The Open Meeting Act strikes again

Ok, class. Puts your things under your seats, take out your AP Stylebooks and turn to the last chapter.

As mentioned in past Ninja Journalism posts, every AP Stylebook has a section in the back on the Open Meeting Act. Read it. This is a lethal weapon in the hands of a determined journalist prying information from shady bureaucrats, town officials, and anybody trying to hide information behind their titles.

Last week in the small town of Shady Shores, Texas near where I live, town council members began making derogatory remarks about citizens involved in the first item of business for the evening. The town secretary was told to stop the tape meeting recorder, rewind and start over. She refused and after being demanded to do so she stood up and left the meeting.

The recording was later erased by someone else and the secretary was fired for derelict of duty.

However, it did not cross the minds of the town big shots that they were in violation of the Open Meeting Act and the secretary, Sarah Swanson, my new hero, is suing the town.

Read Diana Hunt's story here in the Denton Record-Chronicle.

I learned from experience that the smaller the town, the more the politicians, town councils and county commissions believe they can get away with. When you screw people over in a small community, maybe 100 people will even care and about five of them enough to try to do something about it. When you do that in Dallas and you can multiply those numbers by a thousand.


Where have all the prints gone?

Prints – noun; A physical representation of a digital photo

Cora Brady, age 19, Ireland.
One of five photos taken of
my great grandmother.
In early days of photography, a common person may have three or four pictures taken in their lifetime because of the rarity and expense of photography. A person had maybe a family portrait, possibly a headshot later in life, most likely a marriage portrait (one photo from the entire wedding) and another family portrait after starting a family. Photos were few and cherished then.
Today, most of us are carrying a simple camera in the form of a smart phone and we regularly take pictures of ourselves, our friends, our pets and our food.
We take a ton of pictures but we don’t look at our pictures much.

Do you a photograph from the past 10 years printed, framed and hanging on your wall? One generation ago families adorned walls with vacation and family photos, and photo albums (books of family photos, for those too young to know) were kept in a drawer and taken out on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Today, our smart phones are our photo albums and the internet our walls.
I don’t do like my parents or grandparents did, but I have a digital photo frame, some framed landscapes from my favorite photographer and a few of my best creative prints enlarged and nicely displayed as well as a flower photo project my wife produced.

No matter your level of talent or if photography is a part of your profession or not, shoot something creative and get it on your wall.


Journalism majors

Another journalism major enters the work force.

This Dilbert comic strip first appeared in 1995 and it is still hilarious. I thought this the funniest comic strip ever and over the years talked about it, searched for it and sometimes acted it out for co-workers before I learned you can simply go to the Dilbert cartoon website and search for strips by subject.
This makes me think of two times I worked with freshly graduated journalism majors. The first was Crystal at a daily paper, who thought she knew everything, listened to nobody, made excuses for all her mistakes, contributed little and constantly talked about herself. Another was Luke Harris at a twice-weekly paper, who was a dedicated reporter with a creative mind and willingness to grow. We often collaborated and in about two years Luke moved up to a head editor position while continuing to contribute as a reporter and photojournalist. Luke won Journalist of the Year from the Texas Press Association in 2010.

It just shows that education can go either way depending if you got a degree to get a job or if you got a degree to better peruse your passion.
I am curious how many of you studied in your field or, like myself, excelled with cleverness and good looks. Comment below at www.ninjajournalist.blogspot.com and follow Ninja Journalism by email.

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