In Memoriam: Death of a Mentor

Monday, September 6, 2021


Francis D. "Proinsias" Faulkner, PhD
I'm not quite sure what event or thought crossed my mind yesterday to cause me to think about him. I've been having a personal "quarrel" with social media (primarily Facebook) since the final days of the annus horribilis known to almost all of us as 2020. The constant skirmishes with people that I used to remember being somewhat smart and collegial had me pull away from my primary window to the outside world at the height of the worst pandemic event our planet has witnessed since the Spanish Flu outbreak just over 100 years ago. Scrolling through countless "shares" about the coronavirus, the conspiratorial aftermath of the then-recent US presidential election, and the toxic mingling of the two into incoherent uneducated gibberish pushed me to the point where I would only give the site occasional glances to check in on the lives of those I was connected with through that platform (I would later go even farther, removing all of my personal information except for my name). Because this 21st century version of the "town square" concept was the only way to keep tabs on some family members and close friends, I could not go through the final act of deleting the account completely.
When I was on good terms with Facebook, one of the things I looked forward to annually was the birthday greetings that would come flooding in from a good portion of the 500+ "friends" I have on that site. If one shares their birth date with the public, members can anticipate the well wishes to start (depending on where they lived) as early as the afternoon before the actual day and they would continue sometimes up to a few weeks later in the form of apologetic "belated" felicitations. From the time that we linked there up back in 2014, one of the first ones that would arrive for me would be from Francis (Frank) Faulkner, a man that I considered a mentor, a contemporary, as well as a friend who I met through my University of Massachusetts (UMass) journalism certificate program days. This "earlieness" was due to him taking up residence in the Philippines--12 hours ahead of the US Eastern time zone--in what turned out to be the final years of his most interesting life. Since I removed my data, none of my friends were reminded about my birthday (it's a day in June) and no greetings were received. As it turned out, I would not have received one from him this year anyway because of his passing in late May.

Double Debate Disappointment

Monday, September 5, 2016
This September presidential debate was supposed to be the pinnacle of my budding journalism career path but it was canceled (and moved to alternate location) back in mid-July.    

Like other significant emotional events we humans experience in our lives, I can vividly recall where I was when I first got word about Wright State University's 19 July decision to back out of the first presidential debate that was supposed to happen practically in my own backyard a few weeks from now. I was on a business trip out to North Dakota and was checking email on my smartphone after lunch before stowing it inside my car before entering a secure military facility. The cryptic teaser from the Dayton Daily News' app said that a "major announcement" was scheduled for 2pm that afternoon at the campus (I was an hour behind in the Central Time Zone) but no supporting information was provided prior to the event. It wasn't until I stepped out about an hour later to check for messages that I got to see just how devastating that press conference would be to the school, the local area and, on a personal level, to me.

In Memoriam: John McLaughlin

Sunday, August 21, 2016
One of the many iterations of the McLaughlin Group cast, as depicted in this Al Hirschfeld lithograph. Occupying the center is John McLaughlin with (clockwise) Eleanor Clift, Morton Kondracke, Fred Barnes, Jack Germond, and Clarence Page in his periphery (image courtesy of Margo Feiden Galleries Ltd., New York).

I wasn't completely surprised when I heard about the passing of political commentator John McLaughlin back on August 16th. News of his failing health, to include him missing the episode that was taped just four days prior--his first absence in the 34-year run of The McLaughlin Group television show, had come through my many social media feeds and helped softened the blow of hearing that he had succumbed to prostate cancer at the age of 89. I have not been a loyal viewer of late but a recent "peek-in" showed him looking rather gaunt and purposely placed in his host chair to perhaps provide as much comfort to him as possible. His voice sounded weaker but his mind--via the topics he personally chose--appeared to remain faithful to him right up to the very end. This recent imagery, however, does not do justice to the grandiose giant who changed how American political discourse was presented to the masses via the medium of television.

A/V: Clinton/Kaine Coach Cavalcade Concludes in Columbus

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Democratic running mates Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine wave to supporters at the end of their bus tour rally at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in Columbus, Ohio on July 31.

