Blogging, a New Journalistic Medium

Blogs are becoming a new journalistic medium. And to state the obvious, nationally, some blogs have become very powerful.

Last week, when the Newburyport Daily News called to do their story on blogs, what came to my mind was Bill Moyers’ interview with national blogger, Josh Marshall, who broke the Alberto Gonzales story. (Please press here if you would like to read a transcript of that interview.)

I know I’ve said this before, and a similar quote was in the story by Steven Tait in yesterday’s Newburyport Daily News, but I really like Ed Cameron’s and Bruce Menin’s blogs. And the more I think about it, the more that I think that the blog medium would be a pretty amazing way for voters to get to know their candidates. And help them make an informed decision on how they would like to vote.

(All the Newburyport candidates’ blogs and websites for the election, November 6, 2007, that I know of, are listed at the side of the Newburyport Blog. If I do not know about a candidate’s blog or website, please let me know, and I will list it on the Newburyport Blog ASAP.)

And I am fascinated to see how national blogs, as well local blogs would evolve.

And since there are a variety of blogs popping up, what I have learned in the last almost 2 years of blogging, is that all bloggers, candidates or otherwise, need to be really careful.

Bloggers are considered “publishers” and have all the responsibilities of the New York Times, but in most cases, they do not have the resources, legal and otherwise of the New York Times. (See “Publishing” category in the “Issues” section on the side of the Newburyport Blog.) Especially as blogging becomes more prevalent and more mainstream and blogs become more of a challenge, in any number of ways.

To have blogger, Josh Marshall, break the Alberto Gonzales story, with all the political ramifications that have taken place as a result, is huge. And many folks, including major media folks and politicians, check out Josh Marshall’s blog “Talking Points Memo”, the first thing in the morning, or the last thing at night.

This is a big difference in the blogosphere, even from just a year ago.

So, bloggers out there, give yourself a crash course on the legal issues about blogging.

There is a lot of stuff on legal issues now for bloggers on the World Wide Web. And the legal issues are constantly changing as the blogging medium evolves.

And bloggers out there in Blog Land (including me!), please blog with knowledge and with care.

Mary Eaton

Hot-linking and Copyright Violations

One of the things that I have found blogging the Newburyport Blog now for almost 2 years (Wow… hard to believe) is that my “stuff” gets used all over the World Wide Web without my permission and, many times without acknowledgment or a link back to the Newburyport Blog.

I gotta tell you, this really, really pisses me off.

Here’s a photo:

Photograph of Inn Street, Newburyport, MA
with copyright information
(Mary Baker Eaton © 2007)

Yup, you got it, it has copyright stuff and the name and address of the blog all over it. (The Inn Street photo seems to be particularly popular.)

And yup, it’s for a reason. If folks are going to download stuff or “hot-link” it– “linking” an image instead of downloading it, I have a few options.

One, is to remove the image all together (and since I’ve put time and effort into gathering up a myriad of images for the readers of the Newburyport Blog to enjoy, I hate to get rid of them.)

Two, do what a lot of bloggers do, which is replace the picture being found elsewhere with another image that tells whoever it is, where to go, and it’s usually where the sun does not shine (this is done with images that are “linked” or “hot-linked… I can’t believe that I actually know this kind of stuff now. Gesh.). I’ve seen some of these and they are pretty creative, but not exactly quite my style.

Three, try and get in touch with whoever. And surprisingly, this is not always so easy, and often not so fun. And if successful, often requests are ignored or stonewalled.

Or, four, voila, have copyright and info scattered all over the image, as in the example above. (Which doesn’t do much for the image.)

So those of you out there in Web-Land who might be “borrowing” stuff, please make sure that whatever it is that might be being “borrowed,” from wherever it may be being borrowed from, please make sure it would not be copyrighted.

And (and believe you me, for those of you who have been following the Newburyport Blog, I never thought I would be on this end of this comment, and this one is way ironic) using an image that is copyrighted is illegal, a copyright violation, and is against the law.

It is my understanding that to use a copyrighted image from any place, written permission is required along with the proper acknowledgement. A link back to the place where the image is found and a “thank you” does not hurt either.

Plus this technique is just plain classy and thoughtful and very much appreciated by whoever happens to have the image in the first place.

(And, for a variety of reasons, there are times when permission is not always granted.)

