Should Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Be Part Of Journalism’s Toolset?

Video screengrab of initial construction of the Graton Casino in Rohnert Park in 2012 - taken from amateur suas footage.

Video screengrab of initial construction of the Graton Casino in Rohnert Park in 2012 – taken from amateur suas footage.

A great deal of reporting is being done lately on the value of “drone journalism”. Coupled with the FAA’s legal wrangling over the actual legality of such newsgathering, we’ve got ourselves a First Amendment issue, folks.

This video was gathered by yours truly in June 2012 to document the progress of SMART working on improving our local railroad infrastructure:

The FAA thinks this should be illegal.

They also think this should be illegal:

What do you think? Do you have archival or newsworthy “suas” (small unmanned aerial systems) video to share with a larger audience?

Commercial Drone Pilots Cheer Judge Overturns Fine Against Pilot

Media line up to oppose drone ban –

Drone Journalism: Media Groups Raise First Amendment Concerns

AMICI Brief by Media Industry

‘Lil Kim, Redux

Let the caricatures begin anew:

Handsome lil devil.

Handsome lil devil.

To his credit, he tried.  He tried to let the West influence him.  Of course, Dennis Rodman isn’t exactly THE person that everyone in America would like to have representing them to DPRK.

But wait!  Dennis is planning his trip back – claiming that peace between ‘lil Kim and Barack would be his greatest accomplishment!

Backfire!  …and we’re back to the same-ole, same-ole:


Santa Rosa artist Matthew Reid (aka: M@) contributed these to EmpireReport several years ago...

Santa Rosa artist Matthew Reid (aka: M@) contributed these to EmpireReport several years ago…

When the Mouth of Russian River Closes

Stormy surf in recent days has caused the mouth of the Russian River to naturally be closed up with beach sand.  When that happens, especially in the wintertime when river flows are up, the river fills up.  Today, Cazadero resident Chris Greene snapped these photos of the Jenner visitor’s center which sits on stilts at the river’s edge.  Chris mentioned that there was an excavator at the time out on the beach digging a channel for the water to drain into the Pacific.

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What’s The Mission?

spanking time.

spanking time.

If you’re reading this little website of mine, you likely know me – or know of me.  You probably are aware I’ve been involved in the online news of Northern California in various ways for more than 5 years now. Admittedly, that’s not long at all, but it is a great deal of time in the sense that the news industry has been through a sea-change in those very same 5 years, and I’ve had a front row seat.  I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, and become much more aware of the significant and inexcusable shortcomings of the existing conditions among our current North Bay news providers.  I wish more people paid attention to some of these issues – otherwise, we get what we ask for – a virtual and immovable news monopoly.  Well, we’re there.  Still.

It isn’t easy to make money in the local news industry – especially as a startup, where it’s doggone impossible to get a foot in the door.  This has something to do with why we live in a one-(daily)rag-town.  That one, the elephant news organization in our community, has no alternative but to carry the major load for all of us.  The Press Democrat is one organization that most adults in the Redwood Empire look to for news.  (jake’s note: that’s ‘Redwood Empire’ – not ‘North Coast’)  I digress.

So, what are the editors thinking, really?

Very recently, the good reading public had to put up with nearly a week of The Press Democrat brass, from their plum positions (plum metaphor credit: Kevin McCallum), squaking about Santa Rosa City Officials keeping Santa Rosa City Council applicants secret until all applications had been submitted.  What a hoot that was, huh?  Newspapers FLEW off the shelves! (No, they probably didn’t.)

And now, now that all 17 applications are available for public viewing, The Press Democrat neglects to include or link these oh-so-important applications from any of their online articles about them!  (by the way – they are all right here, for your reading pleasure)

Am I alone in seeing the hypocrisy in that?  “Show the public” they cry – “Why are you keeping the applications and applicants secret” they whine… and now, now that said public servants, as promised, have made ALL the applications available on the internet for all to see, and consume for themselves – the PD insists, through omission, on being the sole source of information about these applications?

Who is making these 20th century decisions over there?  Really?  No links?  Nothing?

Nothing here (as I write this):
UPDATE: Names of Santa Rosa City Council applicants made public | Watch Sonoma County

Nothing here either:
Names of Santa Rosa City Council applicants made public

So I’ll leave you, good reader, with this:

I wanted to see for myself what candle I might be able to hold the Press Democrat up to…  I wanted to see how this 21st century invention – The Hyperlink – might be something worth their utilizing in an effort to BETTER INFORM THE COMMUNITY THEY SERVE.  Heck, they even suggest on their website: “hyperlinks encouraged”.   Really?

I was surprised to find that The Press Democrat has no public Mission Statement.  Local control?  Yes.  Mission statement?  No.  But on their “About” page – they do have this nugget:

“Unlike most other major newspapers, The Press Democrat has literally grown up with the area it serves. As Northern California continues to develop into the 21st century, so too will The Press Democrat.”

Prove it.

Use hyperlinks.  Attempt to educate your readers instead of simply broadcasting to them.  We’ll all be better for it.

~jake   shoot me an email if you have access to The Mission Statement.

Big Day For The Gran Fondo…

Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge Gran Fondo

Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo

On Monday morning, at 9am, all the hand wringing over the latest scandal to hit professional cycling will come to climax… registration for the 2013 running of Levi’s Gran Fondo will begin, and nearly as soon we’ll have a bellwether of public sentiment towards Levi and his recent doping admissions.
I expect the registration will fill just as fast as it has in years past (7500 slots in mere days)… time will tell.

Register for the 2013 Levi’s GranFondo.

Other notable news:  Quietly announced on the ‘frequently asked questions’ page of Levi’s Gran Fondo website are the event dates for 2013, 2014 AND 2015… presumably this means the Gran Fondo is in it for the long haul!  Deets:

When is Levi’s GranFondo?
  • 2013: October 5th
  • 2014: October 4th
  • 2015: October 3th


Thursday, May 3, 2012 – Clips

From: Jim Leddy <Jim.Leddy>
Date: Thu, May 3, 2012 at 8:07 AM

Sonoma County pensions to cost millions more
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
By BRETT WILKISON A 42 percent spike in unfunded pension promises could further drive up taxpayer contributions to Sonoma County’s retirement fund, with costs jumping by a third next year and going up by millions more each year through 2017.
See all stories on this topic »

Sonoma County health clinics receive $8 million in federal grants
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
By RANDI ROSSMANN Three Sonoma County health clinics will receive more than $8 million in federal money to build facilities and improve services to uninsured and low-income patients in Sonoma County, including dental aid. Santa Rosa Community Health
See all stories on this topic »

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