On July 31, Ohio's capital city played host to the conclusion of the Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine post-convention three-day bus tour swing through the nation's Rust Belt. Starting in the Philadelphia suburbs on July 29th, the nominees made several stops in central and western Pennsylvania before crossing over into the "Buckeye State" late on the evening of the 30th for a rally in Youngstown. After an impromptu stop at a Cleveland-area church and another at Ashland's Grandpa's Cheesebarn for a quick food break, their two buses rolled into the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center to an estimated crowd of over 5,000 enthusiastic spectators who waited nearly two hours beyond the scheduled start time.

A/V: Dems Debut Determined Dynamic Duo

Monday, July 4, 2016
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (left) locks hands with Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren at the start of a campaign rally held at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal on June 25th.

In a move that belies the importance of Ohio's role in the upcoming general election for president, the Democratic Party offered up two of their most influential members during a 90-minute campaign rally at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal this past Monday. Presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, making her third appearance in the Buckeye State within a two-week span, was greeted by an overflow capacity crowd that had already been warmed up by fiery remarks from the campaign's most recent and most progressive surrogate, Massachusetts freshman senator Elizabeth Warren.

A/V: Clinton Castigates Competitor's Corporate Credentials

Thursday, June 23, 2016
Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton delivers an economic speech that savaged her Republican opponent's business record on Tuesday at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in Columbus, Ohio.

In a national display to show just how important the "Buckeye State" is for the Democratic Party keeping control of the White House for the next four years, its capital served as their presumptive presidential nominee's venue to stake her claim for being a better steward of the nation's economy than her expected Republican rival come the fall. Employing a delivery style that featured both snark and sobriety, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provided a sharp lambasting of the business resume of her general election challenger, New York businessman Donald Trump, during an address given Tuesday afternoon at Columbus' Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center.

A/V: 2016 SPJ Region 4 & 5 Spring Conference

Sunday, May 8, 2016
Cincinnati, Ohio's "Queen City", served as the host for this year's Society of Professional Journalists' joint regional spring conference in April

Perhaps it was the notification I received in my email inbox on Monday that thanked me for attending. Maybe it was Tuesday's observance of World Press Freedom Day that I saw continuously featured on my Google News feed. Or perhaps I'm energized by that evening's primary election rhetoric and the historic nature of the choice made by Indiana's Republican voters. Whatever the reason, I knew I had been putting off posting about this event for far too long. Three week-long out-of-state business trips intermixed with my regular hometown office responsibilities and a slight seasonal cold have put me slightly over 30 days behind in documenting my experiences at this annual gathering of rising young stars from journalism academia. With the 2013, 2014 and last year's conference under my belt, my streak continued with this year's offering held at Cincinnati's Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center on a blustery April day.

A/V: Buckeyes Feel the "Bern" at Sanders' Columbus Rally

Monday, March 14, 2016
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders addresses enthusiastic attendees at his rally at the Ohio State University's Schottenstein Center on Sunday evening in Columbus, Ohio.

Just two days before a potentially close and contentious Ohio primary election, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders held an enthusiastic rally in Columbus on Sunday evening to capitalize on the momentum gained in last week's surprise victory in neighboring Michigan. Already in the state's capital for two other events later in the evening, his campaign hosted this gathering for over 7,000 supporters at the Ohio State University's Schottenstein Center to advocate his own political positions as well as contrast them against those held by the Republican presidential candidates and his own party's primary opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A/V: Trump Holds Raucous Republican Rally

Saturday, March 12, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters at a rally held at Wright Brothers Aero in Vandalia, Ohio on Saturday morning.

With Ohio's Republican primary election less than four days away, another high profile politician paid a visit to the Miami Valley to garner support from the region's electorate. On Saturday morning, billionaire businessman Donald Trump flew in to the Dayton International Airport to appear at an rally held at the adjacent Wright Brothers Aero facility in Vandalia, Ohio. An overflow crowd of several thousand people greeted the current Republican delegate leader in his attempt to boost his totals and to clear an easier path to securing the party's nomination at their June convention in Cleveland.

A/V: Buckeye Boss Buoyed by Balloting Bounce

Friday, March 11, 2016
Ohio governor John Kasich begins his town hall event in support of his recently surging presidential campaign at the Fuyao Glass America plant in Moraine, Ohio on Friday evening.

