My beloved colleague Dave Mazza has entered hospice care after a long illness, and I wanted to take a few lines to talk about how he helped change the course of Portland history.
As so often happens in my town, we had just hired a new police chief -- this one was named Mark Kroeker. As the chief was introduced to the city his strengths were trumpeted to the skies, like they always are.
But in a funky little Southeast office, Dave had become the editor of the Portland Alliance newspaper, a monthly founded by a coalition of grassroots activist groups in the 1970s to cover social issues because the mainstream media did not (media nerds: this was straight up solutions journalism before there was a name for it. Full disclosure: I too was an editor of the Portland Alliance newspaper. Frankly, a lot of what we did was critiquing the movement, and it would be useful today if it were still around.).
The year was 1999, so Dave picked up that newfangled thing called the Internet and just googled the heck out of Mark Kroeker (“google” was not a term at the time). Dave found bizarre audio recordings of Kroeker talking about parenting and saying some unacceptable things. The Los Angeles Times wrote about it, along with context on the other two “strikes” against Kroeker and more. He was forced out within two and a half years and immediately took a job leading “peacekeepers” in Liberia.
This short era was a turning point in law enforcement history for our town, because Kroeker essentially militarized the Portland police. It was under him that the “robocop”-style of riot police was created that plagues the city today. Dave covered it like a blanket.
Dave also went on to challenge the city’s electoral system, to paint gorgeous landscapes and to co-host “Voices from the Edge” Talk Radio with JoAnn Hardesty on KBOO Community Radio for many years. I want to thank Dave Mazza for his contribution to our city and encourage others to step up and use the tools of journalism to make our world a better place.
I have spent years working in newsrooms where Facebook was the tail that wagged the dog -- brilliant journalists worked their fingers to the bone on impactful reporting, then crossed fingers that the social media they’d spent so many hours kitting out with “SEO” would bring readers. Sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t; now Facebook has been caught with its data in the wrong cookie jar after already being punished for messing around with the cookie jar. What does that mean for your new big idea about citizen journalism? It looks like the biggest platform for small media projects is running around with its head cut off for now. Meanwhile go ahead and check out the live spectacle of Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional grilling here.
I often meet people who are expert an areas of interest that impact society, and who are perfect candidates for independent journalism. Health insurance financial counselors, volunteer community organizers, small business owners -- it is amazing how much practical knowledge and experience everyday people have to share (you'll realize just how smart you are after you go over and pick up my basics of journalism podcast series which has a marching band musical soundtrack to get you moving). But once you have that great idea for a podcast or blog, where do you share it? It doesn't hurt to start out small. The Los Angeles Times reported this week on Facebook's new plans to compete with Youtube by helping video "creators" to monetize their work right there on the platform -- monetize just means "make a little cash on the side." It's a very interesting story worth noting for anyone thinking about going professional and striking out for the next level of skills and drive. Meanwhile, news also broke that a private company with ties to the Trump presidential campaign allegedly "scraped" information from Facebook analytics, which triggered a multinational crisis and a market crash in Facebook stock.