There can be consequences when newspapers print fiction, though not always

Most journalists know the moral of the story about Mitch Albom’s fictitious column.

Mitch Albom

In April 2005, the Detroit Free Press’ star sports columnist wrote in a Sunday column about how two former Michigan State basketball players, both then in the NBA, attended a Final Four semifinal game on Saturday night and wore Michigan State green to show their support.

But the column ran in a section of the paper that was printed before the game started, and the two NBA alums were no-shows.

For writing fiction in the guise of  journalism, Albom was suspended without pay for several weeks and four other staffers were “disciplined.”

In a front page letter to readers publisher and editor Carole Leigh Hutton apologized for the fabrication.

In a column Albom apologized too, “Perhaps it seems as a small detail to you … but details are the backbone of journalism, and planning to be somewhere is not the same as being there.”

I said most journalists know the moral of the story, but no all.

Publisher's column sig

Publisher’s column sig

In today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, publisher Bob Brown prints a homily under the headline: “We all share responsibility to spread Easter good will.”

In the column he writes: “But as I sit here in St. Anthony’s Church this morning, looking around at the bright young faces, dressed in their finest clothes, I am reminded of a simple truth: The message that ‘God is love’ transcends all conflict.”

Of course, the presses rolled long before the earliest of Easter Sunday services. And he may well have been in amen corner this morning while most people were reading the column and there may well have been “bright young faces, dressed in their finest clothes” along with the rest of their bodies, but he committed the sin of Mitch Albom.

I doubt the publisher will be suspended, like Albom was, for this journalistic transgression. Nor do I expect a front page apology. After all is was a “small detail.”

Sharing a genre bender from Gary P. Nunn

I turned on my iTunes a few minutes ago and set it to random play, so it will skip all my genres from alternative to celtic to folk to zydeco.

One of the first songs to come out was one that could be either country or reggae or both, real genre bender.

I thought I would share, and I knew someone, somewhere would have already posted a YouTube video. As we say in Texas: Shure ’nuff, mon:

I’m not sure Jerry Jeff done it this way.


Nevadans seeing our economic freedoms swirling down the drain

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is out with its latest survey of “Freedom in the 50 States,” and it shows we Nevadans are squandering our freedoms as Californication takes over as inexorably as arthritis.

In the overall category, the state has dropped from a respectable 4th place in 2001 to a middling 20th  for 2011. That overall is a compilation of categories. On some we fare well but in very few have we improved. Mostly its been downhill.

Sloping downward

Sloping downward

While the state does pretty well in personal freedom, rising from 4th in 2001 to 2nd now, in the pocketbook freedoms it is all downhill.

In economic freedom, which includes fiscal and regulatory policies, Nevada has fallen from 9th to a ranking of 29th. Likewise on fiscal policies, which covers taxes, government employment, spending, debt and fiscal decentralization, Mercatus has marked Nevada down from 8th to 33rd, not even in the middle of the pack.

And while the state has a reputation as a low-tax state, it is unearned. Or rather is a lingering remnant of the past. The tax burden ranking is calculated by taking state and local tax revenues as a percentage of the state’s personal income. Nevada has dropped from 12th in 2001 to 35th in 2011.

The education category is not ranked on quality but on freedom for private and homeschooling, and in that the state has been terrible, ranking 47th in 2001, but 49th in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

As for freedom to get a job without having to obtain an occupational license, Nevada is a cellar dweller, 50th every year surveyed. But we are tied every year for right to work at No. 1.

Of course Nevada is in the top 10 always for freedom to gamble and booze.

Mercatus observed:

Nevada has a reputation as a libertarian state, mostly because of legal prostitution and gambling, but on economic freedom the state fares significantly worse than one would expect of a state with such a moniker.

On fiscal policy the state now ranks slightly worse than average after slipping significantly between FY 2008 and FY 2010 in every fiscal category, due in part to a severe decline in personal income during the recession. Debt is now two standard deviations higher than the national average (at 29.1 percent of income), while taxes are now slightly higher than average (at 9.7 percent of income).


