We don’t know the circumstances of her passing, whether it was sudden or otherwise.  Either way, given the timing, our last post was anything but fortuitous, and for that we apologize.

We’ve spent many happy hours in Frosty’s, and brought home many a dozen, to the delight of all who shared in them.  Especially the grandkids.  We even brought some with us on trips to visit family in Cleveland, and they were a hit there.

June was an iconic presence at the shop, as everyone surely knows.  We send our sincere sympathies to her husband Bob and the rest of her family.  They have struggled with a variety of health related challenges in recent years, as regular customers know.

Reports are that the shop is closed down and on the market.  We will certainly miss the place, and numerous visitors will be disappointed as well.  The Frosty’s reputation spread far and wide; their donuts simply were the best.  Visitors often showed up while we were in the shop, saying how they made a point of looking for Frosty’s on their trip to the area.

It remains to be seen whether anyone else can summons up the devotion and commitment to give Frosty’s a second life.  We certainly hope so; it will take a lot to do so.  Here’s hoping someone with the requisite determination and stamina does so.  Code issues and the like could well complicate any plans.

It would sure make a lot of us happy, and it would be a fitting tribute to the Frosts.

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