Thursday, December 10, 2009

300th Blogspot

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

The RailRunner is poised in the Santa Fe station for a southern trip at sunset during the most recent Legislative special session. The train, which I have written about several times, has been around almost as long as this blog.

I posted my first blogspot Tuesday, March 28, 2006, three years, eight plus months ago as part of an Electronic Publishing class project.

I posted the one-hundredth blogspot one year later on Wednesday, March 28, 2007.

I posted the two-hundredth blogspot on Thursday, March 6, 2008.

Now I post the three-hundredth blog 21 months later.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

The snow on these fall flowers at the end of October fell and melted within an hour are somewhat illustrative of how themes in my posting seem to play out. These thematic concepts don't fit the norm, yet exist, and though fleeting, they are captured and recorded for posterity. Often there are efforts to spin such observations to discount their significance.

I write this post to update my progress and to look at where I am against where I was. It’s a self-evaluation. I also look a little beyond what just happens on this blog to include what happens in my community of fellow journalists and bloggers.

The last 100 posts, I sense, have been more analytical and the time between posts has been extended. I seem to write closer to once a week on average than before. The length of the work seems longer and the analytical component greater.

I am not big on journalistic scoops. However, I break a story every once in a while. I reported Democratic State Senator Tim Eichenberg who was considering a run for lieutenant governor, had a discussion with current Lt. Gov. Diane Denish the uncontested Democratic candidate in next years governor gubernatorial race. Eichenberg indicated to a room full of people that he told Denish because of her “complacency or complicity with the ‘pay-to-play’” atmosphere surrounding the administration of Governor Bill Richardson, and her standing quietly behind him, Eichenberg was unwilling to invest a half million dollars in a losing campaign.

This report caused quite a stir, especially amongst Democrats. I have faced an onslaught of accusations against my reputation. Eichenberg told the Albuquerque Journal he did not know I was a blogger or that he was being interviewed.

Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer Sean Olson, left, wrote an article headlined, “Dem Joins Attacks on Denish?” Olson accepted Eichenberg at face value and published his smear of me. Olson didn’t do any fact checking, he didn’t ask anyone at the meeting if Eichenberg spoke openly. It is uncommon for the Journal to acknowledge a blog as an original source. However, Olson did write that the story originated on this site. In a later article he simply referred to the source as a blog.

A year ago, at a legislative orientation for newly elected lawmakers Eichenberg, right approached me and said he read and appreciated my blog for bringing issues to light in ways he would not have otherwise thought. He was one of four who said virtually the same thing that day.

I took what they said as the highest form of praise. If I have the law makers considering what I write, what more could I ask for in the public square?

The last hundred posts covered two political campaign seasons, the national primary and general election and the local mayoral election.

One of the best received political pictures was this shot of Alaskan Governor Sara Palin, flanked by her husband, Todd, and Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, both hitching up their pants. I’ll let the political psychologists explain what that body language means.

This photograph, taken Friday October 30, 2009, at noon just days after the municipal election denotes that there is more power than just the corner office of the eleventh floor, it denotes the power also resides in the number one parking spot in City Halls’ parking garage. It didn’t make it on my site because I withheld my cynical view that then Mayor Martin Chávez was literally out to lunch.

On election night 2009, City Attorney Bob White and former City Attorney David Campbell watch returns come in at election center in Council chamber. State Representative Richard R.J. Berry defeated incumbent Mayor Martin Chávez and former State Senate Pro Tem Richard Romero. Little would the average citizen be able to tell, from this picture, that White and Campbell would be major players in Berry's new administration; White remaining as City Attorney and David Campbell appointed chief administrative officer.

My photographic support of other bloggers also changed.

From August 2006 to January 2009 I provided photographs to “New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan,” we terminated our working arrangement. Here Monahan is hosting one of his election night radio shows on KANW 89.1 FM.

The Santa Fe Reporter tried to out Monahan’s unnamed sources, which he calls alligators. I was named in an article, but I never considered my self an alligator because I worked directly with Monahan, he used my photographs, I was upfront in my reporting. I didn’t need the cover of being an alligator to cover gossip. Just because Monahan didn’t always attribute my statements didn’t make me a swamp creature.

