...sure, compromise effective policy, compromise best practices, compromise our souls...

I learn from Michael Larson that the meatheads at that Sioux Falls paper think that the "solution" to low teacher pay is for teachers to compromise and accept the worst part of HB 1234, Daugaard's 2012 merit pay proposal. Wow—it's as if Daugaard and the Republicans  are determined to squeeze us long enough and hard enough that we'll surrender to anything, even bad policy that's been proven not to work. (On the failure of merit pay, see also this presentation from 2012.)

Meanwhile, the corporate media crassly tries to spin South Dakota's teacher shortage as just one more spoke in their spinning wheel of anti-union propaganda.

Mr. Larson invokes Patrick Henry. I invoke Nazis. In World War II, we didn't say, "O.K., Adolf, let's compromise. How about you only kill a few thousand Jews?" Killing Jews is bad policy. So is merit pay.

South Dakota teachers have compromised their lifetime earnings potential. South Dakota teachers have compromised on professional reputation and lucrative opportunities elsewhere. South Dakota teachers have compromised on personal and cultural opportunities for their children.

South Dakota teachers have compromised enough. No more tricks, no more back-door insults to the profession, no further degradation of their professional autonomy. It's time for South Dakota to pay teachers what they are worth.


Two weeks ago, South Dakota media eminence gris Doug Lund lobbed a blog blast at Patrick Lalley, content strategist of that Sioux Falls paper. Lund got the impression that, in the paper's November 19 100 Eyes podcast, Lalley showed no feeling toward his numerous colleagues whom Gannett canned in downsizing the paper. Lund also took umbrage at Lalley's claim that broadcasters don't do reporting.

Pat Powers picks up Lund's statement because it gives him a chance to slobber over what he passive-aggressively question-mark-calls a "slappy fight."

Pat Powers does not cite Lund's invitation to an intelligent discussion of the differing demands and merits of print and broadcast journalism, because... well, golly, what does Lund say that would keep Pat from mentioning that?

What Mr. Strategist knows and isn’t saying is that when his two pet reporters need more time for investigative reporting or to read Cory Heidelberger’s blog for ideas, they will have it and all the page space they need.

He also knows that stations like Keloland turn out five newscasts and one web newscast a day... while maintaining the top web site in the state. Reporters, including anchors, are expected to contribute daily packages that tell the story with facts and interviews while fitting it into the newscast time restraints... or going live from the scene when a situation warrants [Doug Lund, "The Only Good Reporter Is [a Sioux Falls Paper] Reporter," KELOLand.com, 2014.11.21].

There's a reason you don't see much original video here. Video is a pain. It takes much more time to rehearse, edit, and publish quality video than it does to pound research into good text. Give me a studio, a couple camera operators, a producer, and a maybe live studio audience (are you listening, KELO?), and I could put together some quality weekly infotainment that would tickle the masses. But that's more resources than I'm going to pull out of my backpack.

Every hour I spend wrestling with video software is an hour I'm not reading the Governor's budget or my EB-5 documents. If my job is to help other people get ideas, I probably do it better cranking out five text posts than I do one video post.

That equation does inform a distinction between the news content in our print media and our broadcast media. We get more news stories and more detail in most news stories in the paper than on TV and radio. But print and broadcast media are changing their content and their business models because of the Internet.


I am alarmed that John Shaw of Mitchell finds it acceptable to spew lies and hatred. I am more alarmed that the Mitchell Daily Republic abdicates its journalistic responsibility and prints Shaw's bigoted fabrications.

I excerpt with disgust and reluctance (because the comment section will turn ugly quickly, and because Shaw's blatant disregard for fact and decency demonstrate he is seeking to provoke a fight and stroke his own paranoia, not engage in neighborly discourse) comments made by John Shaw in a letter to the editor, published Saturday, November 29, 2014:

Currently 7.4 percent (23 million) of the United States population (315 million) controls the remaining 92.6 percent (292.5 million) of the U.S. population. There are two cultures of the 7.4 percent representing 3.7 percent each that have been and are currently transforming America, and they are the Muslim Islamic and sodomite cultures [John Shaw, letter to the editor, Mitchell Daily Republic, 2014.11.29].

