Category Archives: Media

Let Me Get This Straight…

by James A. Bacon

Wyatt Gordon writes about smart growth issues for the Virginia Mercury and Greater Greater Washington. Sometimes, he’s worth reading. But, then, sometimes, he’s not. As an example of the latter, he recently posted this on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter:

So, let me get this straight. If Gordon avoided emitting 54,000 pounds of carbon pollution by driving 1,000 miles on his electric bike instead of driving a car, he says he’s saving 54 pounds per mile. Is that physically possible?

Now, I never took high school chemistry, but I do know that a pound of gasoline does not translate into a pound of CO2 emissions. According to the EPA, when gasoline is combusted, it frees up carbon atoms and hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen atoms combine with oxygen atoms in the air to create water. The carbon atoms combine with oxygen atoms to create CO2. Most of the weight of a CO2 molecule comes from oxygen atoms that were not present in the gasoline. In that way, says the EPA, a gallon of gasoline does indeed transmute into about 20 pounds of tailpipe carbon.

But unless Gordon toodles around town in a monster truck, he’s likely getting 20 or more miles to the gallon. Basic arithmetic tells us that a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon consumes 1/20th of a gallon per mile. Therefore, it generates 1/2oth of a gallon’s worth of tailpipe carbon per mile… or about one pound.

Gordon appears to have overstated his reduced CO2 emissions by a factor of 50.

That’s not the scary part. Continue reading

Revisiting the Intellectual Foundations of Conservatism — One Book at a Time

by Suzanne Munson

From time to time, members of every great movement such as American Conservatism need to stop, take a breath, and see where the movement is going. Great movements, founded by great individuals, can sometimes be hijacked by lesser minds.

Many of the founders of modern conservatism were intellectuals. William F. Buckley was able to criticize liberalism articulately from the foundation of a fine education, intellectual curiosity, and deep reading.

While there are knowledgeable thought-leaders in today’s conservative movement, there are others who call themselves conservatives who may be giving the movement an unfortunate image.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines conservatism as “a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change.” Much more can be added to this definition, such as limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a belief in traditional, wholesome values.

It is interesting to examine a recent incident in Florida to see where some who term themselves “conservatives” have created an embarrassing situation. Members of a book club, reported to consist of conservative members, rescinded an invitation to a respected author to speak to their group.

The program was a book and author event at $100 a plate, so one would assume some level of education and sophistication. Rachel Beanland, a well-regarded Richmond, Virginia author and teacher, was invited to speak about her new novel, The House Is on Fire.

She had spent hundreds of hours researching the tragic theater fire of 1811 in which some of Virginia’s most prominent citizens perished. The book features individuals, real and imagined, who resided in Richmond at that time–tradesmen, theater workers, politicians, slaves, doctors, widows.

Yes, there are slaves in the book and yes, their lives were difficult, and yes, some white characters in the book treated them poorly. What else is new? There were white characters in the story who also had poor treatment at the hands of other whites. There is always plenty of trouble to go around in an interesting novel. Continue reading

When Did the RTD Become TMZ?

by Shaun Kenney

The Richmond Times-Dispatch was given a clip of David Owen — Republican candidate for House of Delegates — where he tells an audience of like-minded souls that he is, indeed, pro-life.

Charlotte Rene Woods over at the RTD decides to do the work of Democratic campaign operatives in what could only be viewed as an in-kind donation.

… and did we mention that this video was taken five months ago, in March?

So, for the sin of stating that he values life and is willing to protect the basic human right to exist, what does this earn Owen? A blistering TMZ-style article where such an admission is caged as if Owen had gone on a drunken tirade motivated by the Dead Milkmen rather than any sort of gravitas. Continue reading

Leftist Media Canonizes Another Killer

by Kerry Dougherty

Ronald Albert Barnes.

That was the name of the Southampton County Correctional Center guard who died in March of 1975 after being beaten and stomped by two inmates, including convicted rapist Tony Lewis.