Oh readers of the Newburyport Blog, thank you for your patience on this particular topic. Who knew, not moi, that such things as “hot-linking” would be discussed in such depth on the Newburyport Blog. Good grief.

Mary Eaton

Messy Municipal Process

I’ve read (I think) a number of times in the Newburyport Daily News and at least once on Bruce Menin’s Blog that the electorate is impatient with the Newburyport School Committee and would like them to hurry up and make decisions.

As I recall, I have read these words or similar words, from “Yes for Newburyport” members (pro-override group for the Newburyport Schools).

And a number of “Yes for Newburyport” folks are running for Newburyport School Committee.

Unfortunately, running a municipality is a slow and messy business.

John Moak hoped to come in as Mayor of Newburyport, MA and clear up the Central Waterfront and parking issues ASAP, and what he found was, nope, not so easy to do.

In fact Mr. Moak’s opponent in the November 6th election, Jim Stiles, is a pro-waterfront, less-parking on the waterfront candidate. So much for easy, no hassle solutions.

And if one, some or all of the “Yes” folks get elected to the Newburyport School Committee, I imagine they would find that, yes indeed, this is not a CEO, let’s make a decision now sort of thing.

Having the honor of serving as an elected official is about public process and public input, which is almost always muddled and chaotic.

And if that public input could be short-changed, look out. Whatever decision was made, almost always backfires.

In fact, I hate to say it, but it’s almost always best to have too much public input than not enough, especially on hot-button issues.

And the since the special spring election for the override for the Newburyport schools, unfortunately, (in part, in my opinion, due to a hurried decision–an example of a quick decision backfiring big time) the Newburyport Schools have become a very polarizing issue in this small New England city.

So whoever wins the election for Newburyport School Committee would, I imagine, need to ask for the “Wisdom of Solomon,” because that, and public process, is what it is going to take to start to resolve the conundrum that is facing our Newburyport city schools.

Mary Eaton

(Editor’s note: The folks running for Newburyport School Committee for the election on November 6, 2007 are: Nicholas Dekanter, Scott Frisch, Tracey Hurst, Barbara McDonough, Bruce Menin, Stephanie Weaver.)

Single-Issue Elections and Politics

I have an old friend Frank Schaeffer (the same Frank Schaeffer who, with Jerry Klima and others, helped stop the Casino at Salisbury Beach–see earlier entry) who has just written a book.

The book, is about many things, and one of the things it is about is how only focusing on one issue in an election can really mess things up.

The book is called “Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.” (The original subtitle was “How I Helped Found the Religious Right and Ruin America”… I loved that one, but I guess it didn’t make it.)

I’ve known Frank and his wife Genie for 35 years (this dates me big time). And one of the things I like so much about Frank’s writing is his sense of humor, self-deprecation and his wonderful and often moving off-beat view of the world.

Reading the book, I had forgotten how involved Frank had been in national politics, which probably explains why he is so amazing when he gets involved in local politics. (In fact, Frank was my original political mentor in the fight to save High Street. Please press here to read that post.)

To quote from Frank Schaeffer’s book:

“…single-issue politics deforms the process and derails common sense. It facilitates the election of leaders just because they are “correct on “my issue.”

Frank is talking about national stuff, but for me, the same principal could most definitely apply on the local level.

I worry that the upcoming Newburyport elections (November 6, 2007) could for some, be “single-issue politics.” The most obvious issue that comes to mind is how a candidate stands on an override for the Newburyport Schools.

One of my concerns, is that one of the reasons that there was such a low turnout for the primary for Mayor of Newburyport, MA, was that possibly the folks that came out for the election for the spring Override for the Newburyport Schools who were for the override, might NOT have voted in the mayoral primary race. Because all the candidates said that they would not be for another spring override (i.e. it could be a none-issue).

And when it comes to the Newburyport City Council race, it appears that often the bottom line is– would or would you not be for an override in Newburyport, MA.

Single-issue elections negate the reality that running a municipality is a very complicated and interwoven proposition.

And it also appears to me that it could be a selfish way to engage in the political process. “I only vote if the issue happens to affect my life. Otherwise, I’m not interested.” (Disclaimer… Obviously this does not apply to all voters.)

Mary Eaton

Responsibility of Realtors and Historic Assets

I remember when the concept of having a “great room” with an open kitchen first became popular. I thought to myself, that’s not a bad idea AND an addition like that could be added onto an historic home without (depending on whether or not one might be a purist) destroying the integrity of the historic home itself.

