The "Tsunami" of SOTU Coverage

Thursday, January 30, 2014
Probably the only vantage point that wasn't shown on a wide variety of viewing options--from the floor of the US House of Representatives. (photo courtesy of

Due to guidance provided within Article II and the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution (thanks to The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd for bringing that last item to light during the trivia question segment of Wednesday's show), political junkies like me love the latter part of January (or as late as mid-February as was the case in 2013) because that means that the annual President's State of the Union Address is right around the corner.  In a tradition that dates back to George Washington's address to Congress in 1790, the head of the executive branch provides the legislative branch with an update on the conditions within the nation for the upcoming year.  While switched to a written communication by Thomas Jefferson in 1801, the in-person version was resurrected by Woodrow Wilson in 1913 and he expanded it to include a blueprint for the administration's legislative agenda.  In 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt helped brand this speech as the "State of the Union" and establish a permanent tradition for presidential presentations on Capitol Hill (1946 was the last year that a president--Harry Truman--did not appear in-person).

Soap Box: Bus Stops and MLK Day

Friday, January 24, 2014
A Dayton Regional Transit Authority bus stops along Pentagon Boulevard in Beavercreek, Ohio.

Monday was the 29th observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our nation's most recently established federal holiday and an occasion to commemorate the accomplishments and enduring legacy of the late civil rights leader.  As the "newbie", it does not have the universal recognition of the "first tier" holidays like those near the end of the year (Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day) or the summer observances (Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day).  While supposedly equally important, the remainder of the ten official federal holidays (MLK Day, Washington's Birthday, Columbus Day and Veterans Day) linger in a "limbo" status in corporate and non-federal circles.  Companies that I have worked for in the past covered them with a "floating holiday" policy that allowed employees to decide which of these to take off  (or to substitute for another with more personal connections to them--i.e. a cultural or religious day).  That inconsistency was observed in my town with the military base and schools being closed but garbage/recycling collection continuing as normally scheduled.

A/V: Democrat Duo Debuts in Dayton

Sunday, January 19, 2014
Ed FitzGerald and Sharen Neuhardt (center left to right, respectively), Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, wave to supporters at the conclusion of their Dayton, Ohio rally on Saturday afternoon.

Just one day after making the announcement, Cuyahoga County Executive and current Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald formally introduced Dayton-area attorney Sharen Neuhardt as his gubernatorial running mate in front of approximately 150 enthusiastic supporters at that city's Cultural and RTA Transfer Center on Saturday afternoon.  Each were warmly welcomed by recently elected Democratic mayor Nan Whaley and both took turns attacking the policies of incumbent Republican governor John Kasich during the nearly three-quarter hour event.

Morning News Review - 'CBS This Morning'

Saturday, January 18, 2014
[NOTE: this is the third--and sadly last--of an originally anticipated five-part series critiquing morning news offerings from US broadcast and cable news providers that I started back in June 2012.  Like the others, I will provide my take on the composition, the hosts, the 'aesthetics', and any overt/covert 'messaging' that might be present and meant to attract your attention at the breakfast table.]

SHOWCBS This Morning
DATE/TIMES:  7 January 2014/0700-0730
LOCATION: CBS Broadcast Center, New York, NY
HOSTS: Charlie Rose (co-host), Norah O'Donnell (co-host), Gayle King (co-host)
CORRESPONDENTS: Dean Reynolds (Chicago, IL), Rebekka Schramm (affiliate/Atlanta, GA), Elaine Quijano (LaGuardia International Airport, NY), Megan Glaros (affiliate/Chicago, IL), John Blackstone (San Francisco, CA), Major Garrett (White House), Elizabeth Palmer (Amman, Jordan)

FLOW:  The show started promptly at 7AM with a quick three-toned graphic-assisted intro followed by strings/horns playing through the anchor's greetings and a zoom-in to the center of the studio.  Charlie Rose started off the top news items with mentioning the record Arctic blast going through the mid-sections (and approaching the eastern regions) of the country.  Norah O'Donnell brought up the BCS championship football game played the previous evening and also provided a "teaser" for a segment on the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas that would be aired later in the two-hour broadcast.

Soap Box: A Minor Mistake Eclipsed Some Major Stories

Monday, January 13, 2014
[NOTE: football and car problems kept me away from the keyboard this past weekend...0 for 2 is not a good start.]

A small military office's inadvertently released email drew my attention away from last week's major media attractions.

In our current 24/7 non-stop, constantly churning information cycle, media proprietors are constantly on the lookout for significant activities to populate their already purchased time or inches or bandwidth in order to attract audiences and keep their financial backers off of theirs. It is a very good week if two high profile and multifaceted stories can generate enough attention to get them through the Monday through Friday period (and provide adequate fodder for the Sunday morning "talking head" shows).  Remarkably, last week had three "buzzworthy" items that dominated those cycles (when the 2014 North American Cold Wave is included) but it was a very small item from my news aggregator that has me ignoring them and dedicating this week's column to highlight its importance.

Soap Box: Same Old, Same "Auld Lang Syne" in DC

Monday, January 6, 2014
[NOTE: "Soap Box" is my initial attempt at creating a weekly opinion-based column. I will focus primarily on politics, national security, and the media but I can't rule out commenting on some of the "silly" things that seem to capture our national attention from time to time.  I am hoping that this can become a full-time gig for me--wish me luck!]

The start of a new calendar year normally initiates two reflective activities in our society--a review of the just-completed 12-month span and a preview of the upcoming 365-day period.  Due to the nature of our country's political systems and schedules, Congress will get the lion's share of attention as it slogs its way through the second half of a very disappointing two-year term.  While achieving high marks in terms of hyperbole, political theater and partisanship, it is failing in what the voters sent those members there to do--legislate!

2014 is shaping up to be a lot like 2013 was on Capitol Hill -- unproductive!

My Year of Application

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Greetings to all of my readers, followers, former classmates and friends on this first day of 2014, or as I am branding it "My Year of Application".  As I said at the close of my last blog update of 2013, I declared completion with my Certificate in Journalism program through the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the physical certificate is in the process of being delivered to me sometime in the next five-to-ten school business days.  Over the past 28 months, I've become formally acquainted with the fundamentals of journalism, did some newswriting and reporting, learned about the current online environment, reviewed ethical considerations, practiced some public relations writing, expanded my photojournalism confidence levels and, lastly, dabbled in opinion writing (to supplement my near lifelong following of these subjects).  Throughout that period, I posted some of my coursework submissions here to serve as waypoints to measure my personal progress towards the certificate completion goal.