If you read Sunday’s Virginian-Pilot, maybe you were moved by the front-page valentine to “Tony The Tiger,” as he was affectionately known by his family, who are trying to get him out of prison after 50 years behind bars.

The story – “A Pursuit Of Freedom Blocked At Every Step” – is what journalists used to call a “Sunday thumb sucker,” a long-form piece dedicated to a heartwarming topic.

Perhaps you, too, read yesterday’s drivel about how this poor guy from Hampton – grew up fatherless in the projects, blah, blah, blah – and has been incarcerated since he was 16. His first conviction was for a 1973 rape (absolutely zero details on THAT crime) and later for his part in the murder of the prison guard, an escape attempt and other crimes associated with a deadly prison riot.

Inches and inches of ink about a killer. Yet the newspaper couldn’t be bothered to print the name of the man he murdered.

Color me unsurprised.

Let’s be honest, giving the dead man an identity might turn Tony the Tiger into Tony the Ruthless Killer and dilute the sympathy The Pilot is trying to gin up for the inmate. Continue reading

Washington Post Gotcha’s Another GOP Candidate

by Victoria Snitsar Churchill

Despite The Washington Posts attempts to paint him as an anti-woman radical, Republican nominee for the House of Delegates 21st District John Stirrup of Prince William County makes a compelling case for his District to elect him to the open seat this November.

According to The Washington Post, “Stirrup told a woman who had approached him after a Republican primary debate on May 18th” … that he would … “support a 100 percent ban,” according to a recording obtained by The Washington Post. In another recording, made June 20, he told a man he met outside a polling place that “I’d like to see, you know, [a] total ban.”

Made surreptitiously by two abortion rights supporters posing as abortion foes, the recordings seem intended to pin Stirrup down on an issue that Republicans in some swing districts would like to sidestep but Democrats hope to make a rallying cry in Nov. 7 General Assembly elections.

Balancing one’s personal views with the views of a constituency is a game that elected officials have to play often and well.

Stirrup’s remarks shouldn’t be seen as a backtrack, regardless of the attempts to paint him as a flip-flopper by The Post. Continue reading

A Bad Poll, Like a Blind Hog, Finds Some Acorns

By Steve Haner

The myth of the climate catastrophe is an easier sell to younger people with their shorter memories. A recent poll of Virginia adults 18 and up showed a marked difference of opinion based on age, with older voters less likely to claim they had personal experience of “impacts from climate change.”

The poll was a recent one conducted by the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Wilder School of Government and Public Policy, released in two parts. The first part dealt with election matchups and the second with issues, frankly using some ridiculous questions. They were not so much biased as just worthless. Other examples will follow but here is the climate issue question: Continue reading

An Investigation… into an Alleged Attempt to Discredit a Student Newspaper… that Criticized the VMI Administration

by James A. Bacon

There appears in the minutes of the Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors meeting of July 13, 2023 an abbreviated mention of a very hot topic:

Mr. [Thomas E.] Gottwald raised concerns about the administration’s continued conflict with The Cadet newspaper. Five news articles have been written regarding a challenge to the Virginia Press Association’s awards given to The Cadet. [Board President Thomas R.] Watjen suggested a conversation be had to better understand the administration’s involvement with the news articles.

That would be the same independent student newspaper whose denigration by The Washington Post we have chronicled here on Bacon’s Rebellion. Although Superintendent Cedric Wins has publicly praised The Cadet for its prestigious award, allegations have been circulating that negative stories about The Cadet were prompted by the VMI administration itself. I have refrained until now from reporting on those charges, but they have surfaced in the VMI board meeting, in an online petition, and again in an article appearing in Cardinal News. Continue reading

Example Number 3,632 in the Decline of Local Newspapers in Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

The newspaper business in Virginia continues its rapid descent into well-earned oblivion.

It is fair to disdain Donald Trump and hope that he is not our next president. Indeed, I have gone on record on BR with my views supporting that conclusion. This is an opinion blog.

But there is, or should be, such a thing as standards in newspapers. News here. Opinion there.