BUT… When the idea of large, spa-like bathrooms started to emerge, and the “must have” huge master suites, and large walk-in closets started to take hold, I thought “Oh dear. Ut-oh.”

And not to forget cathedral ceilings.

Disclaimer… I like all of these things. I like houses with all of these things.

The problem is that they are at odds with historic homes in historic places like Newburyport, Massachusetts.

And if one tries to put these elements in an historic home, it’s a pretty good guess, that the historic significance of said home could be diminished, if just not outright destroyed.


And that appears, not to state the obvious, to be what has been happening to historic houses and homes in Newburyport, MA for years.

There is a dwelling on Federal Street that had the most gorgeous historic interior features, which just recently have been ripped out. It would be my guess that the characteristics mentioned above would be a priority, over being a good steward of irreplaceable historic elements.

And I imagine that that is why when I went to the Open House with the beautiful and original historic features (see earlier entry), the realtor (nice human being) was so apologetic.

The realtor, I believe was apologetic, because the feedback that the realtor had gotten from other realtors was that the home didn’t have stuff like a large spa-like bathroom and walk-in closets.

It is my own opinion that for years realtors have had tremendous power and say over what happens to historic properties in Newburyport, MA.

And it would be my greatest wish that instead of encouraging developers to put in building components that would work very well in a place, let’s say like in the suburbs of Austin Texas, that they might encourage the developer/builder to be stewards of our historic assets here in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

After all, in the long run, it is Newburyport’s historic assets that are the base of our economic vibrancy. And it is our historic assets that make Newburyport such an great place in which to live, visit, work and play.

Mary Eaton

Wards and Politics in Newburyport, MA

I was sitting in a Newburyport City Council subcommittee meeting once. It was over a particular issue, and one councilor there was keeping track of which Wards the people (it was jammed) spoke from.

This puzzled me. This puzzled me a lot.

And it’s not until recently that I’ve begun to figure that one out.

A lot of the folks who spoke were from Ward 1 and 2. And I thought, so what?

But now I am beginning to understand. Ward 1, 2 and 3 are the “liberal” wards. And Ward 4, 5, and 6 are the “conservative” wards.

Another light bulb is going on for this blogger.

(I think the Newburyport city councilor was noting that the comments were mainly coming from the “liberal” wards. And the thought would be, that the comments would not represent the city as a whole.)

And many people ask me who do I think would win for mayor of Newburyport, MA.

And looking at the primary votes for mayor of Newburyport, MA, this is what I think.

Dan McCarthy’s votes, and Steve Cole’s votes would probably be divided between “liberal” and “conservative” voters.

Mayor John Moak sailed in the “conservative” Wards of 4, 5 and 6.

It was closer in Wards 1, 2 and 3.

So, my thought is, if Jim Stiles would win for mayor of Newburyport, MA, Mr. Stiles would, I believe, have to win or do very, very well in the more liberal Wards of 1, 2 and 3. And get a good percentage of the votes in the “conservative” Wards of 4, 5 and 6.

Mary Eaton

Backyard and the Drought Thing

I thought the “drought” thing was over. But no, apparently it’s not.

I figured the rain we just had took care of everything and no more watering for moi. Whew.

But I looked out my window late yesterday afternoon as I was cooking, and the green stuff out there, like the shrubs, looked like they were all wilty and parched looking again.

So I said, “Wait a minute,” to the broccoli that I was cooking and I ran outside to take a look.

Sure enough my back yard is crunchy and like the Sahara one more time. And if shrubs could wail, they would wail, “Could you please get out the darn hose and give us a good long drink. We are literally die’n here.”

Ok, so I’m listening to my darn shrubs do the “shrub wail” thing.

Since it had gotten “chilly” lately, I figured the water would be freezing. But it wasn’t. The water to water the shrubs and stuff was actually warm.

I guess this could tell me something, but I’m not sure exactly what.

So it turned out to be Ok to stand out there and water the stuff with the warm water coming out of the hose and with the sun going down and the late afternoon to evening becoming cool to chilly.

And my self-sustaining pets (see earlier entries), “my” finches, I don’t think any of them showed up yesterday. And only a couple of them showed up two days ago. I think it’s getting to be that time when all of a sudden they disappear, like to fly south.

Bye-bye self-sustaining pets.

Mary Eaton