Encouraged by improving polling data that indicates a tightening of Ohio's Republican presidential primary race, Governor John Kasich started a 4-day, 10-event trek across the Buckeye State in a bid to continue his White House bid past next Tuesday's elections. After a visit to Lima earlier in the day, the candidate made a stop in the Miami Valley on Friday evening to conduct a town hall meeting attended by over 800 people at the Fuyao Glass America plant located in the Dayton suburb of Moraine.

A/V: "Big Dog" Barnstorms for Bride

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Former President Bill Clinton stumps for his wife's presidential campaign at the Montgomery County Democratic Party's annual Frolic for Funds dinner in Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday night.

In the first of several high profile political visits to the Miami Valley prior to next Tuesday's Ohio presidential primary, the Montgomery County Democratic Party welcomed former president Bill Clinton to speak at the start of its annual Frolic for Funds dinner at the Dayton Convention Center on Wednesday night. This event was the last of three appearances Clinton made in the state throughout the day in support of his wife's current Democratic presidential campaign that is running in a competitive race against that of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Mayor Nan Whaley provided brief remarks to the overflow crowd prior to introducing the meal's guest speaker.

Soap Box: The Fall Race We Deserve (But Probably Won't See)

Monday, February 1, 2016
While Clinton and Kasich are their respective parties' most qualified candidates this campaign season, their capabilities are being eclipsed by voters' preference for style over substance.

Our copy of The New York Times arrived on the driveway early yesterday morning and, because of the  current internet-based paradigm of "pushing" news before it's seen in print, I already knew what it contained regarding today's Iowa caucuses. On the eve of this long-awaited start to the 2016 presidential primary process, the paper's editorial board announced its choices for endorsements--the time-honored political practice of publicly bestowing support to or approval of a person or position. With a long history of endorsing presidential candidates that goes back to Abraham Lincoln's first run for the White House in 1860 (and an overall 61 percent--24  out of 39 times backing the winner--accuracy rating for those general elections), the receipt of  "The Gray Lady's" auspicious sanction was seen by many politicians as a needed boost to a flagging campaign or as yet another example of the inevitability of their cause or candidacy to the voting public. In today's social media-dominated world where everyone can have a platform and express an opinion, newspaper endorsements have diminished in importance but are still seen as "bellwethers" to gauge support within the media "establishment".

A/V: Dayton MLK Day Observances

Monday, January 18, 2016
Bundled-up participants march along West Third Street towards the Dayton Convention Center on Monday morning to observe the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.

Single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chill warnings did not stop several hundred members of the greater Dayton community from marching and assembling on Monday morning to commemorate the life of  the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on the 30th anniversary of the federal holiday and the 87th anniversary of his birth. The march and rally were two of eight January events sponsored by MLK Dayton Inc., a multi-racial, multi-ethnic organization established to inspire citizens to act on the vision of social justice created by the legacy of the slain civil rights advocate.

A/V: GOP "Architect" Visits Dayton

Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Republican political consultant and policy strategist Karl Rove speaks at a book signing event at Books-A-Million in Beavercreek, Ohio on Sunday afternoon.

For an hour this past Sunday afternoon, many at an Ohio bookstore gathering were introduced to an American presidential election held in in the late 19th century to help them gain perspective on the very interesting political atmosphere in the present day. Karl Rove, a former deputy chief of staff in the George W. Bush administration and a man whose name is ubiquitous within Republican political circles, visited the Beavercreek, Ohio Books-A-Million store to sign copies of his latest book The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters.

A/V: Carson Rally at Cedarville University

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Dr. Ben Carson speaks to attendees at a rally held for the Republican presidential candidate at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio on Tuesday afternoon.

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson made a campaign swing through southeast Ohio on Tuesday to help bolster his rising favorability polling numbers after a respectable showing during last week's second GOP debate. Sandwiched between a morning event in the Cincinnati surburb of Sharonville and an evening Right to Life Foundation fundraiser in Dayton, he paid a visit to the campus of Cedarville University located in the shared named Greene County village. The Baptist evangelical school provided the appropriate backdrop for Carson to share views on his life, faith and  politics to the capacity crowd assembled in the Dixon Ministry Center's Jeremiah Chapel. Prior to the start of the rally, Dr. Carson took questions from media members outside that venue during a 15-minute press availability where he further elaborated about comments made during a Sunday interview with Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press television program concerning religious criteria for presidential contenders .