Posts Tagged St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Why Not Require Photo ID to Vote?

I sometimes make the mistake of reading the editorials in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch when I scan the letters to the editor.  I made that mistake last month and it cost me the time to write a letter (OK, email) about one of many on Missouri’s inching towards requiring a government issued photo ID in order to vote, which strikes me as an eminently sane idea.  You have to have a photo ID to do a lot of things these days – although if you are willing to have a more thorough physical exam than any medical doctor will perform, you can fly on a commercial flight which I happen to know from personal experience.  The paper ran the letter, and edited it as usual.  I’m providing the original, in all its glory:

I keep reading Post editorials about how discriminatory requiring photo ID for voting is.  The latest one notes that not every one can get a drivers license, which while true is meaningless.  Several years ago my father passed away and I took my mother to their bank to square away the accounts.  The bank would have nothing to do with her because she had no photo ID  – she hadn’t driven in years and had no drivers license.  So we returned to her house, picked up the necessary documents, went to the nearby Dept. of Revenue office and obtained a government issued photo ID, and returned to the bank where she was cordially welcomed – all in the same afternoon.  It actually isn’t that hard.

Backing up my anecdote with data, several studies of voter turnout in Indiana in Georgia show that after voter photo ID laws were passed, minority turnout increased, not decreased.  Lawsuits against the Indiana and Georgia laws could not find a single person in either state who was stopped from voting because of photo ID laws. So the idea that photo ID laws are burdensome and suppress minority voter turnout is just another groundless fear of the Post editorial board.

The other argument is that requiring photo ID for voting is a solution in search of a problem – no such fraud occurs I’m told.  The undetectable crime doesn’t go undetected, it goes uncommitted according to this argument. Oddly enough, this very paper is filled with stories everyday of lawbreaking of every sort.  Why even that paragon of virtue and good government, Professor Jeff Smith, was convicted of violating election law and sentenced to a year in prison.  Yet I am to believe lesser men don’t commit voter fraud despite the clear advantage it provides and the complete lack of risk they would run.  I don’t even admire such faith in my fellow man, let alone share it.

Not unexpectedly one of the edits was to remove my citation of Jeff Smith.  (State) Senator Smith really was a good guy – wanted to improve schools even if it meant crossing teachers unions, worked well with Republicans, and clearly was a bright guy with a bright future in front of him.  My point wasn’t to take a swipe at him, but an honest assessment that if you couldn’t trust him, you shouldn’t trust anyone – so verify!

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A Letter To The Editor

I do so enjoy a good letter to the editor. And today the Post served up a good one:

Paradoxical Post In light of the May 4 editorial opposing use of the term “Christmas holidays break” by the Francis Howell School District, the May 5 edition is a fascinating example of paradoxes.

On May 4, the Post-Dispatch told us the issue is of no practical impact at all, but on May 5, the story was on Page 1, above the fold. On May 4, the Post-Dispatch decried the emotional content of the issue, but on May 5 published a letter from a lady who does not live in the Francis Howell district but who most emphatically does not want Christmas shoved down her throat. (I suppose she avoids all shopping malls from October on each year.) On May 4, the Post-Dispatch told us Americans are free to call the holiday whatever we want, but on May 5 repeated warnings the district may face lawsuits.

On May 4, the Post-Dispatch warned us of how emotions can be whipped up, and on May 5 demonstrated its willingness to be one of the whips.

Roger W. Collins

Roger, Roger, Roger, you need to remember a foolish consistancy is the hobgoblin of small minds.

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Eggers Resigns At The Post-Dispatch

Terrance Eggers, the publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is leaving the newspaper effective May 19th. Last November, Ellen Soeteber resigned as Editor-in-Chief. It seems that Mr. Eggers is leaving for the same reasons Ms. Soeteber left – the Post has money problems, or as they described it, the paper faces a “choppy advertising market that prevented Egger from meeting modest revenue targets during his last year of a decade-long run in St. Louis.”

I have to feel sorry for newspaper people these days – its the best of times as the internet beckons, and it is the worst of times, as the current advertising base dries up. Here we are in a robust expansion, and the ad revenue isn’t coming back — which means it isn’t going to come back. I think this accounts for the generally unhappy outlook on the economy by the press — their economy isn’t good, so they assume nobody else’s is, either.

Bill McClellan wrote about Mr. Egger’s departure. Bill get’s his facts right but his interpretation is way off: “An odd but endearing quality of newspaper folk is that we profess to know a lot about everybody else’s business but know almost nothing of our own.” It isn’t odd but endearing – it’s thoroughly annoying. And then he notes the big bucks Mr. Eggers has been paid ($3 million when Pulitzer was bought out, $675,000 retention bonus, and $1 million severance package) — all the while his editorial page has been blasting other execs for similar excess. The press can’t stand the same scrutiny and standards they hold everyone else to.

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The Editor Is Gone, All Hail the Editor

Ellen Soeteber has resigned as the Editor in Chief of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Her resignation followed a large voluntary employee buyout at the Post. I know the paper comes in for a lot of criticism here, but I do try to call attention to those times when the paper did a good job.

I think Ms. Soeteber did a good job within the limits of current journalism. By that I mean the faults of the Post are pretty much the faults of journalism today – too often smug, arrogant, unbalanced, inaccurate, and unfair. Certainly she did a much better job than Cole Campbell who championed “public” or “civic” journalism, which in those days just meant the the newspaper was supposed to be an advocate for public and civic improvement, in terms both of running the behind the scenes, and in terms of obvious steps to improve the paper. She focused on improving and expanding the business section and now it’s a great section to read, often the best part of the newspaper. Her stress on local news is the right direction for a newspaper to take in today’s wired world.