News you will not read anywhere else about ‘global warming’

Remember all those stories about how 2012 was the hottest year in a century of weather data for the 48 contiguous states of the United States. It was in all the papers.

Well, courtesy of a website called Real Science, here is a look at temperature records:

The ratio of record lows to record highs is 30:1.

Newspaper column: Bill would increase renewable power and power bills

As I mentioned earlier, a bill has been introduced in the state Legislature to increase the percent of electricity that must come from renewable generation by 2025 from 25 percent to 35 percent — the highest renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in the continental United States.

Harry Reid inspects solar panels

Senate Bill 252, immaculately conceived in the Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy in Carson City, not only ratchets up the percentage of renewables required but  would change the rules of the game in the seventh inning, as reported in this week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press. It would amend state law by deleting 33 mentions of energy “efficiency” — reducing energy consumption — as a means of complying with the legislatively mandated RPS. The cleanest kilowatt of electricity is the one never used. Yet SB252 would eliminate this as a means for reducing carbon output.

What’s the point?

Obviously, it is a blatant attempt to force more renewable power plants to be built and the cost to consumers and taxpayers and the impact on global warming be damned. You see, renewable energy companies are prolific campaign contributors to Democrats.

An economic impact study of Oregon’s RPS of 25 percent by 2025, the same as Nevada’s current level, found this could increase power bills by somewhere between 14 and 34 percent and reduce the number of jobs in the state by between 10,000 and 25,000. Imagine what 35 percent will do.

The entire column at the Ely or Elko websites.

Just another day at the incredibly shrinking newspaper


Atop the flag of The New York Times is the motto: “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

Perhaps it is time for the Las Vegas Review-Journal to adopt the motto: “All the News That Fits.”

First, they slashed reporters. Then, they slashed editors. Next, they slashed pages and content.

In November the Sunday opinion section, called Viewpoints, was cut from six pages to four. Shortly after that they came up with op-ed-less Thursdays. With only two people left to put out the opinion pages, something had to give. Now, they’ve given us a “Good Friday” op-ed page with only one column and the rest remnants of news or jumps from the front of the section.

There were a few more ads in the B section today, considering Sunday is Easter.

At one time the editor would have gone to the publisher, hat in hand, and begged to increase the number of pages in the section when the advertising cup runneth over. Back when the paper was printing 200,000 copies, that was a lot of newsprint expense to burn. But the publisher almost always agreed. Now, as the paper is approaching half that circulation, the pennies are being pinched. Content is sacrificed.

The question is: Will next Friday bring another op-ed-lite?

Next, they might as well slash their wrists.


At least they can say they are no two-bit newspaper.

Putting a precise number on those ‘thousands of green jobs’ Harry talks about

While addressing the Nevada Legislature a few weeks ago Nevada’s senior Sen. Harry Reid proclaimed, “The renewable energy industry has been a bright spot during dark economic times, helping our state attract new businesses and create thousands of jobs that can never be outsourced.”

Yes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2011, Nevada does indeed have thousands of “green jobs,” 15,569 to be precise, out of about 1.12 million jobs that year. But a third of those “green jobs” were construction jobs, because the BLS defines just about any construction that includes efficiency measures such as insulation, installing double-pane windows and low-flow toilets as green jobs.

Another 1,166 “green jobs” were in manufacturing, which includes building stuff with recycled material. It surely included those nearly 300 jobs that Reid touted in a press release in 2010 on the opening of the Amonix solar panel manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas. Pay no attention to the fact it closed in 2012.

As for all those solar panel farms, wind farms and geothermal facilities, Reid brags about, calling Nevada the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy, those accounted for only 367 jobs in 2011.

Harry Reid at right at groundbreaking for Amonix solar panel manufacturing plant. (R-J photo)