Good grief—we're only two sentences in, and I already have seven responses:

  1. Golden rule: I defy anyone to establish that the small percentage of Americans practicing Islam and the small percentage of Americans practicing homosexuality have more control over this country than the 5% who control more than half of the nation's wealth.
  2. Shaw tries to give his warmed-over Hitlerian screed a gloss of authority with bogus decimals.
  3. Muslims make up 0.6% or maybe 2.2% of the U.S. population. The only source I find saying "3.7%" is this 2012 article listing the Muslim populations of Chicago and Detroit at 3.7%,  the largest Muslim populations listed for any U.S. metro area.
  4. "Muslim Islamic" is a redundant term bred of pretentious ignorance.
  5. Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals make up 2.3% of the U.S. population.
  6. "Sodomite culture" is an insult cloaked in piety, not a real sociological category.
  7. If there were such a thing as a "sodomite culture," I can only assume from Shaw's word choice that it would include the 4% of men and 20% of women who say they've had anal sex in the past year.

The Mitchell Daily Republic should have shelved this letter right there. But no. Their editorial board, which will retract an eyewitness observation just because a grouchy Republican lawyer disagrees, lets Shaw carry on:

Most of the Muslims in the U.S. have immigrated here from the Middle East. Some Americans and other nationalities here have converted to the hellish, terroristic, Islamic ideology that barbs itself as a peaceful religion that destroyed the New York Twin Towers and 3,500 lives, plus killing U.S. servicemen at Fort Hood, Texas, and a U.S. recruitment center, decapitating a U.S. employee and performing honor killings in the U.S. to Muslim wives and daughters and our U.S. delusional leadership calls it PC — workplace violence? [Shaw, 2014.11.29]

And the Jews killed Jesus, so Judaism must be a hellish, terroristic ideology, and I must just be some PC wuss for saying the Holocaust was a bad idea, right? (Crying "political correctness" is just the whining of privileged bigots who don't like their linguistic tools of oppression taken away.)

Then Shaw really piles on the lies:

The Washington, D.C., federal government is loaded with Muslim brotherhood jihadist operatives at every high-level branch, with the consent of our current Muslim Oval Office occupier. The Muslim-Islamic literature cancer is in all of our learning institutions, (including first grade) brainwashing our current and future generations of leadership and citizenry [Shaw, 2014.11.29].

My goodness—people actually say these things... and a supposedly reputable newspaper publishes them. A baseless general assertion about government officials, a persistent and pernicious lie about the President, and a wild accusation about the content of the curriculum in every school in America. Please, make the stupid stop!

The second controlling 3.7 percent consists of sodomites, lesbians, transgenders and man-boy love cultures that promote and destroy the civil and little remaining biblical fabric of our nation in the education centers, corporation sponsorships, liberal churches and secular society in general, with Hollywood, the mainstream news media and the Democratic Party supporting this cauldron of wickedness. Obama announced that June was proclaimed sodomy month (LGBT Pride Month), and he continued to advance the sodomite culture. Obama and his administration influenced liberal activist judges to overturn states' one man, one woman marriage amendments to accommodate wicked, non-existent sodomite marriage [Shaw, 2014.11.29].

Got that, Nancy, Jennie, Greg, Mark? You are wicked, your loving commitments don't exist, and you're not having sex the way John Shaw says you should. That'll fix you.

Shaw closes by co-opting his God's righteous wrath...

"And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thessalonians 2:11,12)

Judgment is here and what is coming you will not enjoy [Shaw, 2014.11.29].

...but how can I trust his apparent claim to be Christian any more than he trusts the copious evidence that Barack Hussein Obama is Christian? One little Bible quote from Shaw? Pshaw. John Shaw is no Christian. He's just some malcontent, a feckless and frustrated man who a generation ago would have been Archie Bunkering about Negroes and Jews running everything. Unable to resort to such slurs in 2014, Shaw scapes other goats.