From her words in the article it sounds like she just grew tired of dealing with the financial pressures of the job. Newspaper revenues are being undercut by the weakness of the big department stores and car manufacturers who were a large source of advertising, the expansion of advertising in other mediums, and the loss in classified ads to the internet. I don’t think this is the deathknell of newspapers, as there a lot of media that are still around, going strong, just not as dominate as they once were, such as radio or network TV. I don’t think the adverstising and prestigue are ever going back to their old levels, but I think and hope that newspapers will be around for a lot longer.

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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

By and large, the St. Louis Post Dispatch is a terrible newspaper. It puts the crap in crappy. It survives because it is the only real newspaper in St. Louis. Yes, I subscribe (including weekends) for the following simple reasons in order of importance (1) my wife saves more money with the coupons than we spend on the subscription, (2) my daughter likes the everyday section, (3) my son likes the sports section, (4) I like the idea of getting a newspaper more than the actual one I get. But that doesn’t mean it’s a uniform consistancy of bad. Frequently somebody slips in something good, and sometimes it comes from the most unexpected sources.

For instance, the editorials are typically poor. Even good progressives like Archpundit think so. But they had a really good one today, in fact I was thinking about writing the same way on the very subject they did (only I’m not a paid staff and last week and this weekend was very, very busy). So instead I’ll let them do the talking about oil company profits:

Mr. Durbin is one of several members of Congress proposing excess profits taxes on oil companies. The idea is excellent populist politics and lousy economics. It’s a bad idea that would ultimately leave us with higher gasoline prices and tie us even more tightly to the unstable oil states of the Middle East. 

It is true that oil companies are celebrating a profit gusher. Last week, ExxonMobil reported quarterly profits up 75 percent to $9.9 billion. Shell’s take is up 68 percent to $9.04 billion.

Figures like that stick in the craw of all of us with sticker shock at the pump: $50 for a tank of gas! But those sky-high profits now will help ensure a steady supply of oil in the future.


But in the short term, the key to price relief is to dig more oil wells and expand refineries. Oil companies will do those things if they are highly profitable.

After all, oil drilling is a risky business, and refineries cost billions. Today’s profit levels provide a great incentive to drill and build. But companies must also take gamble on what oil prices may be when new wells and refineries come on line. Long experience with the ups and downs of oil prices have taught oil executives to bet cautiously. That, along with the Gordian knot of regulatory red tape, helps explain why no new refinery has been built in America since the 1970s.

I wonder if the editorial staff talked with Dave Nicklaus, because it has all the earmarks of his thoughtfulness.

 

But let’s turn our attention to the bad, as pointed out by Brian Noggle. Betty Cuniberti is retiring from the paper and I won’t miss her pointless ramblings. She says farewell in her typically clueless style:

Even in the era of the Blogosphere (no thought too vacuous to share), this is good work if you can get it. What knucklehead would walk away from a newspaper column?

To cut operating costs, the paper offered an early-retirement buyout to folks over age 50 with five or more years on the job. It appears that some 40 newsmen and newswomen, whose combined service totals a staggering 700-plus years, are walking out the door. Just like that. 

With them goes an era when a guy (and sometimes even a girl) got a job in the hometown and stayed 30 years, 40 years or more.

We’ll see few of their kind again.

Newspapers aren’t the money-printing machines they used to be. The Post-Dispatch is just one of many papers forced to dance with the enemy, the dark force that seeks to take the paper out of newspaper: the Internet.

Newspapers are joining doctors, lawyers and makers of psychotropic drugs, marketing ourselves with imagination we never knew we had. Or needed. We’ll do anything short of coming to your house in a French maid costume, making breakfast and reading the darn thing to you.

Be assured, many of our best and most seasoned people remain. They will continue to do great work at all hours of the day and night and bring you news from every nook of the bi-state region and the planet. They’ll be joined, I’m sure, by fresh, young talent. That is always a plus.

Just for the record, since some morons at the Post fired Elaine Viets, I have zero desire for any current employee to show up at my door in a french maid outfit, even if you do make me breakfast.

 

For a women who has done nothing but share vacuous thoughts, and whose vacuity I have spared both my readers from in the excerpt, that is quite the pot calling moment. Of course, it doesn’t stop there (it never does), because she bemoans the internet, a device that has proven of inestimable value in providing the American people with a much better variety of news and news sources, and frankly a quantum leap in quality in news analysis, and yes, plain old columnists. What’s left unsaid in her column though is the role of the erosion in trust of not just the Post, but all newspapers. Readership is declining for a very simple reason – the Post, like most other newspapers, has declined — in accuracy, in fairness, in balance, in just about every way — and the internet allows people access to information that shows just how badly it has declined.

And speaking of the internet, the Post has a lousy internet presence. The decided several years back to separate their internet portal, STLtoday.com, from the newspaper, and killed the old St. Louis Post Dispatch site. And STLtoday.com is pretty ugly. Just get a load of their blogs. Ugh. If that’s the future of blogging, count me out. I’ll rename this site “Funmurphys: The Vacuous Thoughts” and keep on posting.

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Priceless

The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran the following correction this morning:

A story in Friday’s Metro section about the National Spelling Bee misspelled the winning word. The correct spelling is “autochthonous.”

UPDATE: I wanted to send this into the WSJ’s Best of the Web but the post never put the correction up on their website. It skipped from June 3 to June 8 without mention of any June 5 corrections. If I was as cynical as their leading columnist (who has assured me that I’m not), I’d say they didn’t want to post it to keep it from being widely linked on the internet.

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