Saturday, June 30, 2007

Strange News Day at the Tribune

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is KOB TV’s Nicole Brady, co-hosting Eye on New Mexico with Dennis Domrzalski. She just got married in the past few weeks to a producer at KOB, Brian Close. Their wedding was featured on the front page of Monday’s Albuquerque Tribune with a side bar about planning your own wedding and the Inn where theirs took place.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

This is Craig Fritz, one of the Tribune’s ace photographers who photographed the wedding that took place in Algodones, at the Hacienda Vargas Bed and Breakfast Inn. Fritz, seen here contemplating his next photograph at Democratic Headquarters, last November when Patricia Madrid conceded defeat to New Mexico District 1’s congressional seat, is also one of the better wedding photographers in the area, who teams-up with his photographer-wife, Kitty Clark-Fritz. They operate Twin Lens Image, from their home in Algodones. They are both award winning photojournalists who do beautiful work.

Brady is one of those people whom everybody seems to like, but the idea that a wedding of a popular TV news anchor rates “above the fold treatment” on a Monday afternoon begs the question, what’s going on at the Tribune?

Later in the day, managing editor Kate Nelson, an 18-year veteran political reporter at the Tribune announced that she was going to work for Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, as deputy chief of staff and communications director.

The Tribune has faced a continuing decrease in readership and now has a circulation of less than 10,000.

In most towns the size of Albuquerque, an afternoon paper with 10,000 readers would be non-existent.

But here, the Journal and Tribune operate under what is called a joint operating agreement. The two papers are under the same roof with two separate editorial staffs. Virtually everything else is shared: the press, the circulation department, the delivery trucks and carriers, the advertising and profits. The Tribune’s parent company, Scripps, gets 40 percent. Consider that the Journal has a little over 100,000 weekday readers; the Tribune is getting 40 percent for less than 10 percent of the output.

If this sounds like some kind of a monopolistic operation; it is. It also is Supreme Court approved.

The larger question is, what does it do to the quality of the newsgathering and delivery in our community? Is the front-page story of a popular media celebrity going to become the norm, where we get what might be best described as an infomercial, advertising wedding photographers and local Bed and Breakfast Inns?


This is Peter Rice, left, the Tribune’s city hall reporter at a city council meeting getting an amendment to a bill from the council’s staff. He is with Jim Ludwick, center, of the Journal and Laura Sanchez of the Weekly Alibi.

Thursday evening, Price called me looking for an archived picture of the city’s Chief Financial Officer Gail Reese. I had the picture. I asked what the story was and he gave me the standard Tribune response; it’ll cost 50 cents to read it tomorrow. He said it was a good story and I would like it.

The Tribune used this picture of Reese, left, addressing the City Council in the lead story on the front page of Friday’s edition, entitled; “Called out Familiar voice strokes mayor's ego -- agenda? -- on his radio show.”

Reese called Chávez’ KKOB 770 radio show June 16, using only the name “Linda.”

Chávez said he was going to the phones and called Reese, “Linda, thanks for your patience."

"Oh, I'm a very patient soul," Linda said, "except when we're talking about the City Council. What is wrong with those people? They don't want to give me a tax cut. They want to give the county $9 million, no questions asked. And then they want to do a pay raise? You've got to just keep vetoing this stuff, mayor."

The implication of Tribune article is that Chávez’ minions still engage in sleazy politics. Chávez’ propaganda efforts are reminiscent of President Richard Nixon’s “Dirty Tricks” squad with Donald Segretti’s “Rat F***king,” or screwing up his perceived opposition or by using puffery to make himself seem omnipotent.

It raises several questions: What is the Mayor doing with his own program, "the Mayor Martin Chávez show," that airs, Saturdays, 1 p.m.-1:45 p.m., on commercial radio? What impact does it have on how KKOB 770, a news station, covers Chávez? Does a media outlet have to provide Chávez direct access in order to be able to cover him? Chávez has his own television show on government access television GOV TV cable channel 16, Mayor's Open Line. He meets regularly with the Journal's editorial staff in a private press conference, yet won't provide access to electronic journalists.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Dash Home

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Goose and goslings feeding in a public park at the north end of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

A frontier style fort like building that houses the offices of Attorney Gerry Spence. Spence is a famous lawyer with a reputation of taking on high profile clients, including: former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, Randy Weaver, a white separatist involved in a shootout with the FBI in Idaho and was a member of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team.” He claims to have never lost a criminal case.

The Corral Motel neon-sign, in Afton, Wyoming.

World’s largest Elkhorn arch, Afton, Wyoming.

Concrete molded to look like a cowboy and cowgirl are holding up the bench in Afton, Wyoming.


Signal man on an Idaho road construction project.

“Watch For Rocks” signs are one of the most common roadside warnings; here the sign means it. A huge pile of rocks covers opposing lanes of traffic along the Montpelier Canyon Rd. construction project in Idaho between Geneva and Montpelier.

A patriotically clad signal man throws a peace sign at the other end of the road construction project.

