Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Young People Are Our Hope

Mary Ellen Elia's dog Tiny

Rebecca, use my name by all means. I never say anything that I won't sign my name to.

You might want to get in touch with one of my best friends, Andrea Brunais, who graduated from USF's journalism school and had a career in journalism starting with the old evening Tampa Times; then she was editorial page editor at the Tallahassee Democrat, I think, after writing editorial stuff for the Tribune for a while when the old evening Times shut down.

When Andrea returned to Tampa from Tallahassee, she found negative prospects for a mature woman journalist, even one who had won numerous prizes for her work. The guys she came up through the ranks with at the Tribune and SPTimes were now in charge but didn't want older women journalists with credentials and journalistic heft but rather young journalistic eye-candy parvenus to decorate their environment and provide some erotic electricity in the newsroom for the y-chromosome smarts-challenged bosses.

Arianna Huffington is benign exception to this ritual. She had the money and the vision to start her own highly successful blog, the Huffington Report. She is smart and beautiful. I wish her well always.

The big newspapers are going down, down, down. If your teachers tell you otherwise, don't believe them. I sold my stock in the NYT for half of what I bought it for some years ago. The Tribune has diminished itself to a skeleton staff. I predict it will soon close. I don't know about the SPTimes; it has a different financial situation but is not immune to market pressures in the long haul.

The NYT has just got rid of a hundred people. That icon will go eventually, alas, and the era of print journalism will close forever.

I think the immediate problem with the print press is that the writing lacks individuality and pizzazz, and the male cautious editors and terminally dull-witted hot shots manqué who rule on the writing and control what appears in the paper's pages won't let the young writers take on controversial, exciting stories that would rivet readers. Nor will they tolerate vivid diction.

The Times, for example, could do a long-running series on the problems of the Hillsborough County Schools. The publisher and editors lack the courage for the project.

The school board-ROSSAC saga of greed and incompetence is full of vivid stories that would pique the indignation and anger of the readers and ensure their readership. But Mr. Marshall, the present reporter for the School Board, doesn't write about any of these; nor did the former reporter, a Ms. stein. I sense she got a transfer because she wrote something mildly controversial that Ms. Elia complained about and thus disturbed conservative Mr. Tash or one of his dimwitted clones' fear of rocking the Bay Area boat and displeasing a mandarin of the Bay Area Outback. So Stein got transferred.

If the up-tight editors would turn loose the young reporters and not hem them in with ancient restrictions, I believe the print press could hold on a little longer. But if the young reporters have to go with the geriatric restrictions of old-fart management, the papers will continue to produce dull, traditional porridge that the blogs blow out of the water by not adhering to these ancient press-geezer rituals that turn off readers.

If I were in the newspaper biz, I would mount a paper to print stuff strictly on local issues. It would be a Village Pump.

People would buy this paper because they are interested in the doings and sayings of their neighbors, and these don't appear in the national blogs, busy cataloguing the political events in Indo China.

Get together a half dozen women and start such a local-events paper with blog hyperlinks, and you will have the jump on this coming genre.

I plug for women's succeeding in the press because I have worked for and been a leader in the Women's Movement for the last 45 years of my long life. lee

From: Rebecca Sitten []
Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2009 2:08 PM
Subject: a few questions for you

Dear Mrs. De Cesare,

My name is Rebecca Sitten and I am a graduate student studying journalism at USF in Tampa. My "beat" or focus for this month is the Hillsborough County School District, and I find your blog both interesting and informative. I was wondering if you'd be willing to answer a few questions for an article I am writing. If not, I understand. If so, you can either answer over email or telephone. The questions are below. You can call me at (904)540-3177 or send me back your number if you'd like me to call you. I really appreciate your time! Have a great day.

  • How did you become interested in the Hillsborough County School Board?

A gay friend, Bart Birdsall, had a case cooked up against him by new superintendent Elia and the Professional Standards office, headed by home-ec credentialed Linda Kipley. Bart had written emails from his own email at home to the county library complaining about the shutdown of many privileges for gays. I think Ms. Elia was afraid that the fens-and-blogs citizens would taske umbrage at a gay's teaching in the schools, so she wanted to stifle him. I began going to board meetings and observing the board then.

Kipley'a sexist home-ec degree went out in the Crustacean Era. No respectable university offers one now. Recently her husband, a high school graduate, got a job as an accountant that four qualified people applied for. They had accounting degrees and the experience that the ad called for. One was a handicapped woman. These candidates get a special boost because any entity getting federal funds must have an affirmative-action plan on file top recruit them. The schools has no such plan.

The calibre of the Kipley's credentials for a high-level job that pays $150,000 a year--as much as the head in Florida of the Child Protection Services pinpoints a problem with this administration. It's dumb because it hires buddies, sycophants, and suck-ups instead of advertising widely and getting qualified people. If any problem above the C-level intellects that abound in the administration comes up, a pricey consultant gets hired to come and solve the problem and give the administration and board the details with flash cards.

When I get a breather, I plan to file with the federal government to conduct a compliance review of the hiring practices of the areas with federal funds. The feds will find the incestuous buddy-sycophant-kin hiring racket that dominates the School Board and administration. I mentioned this intention once in a board meeting during citizens' question time. Gonzalez, the Board lawyer, hinted he would sue me for extortion if a asked for a federal contract review. He thought I didn't know that the SLAPP law made it impossible for him to do that. But his conduct reveals how the Board and administration resist any questions or suggestions about the way they misrun the schools. They bully everybody who does not agree with them.

  • What do you think is the most important issue facing our education system today?

Oh, lord, everything. But I write as many rebukes as energy allows to the lazy- and dumbassed press that keeps repeating that what's wrong with schools is teachers' unions. A NYT guy whom I like just wrote such boilerplate. I was president of the college teachers' union before I retired after 28 years in the trenches of the comma splice. What we spent our time fighting was the corrupt, bribe-taking administration's efforts to bust the union so that its minions could weed out teachers such as I who complained in print and in person before the board about the administration's effort to bust the union and demoralize the teachers so it could cherry pick cooperative, obtuse teachers who had no business teaching college courses because they were as dumb as stumps and rolled over for any administration plot to eviscerate teachers' autonomy and ability to stand up to the graft-taking administration's aim to have as teachers a bunch of addlepated, complicit teachers in a plantation system in which administrators were the bosses ruling from the Big House and teachers and students were the field hands supposed to tote that barge and lift that bale and give the Big-House minions the head count that supplies state tax money for them to throw around to augment their sense of self-importance and chances for graft.

  • Would you offer any suggestions as to how this issue can be resolved?

I have asked the FBI--including the FBI Director Mueller with cc to Michele Obama, the national Secretary of Education, and the governor to intervene in the criminal running of the Hillsborough County schools. Prayers and follow-up inquiries will ensue from me.

One thing is for sure: the so-called "Crusading Press" has not checked in on this effort. Press brass is too busy protecting its flossy bona fides at Chamber of Commerce meetings, guarding the fossilized press protocol that will doom the print press to history.

Good luck on your project. Keep in mind that your post-college job will probably be providing content for national blogs. Make a deal with Huffington or another big blog to provide local content.

I will write a letter of recommendation to Huffington for you. So will Andrea. So will all of my feminist buddies. Sisterhood is powerful. lee

Thank you!

Rebecca M. Sitten

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