I wish I could ignore Shaw's screed and let it fade away. Ignorance and hatred will always curse our fallible race... and that is all the more reason to whack it every time it rears its head, to keep it from building and doing more harm. Mitchell editors, if you feel compelled to print such ignorance and hatred, you should at least feel compelled to debunk his lies.


Scott Ehrisman reports that that Sioux Falls paper has axed several veteran reporters. I read the paper's own Sunday description of its newsroom changes and find a distressing absence of specifics on actual news activities. President and publisher Bill Albrecht and executive editor Maricarrol Kueter call their new senior management team "talented journalists," but the new functions they highlight seem to have less to do with journalism and more to do with marketing:

  1. Patrick Lalley is now called the "content strategist." That means he will "oversee the newsroom’s expanded content generation effort." That's not journalism; that's management. And journalists don't produce content; they write news.
  2. Cory Myers is now called the "consumer experience director." Myers "will study digital metrics and use audience feedback to assist reporters as they refine their approaches to their coverage beats," which sounds distressingly like training reporters to engineer their output with search engine optimization tricks rather than focusing on digging for good information, challenging authority, and writing great reports whose quality speaks for itself and enlightens the citizenry. And hey: we're not consumers; we are fellow citizens, for whom the Fourth Estate performs a vital function.
  3. Jodi Schwan is now an "audience analyst." Along with editing the Sioux Falls Business Journal, Schwan will "analyze audience metrics and market trends and work with marketing and advertising staffs as well as with the local news staff to identify opportunities for new products and new coverage approaches." This position is marketing, not journalism.

I know you can't walk into a meeting with corporate and say your plan for the paper is to do the best darn journalism in South Dakota. That's the kind of nutty talk you hear from some blogger who just slogs away writing one punchy, well-researched blog post after another and doesn't invest in SEO or marketing. You've got to tell corporate you've got new titles and metrics and strategies that will boost profits and Tweet-Klout X.Y%. And alas, it looks like you've got to make room for all sors of new positions and marketing strategies while spending less on real journalists practicing real journalism.

You do your business model, Bill and Maricarrol. I'll do mine. I look forward to comparing journalism-to-marketing ratios.


I am outraged that Associated Press, that Sioux Falls paper, KSFY, CNN, NBC, and CBS have declared winners in South Dakota's mid-term election while citizens are still voting. So is Secretary of State Jason Gant:

SOS Jason Gant tweet, 2014.11.04.

SOS Jason Gant tweet, 2014.11.04.

CNN declared a winner while Shannon County voters were still voting, in violation of CNN's own election night projection policy.

Update: Secretary Gant expresses further outrage at other media, including Fox News, for breaching the public trust:

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 20.49.03Another commenter mentions NPR is guilty, too... while KELO-AM's Greg Belfrage appalling decides to blame the election worker, not the media:

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 20.50.37


Larry Pressler is beating Mike Rounds 3–1 on newspaper endorsements. The Mitchell Daily Republic waits until the last minute (like how many of their readers?) to throw in with Lovable Larry. They like his commitment, moderation, and one-term promise.

What don't they like about they other three? The editors shrug off Rick Weiland and Gordon Howie with a vague wave at their "ideologies." But like the Rapid City Journal, they nuke Mike Rounds very specifically on the issue that Republicans have insisted doesn't really matter—EB-5:

But we've not been impressed with Rounds' responses -- or lack thereof, at times -- to requests for more information on things like EB-5, or even for his presence at debates [editorial board, "Pressler Best Candidate in Senate Race," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2014.11.04].

It seems Republicans have been working really hard to say EB-5 doesn't matter because they know it can matter. We've seen it matter explicitly in four newspaper indictments of Rounds's fitness for office (see also Mobridge Tribune and Yankton County Observer). Even Rounds's hometown paper, in endorsing him, had to acknowledge that "significant questions remain."

EB-5 matters. And no matter who wins tonight, EB-5 will continue to matter as we continue to investigate what Mike Rounds, Dennis Daugaard, Marty Jackley, and other state officials knew, when they knew it, and why they didn't act to stop the corruption that was happening under their noses.


