Late Edition, April 3, 2021
Wolves, virtual fish (vish?), and a 'Braver Angels: Reuniting America' viewing party
Happy Easter! I’m not really big on celebrating holidays in this space, but I know most of you are probably reading this on Easter, so it seemed appropriate.
I really blame myself for this, so please don’t feel attacked, but not enough of you read my story last week. It’s my fault because I really didn’t promote it well, so let me try again.
While the story focuses on the acute problems that Michigan motorcyclists face, it also reminds us all of how the insurance reform bill passed in 2019 was wildly imperfect and rushed through the legislature.
For motorcyclists, the changes mean that the insurance coverage they pay for doesn’t actually cover them in many accidents. They’re stuck with whatever the driver of an involved car has purchased, even if it’s only $50,000 of coverage.
For the rest of us, our savings are only guaranteed for six more years, at which point our rates can go back up, and we’re just left with smaller payouts in the event of an accident.
Also, I endeavored to keep this story on the shorter side, because I know some of this lawmaking stuff is dry and difficult to read. I use quotes from two bikers and three lawmakers to keep it from getting too boring.
I also learned how to make custom buttons.
This week was a tough one to get much work in, and so of course I also undertook my biggest project yet, thinking I could finish it in a week. I can’t. It might take three, actually. But it’s a mixed-media presentation that I’m excited to put together, and I think it will be an enjoyable viewing/reading experience, too.
I had to shelve that project for the week because I’m still really focused on the Tiny News Collective application, and now with another reason. The collective has been approved for Google News Initiative money, and now each accepted participant will get a $15,000 startup stipend. That would be huge for us! The deadline is a week away.
So this week I spent time incorporating answers from last week’s survey into the application. Thank you so much to those who spent the time on that survey! I know it was long and I’m going to keep them shorter in the future. I also spoke to several Patreon subscribers one-on-one, and I attended TNC’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ session that also included lawyers from Lawyers for Reporters. I’m putting everything I can into the application, and I’m feeling pretty confident. We’re a great fit for their program, I hope they think so, too.
I also spent several hours this week applying for government assistance. I don’t know if any of you have applied for Medicaid, food assistance, or other benefits before, but it is a process, complicated by the fact that I still have some-but-not-much income. Let me know if you’re interested, and I can write up my experience with the State. This isn’t the first time I’ve applied, and the process is slightly changed. I’m still only partly done this time around, so that will probably continue to eat up my time next week, too. I really need that healthcare, though.
Anyway, still plenty of content here for you to read, starting with our first Letter to the Editor!
Letter to the Editor
I’m as excited to bring you this letter as I have been about (almost) any of our guest columns. But the looseness of the letter policy at the Gazette always bothered me, so before you stretch out your typing fingers and bang something out on your keyboard for me, I’d like to discuss what my policy is going to be. I don’t plan on printing as many as the Gazette does.
Basically, letters will be held to a similar ethical standard as anything in Late Edition. You don’t have to agree with me, in fact, I’d prefer you don’t (what’s the point of publishing it otherwise?), but I won’t lend the Late Edition platform to certain things.
First and foremost are personal attacks, especially against non-public figures. Politicians have to expect a certain degree of criticism when they run for office, and some business and organization leaders do, too. It is part of the responsibility of leadership. However, Late Edition will not become a venue for neighborhood squabbles and name-calling. I don’t expect this to be very controversial, I think it’s what you’ve come to expect from me anyway.
That said, the bar is a little higher than just “don’t be mean”.
I’m going to do some basic fact-checking on submissions I choose to publish. I won’t be reporting out every letter that gets submitted to find out the truth at the bottom of every nook and cranny, but I will not be publishing letters with any obvious misinformation included, either. Those will go straight to the trash.
What I’m really looking for in a letter is an original idea. Something that I haven’t thought of, perhaps an aspect of a story I inadvertently ignored or covered inadequately, or a story that I’ve completely missed. Something that makes me stop to think. Maybe it’s something you’ve heard people talking about but haven’t seen in writing anywhere and you just want to share the idea. Ultimately, something that adds to the conversation, rather than trying to rehash or rebut points already in the public sphere.
In this letter, Theresa Pitts points out what she believes is the unspoken reason behind the push for a wolf hunt. It isn’t something I’ve considered, but I think she may have a point. I invite you to read her letter and consider the idea for yourself.
If you’d like to write your own letter to me for possible submission, go ahead and email it to me. My email address is email@example.com. Make sure you put “Letter to the Editor” or “For Publication” or something in there so I know it’s more than just a friendly correspondence.
This past week, the City of Hancock’s council met to discuss a few things at a special meeting.
The short version of the story is that they approved a grant application that, if approved by the State, could pay for a property purchase to complete the Navy Street waterfront trail, they approved a change to the legal description for 444 Hancock Street, and they approved the new city logo.
Expect to see it popping up all over Hancock soon. I think it’s nice. Each part of the logo has some symbolism, too. It’s all laid out at the end of the board information packet(also on the Sunshine Calendar) if you’re interested.
The council meets again this week Wednesday at 6 p.m. for their regular meeting. No agenda is available yet, but it will be shared with the Sunshine Calendar here when I can.