Many local newspapers now go too far as policy in a desperate attempt to survive. Or because the few remaining personnel simply don’t know any better. Or both. Continue reading

Youngkin Bans State Endorsements of Websites Targeted at Kids’ Sexuality That Do Not Require Parental Consent — WAPO Oobjects

by James C. Sherlock

The Washington Post editorial board, like its news pages, has stubbornly and selectively ignored a lot of big news:

  • the ongoing emergence of testimony under oath of whistleblowers recounting the IRS and Justice Department’s handling of all things Biden;
  • evidence like strings of single-purpose bank accounts used by and for current residents of the White House to launder and distribute to the family a great deal of foreign money; and
  • the collapse of Hunter Biden’s plea deal.

Such things do not rise to be the subjects of editorials. Except one on June 20 that was not a proud moment. The title:

Why Hunter Biden’s plea deal is justified

A quote from that editorial:

The outcome appears similar to what other defendants might have gotten for similar violations of the law.

Another editorial praised the Justice Department as “steeped in a tradition of political noninterference.” Seriously. They wrote that.

But the same board is in full dudgeon today about Glenn Youngkin taking “vital resources away from LGBTQ+ youth.” So, did he cut funding to some important program? Did he ban something?

No, he:

quietly authorized the removal of a resource page for LGBTQ+ youths on the Virginia Department of Health website.

“Quietly”? Clearly not.

But for very good reasons. Continue reading

WaPo Eats Crow, Students’ Journalism Award Stands

Credit: Bing Image Creator. Journalist eating crow.

by James A. Bacon

It is sweet indeed to read the latest Washington Post article about the Virginia Military Institute: after calling into question a top journalism award bestowed upon The Cadet independent student newspaper, media reporter Paul Farhi found himself gulping down a serious helping of crow in a follow-up story headlined, “VMI student paper award upheld after plagiarism, conflict-of-interest probe.”

The series of Cadet articles, which were critical of the VMI administration’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives, won the Virginia Press Association’s top community service award — the first for a student newspaper in Virginia. Rather than praising the young journalists for their accomplishment, Farhi criticized them. He contended that the series of articles contained plagiarism and that the Cadet had failed to disclose a conflict of interest to judges.

But Conrad M. Shumadine, a retired Norfolk attorney hired to determine if there were grounds for canceling the award, wrote that the honor was made “in accordance with applicable rules and regulations and is not subject to an after-the-fact challenge…. An award should be a celebratory event not an invitation to disparagement.” (Read his report.) Continue reading

Occupational Hazard, 4 of 4

by Joe Fitzgerald

Two recent signs of the deterioration of journalism. One is this comment from President Biden to a gaggle of reporters:

I hear some of you guys saying is, ‘Why doesn’t Biden say what a good deal it is?’ Why would Biden say what a good deal it is before the vote? You think that’s going to help me get it passed? No. That’s why you guys don’t bargain very well.

The second is this, from Harrisonburg Patch, a news aggregator:

A 33-year-old teacher at James Madison Middle School has been accused of soliciting inappropriate pictures from a student, leading to criminal charges against him. The alleged incident involved the teacher requesting pictures from a student at the school where he was employed, according to the police. The teacher has been arrested.

The first is obvious. Biden mocked the press corps for its reporting skills, and the press corps reported it as a Biden idiosyncrasy instead of as a failing on their part. The second, a little less so. The algorithm saw James Madison and thought Harrisonburg, even though the school is in Maryland. And it showed up in my email as a local story, which is a little jarring considering my wife, Deb, chairs the School Board.
Continue reading

Occupational Hazard, 3 of 4

by Joe Fitzgerald

In “A Pirate Looks at Forty” Jimmy Buffett describes the dilemma of one for whom the cannon doesn’t thunder: “My occupational hazard being my occupation’s just not around.” He could be describing journalists as well.

Journalism and piracy aren’t the only occupations disappearing, of course. The Chronicle of Higher Education and other pricey academic newsletters report regularly that universities are turning out more English and history doctorates than there are jobs to accommodate them. The magazine isn’t as worried about the loss of journalism jobs, possibly because journalists aren’t their audience. A site search of The Chronicle turns up 59 mentions of “journalism major,” mostly in job listings, and 268 mentions of “English major,” including this one:

Becoming an English major means pursuing the most important subject of all — being a human being. We’re sorry. Something went wrong.