Mike Rounds gets one newspaper endorsement, from his hometown Pierre Capital Journal. The editorial board in our capital tepidly defaults to experience on every statewide ballot line. They excuse Rounds thus:

We are well aware of the ongoing federal investigation into the EB-5 mess, and although significant questions remain, the experience Rounds brings outweighs any negatives from that issue ["Our Endorsements," Pierre Capital Journal, 2014.11.03].

They darn Rep. Kristi Noem with similar faint praise:

Republican incumbent Kristi Noem has more experience than Democrat Corinna Robinson and gets our endorsement. However, our board shares fairly broad agreement across party lines that Noem is a lackluster performer in the U.S. House, standing for non-controversial causes such as the move to stop human trafficking (as though anyone would take the other side of that issue) or predictable Midwest causes such as the farm bill – legislation from which her own family’s farm operation harvests plenty in taxpayer subsidies, as a letter elsewhere on this page observes. Noem deserves credit for taking a strong stand for conservation provisions in that bill, however [PCJ, 2014.11.03].

Even tough decider Governor Dennis Daugaard gets a bit of ho-hum from his closest monitors:

While we cannot see a great many accomplishments, we don’t see very much to fault him for, either [PCJ, 2014.11.03].

The only exception to the Pierre editors' safe embrace of company-town incumbency comes in the District 24 Senate race, where they reject Republican Senator Jeff Monroe's low-achieving in favor of trying something new and Democratic:

Our recommendation: We favor the Democratic candidate, Ruth Rehn, over the incumbent Republican, Jeff Monroe. The consensus on our editorial board is that, just as Rehn is contending, Monroe has not been very effective in his latest stint in the Legislature. Ruth Rehn is not the first to draw attention to this point. It was also the point of attack for Monroe’s fellow Republican in the primary, former lawmaker Tad Perry, who emphasized his success in getting legislation passed as the main difference between him and Monroe. The point still holds. We think it is time to give someone else a try and see if another candidate is better at getting thoughtful legislation enacted for South Dakota and District 24 [PCJ, 2014.11.03].

Like Senator Phil Jensen, Senator Jeff Monroe posts dangerous and dumb Glenn-Beck-karaoke bills that get in the way of practical lawmaking to do real good for all South Dakotans. The Pierre Capital Journal appears to recognize the importance of results... but only when the candidate is not a big-name statewide star. But the paper is at least showing a spark of critical thinking. Keep heading down that path, Pierre!


Photographer and freethinker Jered Dawnne of Sioux Falls started the Thinking Unenslaved podcast in 2010. He took a break in 2011 after 22 episodes. Tomorrow night, Wednesday, October 29, he's back, relaunching what he hopes will be a fascinating series of conversations:

Thinking Unenslaved is a weekly podcast from the perspective of a secular humanist living and working among the people of the Northern Midwestern United States. The intent of the show is to foster dialogue to bring an understanding of the need and purpose of humanistic and secular concepts into the mainstream for a better world. Naturally, political and sociological concerns are the primary focus of the show, but subject matter also delves into religion, agnosticism, atheism and related topics from time to time. Frequent participants on the show come from all walks of life, so every episode is a unique experience [Jered Dawnne, personal communication, 2014.10.27].

Dialogue, understanding, secular concepts, political and sociological concerns... hey! Sounds like my kind of program! So much so that Dawnne is inviting me to join him for a segment of tomorrow night's two-hour show. Thinking Unenslaved runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Jered plans to have me on right after the big KELO Senate debate, which is supposed to wrap up at 8 p.m.

Dawnne will also chat program sponsor and Siouxland Freethinkers member Josh Tordsen, as well as high-powered Democratic consultant turned Sioux Falls kaffeemeister Steve Hildebrand.

If technology cooperates, you can listen live on http://unenslaved.com/live-show/. If you want a wilder more interactive experience, you can tune in via http://mixlr.com/thinking-unenslaved. that site will have a chat room! But if you find yourself too drowsy after playing the Mike Rounds "South Dakota Common Sense!" drinking game during the KELO debate, you'll be able to download the podcast to cure your hangover in the morning. Live or recorded, you should find Dawnne's conversations great fun!


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