I’d also like to note that meetings are no longer required by law to be streamed virtually, as that provision of Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders has expired. While some public bodies have committed to keeping meetings as accessible as possible by streaming in addition to meeting in person (which I heartily applaud), not all of them have, and a verbal agreement is no guarantee of the quality of the stream.
Despite not being vaccinated yet, I intend to mask-up and attend those meetings in person. I’m going to attempt to record them on video, as allowed by the Open Meetings Act. I say attempt not because I expect anyone to try to stop me, but because I don’t have full faith in my equipment. While I’ve recorded many videos, most of these meetings run longer than I’ve ever tried to record. It’s easy enough using my computer to record a Zoom meeting, video recording remotely is another animal entirely.
Please bear with me as I sort it all out!
Hey, that’s neat
I didn’t find any new and interesting tools this week, but I did find this little game. It’s kind of a mix between a game and a digital toy, really. This is a snapshot of what it looks like:
It’s just a simple little fishbowl that lives inside a browser tab. The grass and algae grow, the fish and Daphnia eat and reproduce, the sun rises and sets, and you can interact, or just watch. If you close the browser window, your fishbowl comes back the next time you open the page, so I’ve been using it kind of like a screensaver when I’m not working on my computer.
It’s surprisingly difficult to keep a proper oxygen/carbon dioxide balance.
Two things I’d like to share with you here. Normally I just do one, but the first one is personal and I don’t want you to feel cheated.
I’m going to be presenting virtually to the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’s Sunday Forum next week (10:30 a.m. ET).
The talk will be somewhat similar, but a bit more polished, to the talk I gave to the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition a few weeks ago. In short- we live in a ‘news desert’ (I’ll explain what that is), it’s not good for the community (I’ll explain why), and there are ways to fix that (I’ll explain how).
There is a Zoom link already available on the KUUF website, but I’ll share out some more information later in the week, too. Just wanted to make sure you had the chance to save the date.
The other thing I wanted to share is this tracker from the Tow Center and Columbia Journalism Review.
They’ve been tracking staffing cuts and outlet closures, and the news isn’t good. The mark on Houghton is for Ogden Newspapers, owners of the Daily Mining Gazette. And no, my departure wouldn’t count, it was voluntary.
‘Braver Angels’ viewing party
I’m going to host a viewing of the Braver Angels documentary, “Reuniting America” on Monday at 6:30 p.m., and I’d love it if you can join me! I’m planning on sitting down with dinner to watch this 50-minute video about bringing Red and Blue Americans back together in this time of extreme divisiveness.
Here’s a video to introduce you to the Braver Angels organization.
We’ll watch the documentary with the text chat enabled, and then afterward we can discuss what we’re taking away from the film. If you’re interested, please RSVP on the Sunshine Calendar event page by hitting the button below!
I need to keep track of the number of participants because my current Zoom account can only host 100. But there are other options if we exceed that number, so feel free to share! You can hit the button below to share this entire edition of Late Edition, or just share the RSVP link to share the event alone.
Aggregated News - Endorsed, not sponsored
These are articles (and the occasional podcast) I’ve found that I thought should be shared. None of the work is my own, but it comes from colleagues and organizations that I find generally trustworthy, or am personally a member of.
Click on the headline to be taken to the story.
When it comes to the cleanup of legacy PFAS waste. A combination of federal and state laws lets her hold them to certain standards in their cleanup efforts.
From the AP: “A high school sports advocacy group and some parents sued Michigan on Thursday, seeking to stop a new requirement that all teen athletes be regularly tested for the coronavirus.”
Make sure you’re not falling for their tricks online. Read the AP’s ‘Not Real News’ regularly. I do! This week are false claims about Georgia’s new laws, cancer-causing tests, Nazi flags, and more.
This is probably my #1 read of the week. If you only pick one thing on this list, let this be it. From National Public Radio, so there’s an accompanying audio snippet, too.
It’s for different reasons than when Donald Trump was president, but I can’t say I feel the situation has improved much. This is one facet, from the Associated Press, but I encourage you to read some of the other articles linked within, too. It’s certainly a multi-faceted problem. Here’s a quick video that shares some thoughts from a pastor and others near the border, who are doing their best.
The New York Times put together this little quiz tool using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help you evaluate how safe an activity is once you’ve been vaccinated. It doesn’t give a straight “yes” or “no” answer, but just highlights the risk factors involved so you can make a clearer decision.
My fellow GVSU alumni Allison Donahue walks us through what’s been happening, and why we aren’t locked down again. She has the statistics laid out here.
There are a lot of stories about “the science” out there. This article, from IJnet, lays out some basic ways to spot when someone might be taking liberties with their reporting.
From the AP and David Eggert. The headline there pretty much sums it up, but there are some details in the case worth knowing, too.
While the owner blames unemployment benefits for making it hard to recruit people, there are good reasons for those temporarily increased benefits that go unmentioned. This story could use more reporting, but who will do it now?
That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to watch for a link to my KUUF talk later this week, and if you like what you’ve read, share it with a friend. If you didn’t, maybe share it with an enemy.