I’m allowing for the possibility the search engine’s comments may be involved in that response. Still, something has gone wrong. The Daily News-Record is running stories about the Warren County sheriff to fill space with seemingly local stories. Six Virginia dailies will soon publish only three days a week, and by mail. The kid that started out delivering papers and wound up as a reporter will have to go back to the lemonade stand for spending money.
Continue reading

Occupational Hazard, 2 of 4

by Joe Fitzgerald

A perceptive friend recently spoke to me about press releases his outfit would send to the Daily News-Record back in the day. He said they always wound up in the paper with small inaccuracies, and his perception was that the releases were handed to the least experienced reporters to teach them how to type and rewrite.

I know it looked like that from the outside, I explained, but what actually happened was that I gave them to the least experienced reporters to teach them how to type and rewrite. I was happy to be able to clear that up.

We ran Valley Briefs, Business Briefs, Real Estate Briefs, not to mention the ones in non-news sections of the paper. They piled up on my desk until a reporter needed make-work, or mild punishment, or until I got tired of looking at them. They came back and went into another pile, from whence I’d compare them to the reporter’s efforts to see if they — the release or the reporters — had improved. Nine out of 10 were improved, either in AP style or news sense or clarity, and I caught the errors in half of the remainder. That success rate may not have been as obvious to someone who saw “attorney” changed to “lawyer,” “firm” changed to “company,” parentheses changed to dashes, or John Smith changed to William Johnson.
Continue reading

Occupational Hazard, 1 of 4

by Joe Fitzgerald

Harrisonburg police rescued a possible abduction victim one day last month after shooting the apparent perpetrator. A city press release said a domestic dispute on Old Furnace Road around 6:30 p.m. turned into an abduction. Police pursued the suspect’s vehicle to downtown, where they shot the suspect, who was apparently armed. The suspect was flown to UVa hospital and the victim was safe.

At least that’s what I got out of a Daily News Record story that included the line, “The pursuit ended in front of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office following an officer-involved shooting that ultimately injured the suspect.”

Journalism is dead. Or, in the same jargon as the press release, “Journalism ended following a Craigslist-involved financial loss that ultimately ate the newspapers’ lunch.”
Continue reading

Lee Enterprises and the Newspaper Business in Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Lee Enterprises, about whose frantic search for cash I wrote yesterday, owns a dozen newspapers in Virginia.

For now.

  1. The Daily Progress – Charlottesville
  2. The Free Lance-Star – Fredericksburg
  3. Register & Bee/Go Dan River – Danville
  4. Bristol Herald Courier – Tricities – Bristol
  5. Martinsville Bulletin – Martinsville
  6. The News & Advance – Lynchburg
  7. The News Virginian – Waynesboro
  8. Richmond Times-Dispatch – Richmond
  9. The Roanoke Times – Roanoke
  10. Culpeper Star-Exponent – Culpeper
  11. SWVA Today – Wytheville
  12. The Franklin News-Post – Rocky Mount

Lee’s current nationwide total of what it calls news “brands” is 85. It is a small and highly leveraged business.

This morning its stock (LEE:NASDAQ) market cap is about $81M at $13.37 per share at yesterday’s close. With $433M in debt, the enterprise value is $524M (Schwab).

Lee is teetering financially, and has been since it successfully but expensively fought off a late 2021 hostile takeover bid from Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund.

Alden owns The Virginian-Pilot, the Commonwealth’s largest daily, and the Daily Press on the Peninsula. It has been written that Alden’s business model is simple:

gut the staff, sell the real estate, jack up subscription prices, and wring out as much cash as possible.

We have already seen Lee Enterprises gut the staffs of its Virginia papers.

I haven’t tracked the real estate transactions, but now it is jacking up subscription prices to avoid selling its inventory or trying to obtain additional financing.

We’ve seen this play before. Continue reading