Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blog Donation Disclosures And A Media Critique...

Photo By John Hoff

In the course of some "house keeping" about disclosing donations to the blog, I think this would be a good time to say where I believe Johnny Northside Dot Com fits amid the other media which serve North Minneapolis...especially since this grassroots media effort runs on a shoestring, and all the other media have some "oomph" behind them.

First, consider the mainstream media. They miss most of the North Minneapolis stories, they get the stories they do cover WRONG, and they tend to show up mostly for violent crime. As much as the problems which actually plague our neighborhood, the mainstream media are part of the problem because of their constant reinforcement of the stereotype that North Minneapolis is an urban dystopian theme park of violence and decay.

This blog doesn't pull punches reporting on crime--including the theft of my own van, and the times I've had my tires slashed, probably for things I've blogged--but I make an effort to cover the WHOLE story. I think the story of North Minneapolis is the story of revitalization amid the foreclosure crisis and involved citizens taking back their streets from thugs, creating a livable and desirable urban environment...

Second, there is Al McFarlane's media machine, the so-called Insight News. First and foremost, I weep for the forests. Though Insight News has a website, the publication is completely wedded to its "flesh of dead trees" format. Insight's agenda is obvious in every issue: put Al McFarlane on the front page often (with his oh-so-serious, I'm-so-important expression) and support Al McFarlane's agenda. As far as I can see, part of that agenda involves propping up various political candidates and personalities including, but not limited to:

* The Reverend Jerry McAfee. Insight News doesn't mention McAfee's appearance as a witness on behalf of Larry "Maximum" Maxwell, who went down hard on 18 felonies involving mortgage fraud.

* Kenya McKnight, candidate for city council in the Fifth Ward. Actually, McKnight is virtually a creation of Insight News.

* Beating the drums of racial tension. McFarlane constantly tries to emphasize some kind of race-based problems, even as most of North Minneapolis is trying to make an effort to get along. While Council Member Don Samuels literally embraces my son, (see a previous blog post) Al McFarlane's Insight News appears to make an effort to tear us all apart and emphasize differences instead of diversity.

So, all in all, North Minneapolis is very poorly served by Insight News, but worse yet is the fact Insight News just doesn't crank out enough stories, enough content. I pick that rag off the rack and most of the time I'm done perusing it in sixty seconds, and then I have to put it back on the rack or find a recycle bin. Plenty of the features are just worthless filler.

Third, moving on to the little free newspaper called North News: My only two criticisms are "dead tree format" and "not enough content." This publication tries hard and often succeeds, but...well, paper is dead. At least North News has one thing down, one thing exactly right:

The story of North Minneapolis is the story of urban revitalization.

So that brings us to this blog. First of all, I don't kill trees. Secondly, it is my goal to CRANK OUT THE CONTENT. This blog finds its niche by printing a detailed, granular view of North Minneapolis and the struggle for revitalization and de-thugification in a writing style which, yes, actually tries to be entertaining. And, apparently for these reasons, readers have periodically contributed cash to this oh-so-grassroots effort.

So, yeah, some disclosures...

PayPal donations of $25, $20, $10 which all came in before June 3. These funds pretty much went to bills, bills, bills. Well, I also took my son to a movie at Mall of America.

One cash donation of $20, pictured above, which came from the hand of a hard-working man and, well, it means a lot.

So that's enough blog housekeeping. Time for more content...

1 comment:

veg*nation said...

i think this is exactly right: in no way do people want the negatives to not be reported, we just want them to be reported in context. i was one of the people who was upset by your original minnesota daily article (written before you moved to NoMi), not because i doubted that you had seen the things that you saw, but because it seemed to fall within the genre you describe of the northside horror story. your blog has moved far beyond that, and does a great job of presenting the texture of life on the northside.

a related issue that comes up occasionally is the fact that while most neighborhoods in NoMi have similar challenges (i.e., drug dealing, and hearing gunshots), they have them to different degrees. i think it's important to include the whole spectrum of NoMi neighborhoods and NoMi experiences in any discussion of the northside, since it seems counterproductive to make having an extraordinarily high crime rate a defining characteristic of a "true" northside neighborhood.