I picked up two other bloggers as clients.

I convinced KKOB 770’s Chief Political Reporter Peter St. Cyr, right, to put online complete interviews from which he could only air seconds long sound bites on radio. I offered to illustrate his work. Starting Thursday, October 9, 2008, “What's The Word with Peter St. Cyr,” went on line. He promoted it as an, “Audio blog featuring interviews with national, regional, state and local newsmakers.”

He would come to mutter and spit and blame me for dragging him into the dark world of blogging. However, he has thrived. He has given wider exposure for the true political junkies to the completed interviews. More recently he has expanded his own expertise in taking his own photographs and videos and as a result has expanded his outlets to being a contributor to Heath Haussamen on New Mexico Politics site and a correspondent on the local Public Broadcasting station, KNME’s Friday night’s “In-Focus.”

The other blogger is Ched MacQuigg’s Diogenes' six. He first published one of my picture’s Tuesday July 08, 2008. By September 30, 2008, he would regularly use my images. His site had been fairly limited to taking on the Albuquerque Public Schools and their Board of Education. Since using my pictures, MacQuigg has broadened his view and taken on the larger issues of ethics and open government at the federal, state and local levels.

I don’t always agree with all of MacQuigg’s premises, but under my belief in the First Amendment Right, I supply him with photographs from my archives.

MacQuigg and I have teamed up to provide video in collaboration with the New Mexico Independent in webcasting the Senate Rules committee hearings on proposed ethics bills with staffers Gwyneth Doland and Marjorie Childress.

We also provided service on the death penalty debate and the Senate’s own video coverage last session.

The rate of false and illegal arrests against me went up.

On May 24 2008, former Mayor Chávez had me physically removed from a press conference where he proposed an Ethical Public Service Act. Sponsored by Councillors Ken Sanchez and Don Harris, the bill was referred to the Finance and Government Operations Committee where it was postponed four times and deferred four times and expired on June 1, 2009. The bill would have repealed the existing Conflict of Interest Ordinance.

The introductory purpose was:
To Create A Value Based Ethics Code and Promote A Culture of Ethical Public Service For All City of Albuquerque Public Servant.
The irony of the stated purpose of the bill and my being ejected by police couldn’t have shown a more stark contrast.

The national blog, “Photography is Not a Crime It's a First Amendment Right,” written by Carlos Miller reported on two of these events; The US Secret Service throwing me out of the UNM Student Union Building for taking pictures, above, and being thrown out of a Diane Denish speech by UNM police from an event to which I had a formal invitation.

I faced UNM Police Officer D. Gallegos, right in each of these three photos, who told me I could not take pictures on campus.

I challenged him and he then told me I had to have permission to take pictures on campus.

I informed that there was a First Amendment and he relented. I took one more picture of him to prove the point.

My photographs are commercially available for journalistic publication. Only a few outlets have chosen to use my work. I don’t mind when publications decide not to use my work. Santa Fe Reporter’s David Maas, above left worked diligently to get me to illustrate his final lead story on electronic tracking of paroled sex offenders.

However, a number of entities, political campaigns in particular, have simply stolen my protected work off the internet and used the pictures in negative advertising.

Despite the hassle imposed by having to chase down the thievery, I will be continuing the blog. No bets on how long it will take to reach 400.

Of all the topics of which I write, obituaries are the most disconcerting. There were too many of them, 13 in 11 postings. However, it is an honor to report on the lives of those I knew. Hopefully there will be fewer.

Thanks for taking the time to read.


John said...

Welcome ...

Anonymous said...

Though I never comment, I do frequent your blog often since meeting you this past October. I am generally a woman of few words; however, today I felt like mentioning that I found your photograph of the flowers frosted with snow to be intriguingly stunning.

You are a fantastic photo-journalist and I enjoy your posts immensely.

I just thought I should speak up and let you know that.

~Amy Jo Roberts