An abandoned church at Ovid, Idaho.

Hotel Paris in Paris, Idaho had faded paint announcing “English spoken.”

The Bear Lake County courthouse in Paris, Idaho.

The jury-box in Bear Lake County courtroom.

The Bear Lake County courtroom.

A little trivia fact I picked up; Idaho is the only state in the union that had never been part of or claimed by another country.


The art on wood shows up again, this time not on a table, but at the sink in the men’s room at the Golden Spike National Historic Park at Promontory Point, Utah.

The park has a historic display of the two replicated engines that met to drive the Golden Spike linking the east and west coasts by rail on May 10, 1869.

The Jupiter, representing the Central Pacific Railroad, on the left, had laid 960 miles of track through the Sierra Nevada, while the Union Pacific Railroad, represented by engine No. 119 laid 1,086 miles of track. Congress had granted loans and provided that the railroad would get 10 sections of land for every mile of track they laid.

There is a self-guided auto tour that offers visitors a view of how the railroad was built. Here the road is over the Union Pacific grade at Promontory Hollow, with the Great Salt Lake visible in the background.

The Central Pacific crews laid 10 miles in a day in a $10,000 bet as a response to the Union Pacific having laid six miles in a day. The Union Pacific was unable to attempt to out do that feat because the remaining distance was over the roughest terrain it had yet encountered.

The Union Pacific Railroad engine No. 119 replica switching tracks during a demonstration of the technology that brought together the continent.

Across the hill from the National Park site is another kind of world shrinking technological display. Morton Thiokol and ATK, an advanced weapon and space systems company, show examples of their hardware in a rocket garden.

Included on display is a solid rocket booster for the Space Shuttle, communications satellite rockets and the Trident Ballistic missile.

A billboard announcing the recent accomplishment of placing the Space Shuttle in orbit and the pending launch of a Delta II Gem 40 rocket.

A current Union Pacific freight train about 30 miles east of Promontory Point, near Brigham City.

The sun sets in the rearview mirror along the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway.

New Mexico

Cabezon Peak in the Rio Puerco valley. Part of the Navajo legend of the twins, the originators of the people, who fought and killed the “Giant.” Mount Taylor, one of the four sacred Navajo mountains, is where the giant died. The Malpais lava flow was thought by the ancients as being the blood of the giant. Cabezon was the giants severed head.

Zia Pueblo at the base of the Jemez mountain range means my home is around the corner.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Yellowstone and the Grand Teton

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

The Roosevelt Gate at the north end of Yellowstone National Park ushers visitors into an area of arid conditions. Called the Serengeti of the park, after Africa’s national park and game reserve, for its diverse collection of different species of animals and plants.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Bighorn Sheep Ewes.

The seemingly ever-present park ranger materializes any time people stop to view and photograph the animals.

Youngsters from several families pose with rangers at the Mammoth Hot Springs visitor’s center, where they display their junior park ranger patches after being sworn in.


Elk feeding.

Bison foraging in burned out area.

Geothermal activity.

Sunset on the road from Norris to Yellowstone Lake.

An elk climbs out of the Yellowstone River after swimming across it at dusk.

The cabin room at Yellowstone Lodge; it was Spartan, comfortable and expensive.

The quilt on the bed at the Yellowstone Lodge cabin.

I wouldn’t normally show you the toiletries, but in Yellowstone the bar of soap is shaped like a bear. They must be very popular because they are sold at the gift shops for 99 cents.

Open the door in the morning and there’s Yellowstone Lake.

The view of Yellowstone Lake from the main dinning room window at the Lake Hotel.

Etched glass on the gift shop door and found throughout the public areas of the Yellowstone Lake Hotel.

An ornate drinking fountain at the Yellowstone Lake Hotel.

Leaving the Lake Hotel and there is a Bison grazing not more than a 100 yards from where I slept.

Yellowstone Lake is part of the giant caldera of the Yellowstone volcano. It is a super volcano that is past due to erupt. Scientists speculate that when it does erupt it will darken earth’s skies for years and devastate the world as we know it.

A black Bear.

The proverbial “Ranger Smith” making sure that “Yogi Bear” and park visitors don’t get into any disputes over a “Picinic Basket.”

Visitors explore the park by all sorts of means.

Old Faithful Lodge’s grand view of the geyser.

Old Faithful Lodge’s fireplace.

Old Faithful Lodge’s grandfather clock.

Old Faithful Geyser.

Old Faithful Lodge’s anticipation for the next eruption is posted in the lobby.

You know your eating in Yellowstone by the artwork on the table.

Grand Teton National Park

Black Bear sighting.

Young Ranger assuring safety at a bear sighting.

Well-equipped Park Ranger, including rubber boat for possible river rescue. To date, and in part, due to low runoff, there have been no river rescues.

OK, you go find the tripod holes of Ansel Adams and Minor White and hope for good light. You take what you get; a gray day.

Indian paintbrush and other flora.