Wednesday, March 11, 2015



Analysis & commentary by yer podunk proletarian editor.

The Topeka statehouse press corps, those who daily attend and write, overwhelmingly for the print media, are to be congratulated for their collective refusal to participate in an "off the record" press conference.  Their small short response to being  manipulated, more aptly, leaked upon by haughty elected officials deserves the public's respect and vigilance.

The reporters historic "walkout" as reported and linked to below in the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review was a pleasant surprise.  Have you ever heard of such a thing in Kansas news history? 

The lawmakers who hold the levers of the state's budgets are attempting to ram through questionable methods of funding our public schools and went too far in expecting news writers to participate in it. 

News readers should make note of this day, it represents much more than a small revolt of a few who write these reports. 

These few reporters are the last in Kansas and their small action reveals a monster in the room. Today's shrinking news coverage, which relies on advertisement revenues and generally a five second sound bite, has been in crisis.  Editors, publishers and broadcasters are ever aware of reprisals for reporting news that rocks the boat among advertisers.

Kansas G.O.P. lawmakers have played fast and loose with the press on a variety of controversial issues; spinning social issues like abortion, guns and gay rights among uninformed distracted voters.

Helicopter drops of press releases flying over the country weeklies and electronic broadcasters are no longer a dirty little secret.

Starving weekly newspapers have little if any resources to conduct investigative follow-ups to slick message manipulators staffing  offices today.  Who expects television to spend the salaries, reporters and air time to get beyond the headlines crawling across the bottom of the screen? And then there is talk-radio, hah!

The statehouse reporters in Topeka are the most important watchdogs Kansans have when that most dangerous of times comes - the lawmakers are in session.

The economic designs beginning with the previous passing of legislation exempting all businesses in the state from paying taxes provided the shock necessary to initiate austerity measures.  

This week's fast track on abolishing the public school funding formula and replacing it with an untried "block grant" method offers no solutions to the massive $600 million state budget deficit coming due next year.  The same legislators, with the avid support and leadership of Gov. Sam Brownback imposed the tax cuts causing the mess.

Deron Lee: WHY KANSAS STATEHOUSE REPORTERS STAGED A WALKOUT @ Columbia Journalism Review posted March 9, 2015

Below what CJR Midwest reporter Deron Lee posted this week about the under reported "walkout."

[Excerpt]   It may have all been just a big misunderstanding. But the Kansas statehouse press corps scored a point for transparency on Monday, when they staged a walkout rather than take part in an off-the-record briefing from legislators.

The subject at hand was the controversial education-funding bill that is currently speeding through the state legislature—a key plank in Gov. Sam Brownback’s efforts to fill a severe budget hole. On Monday, a day before the measure was to come up for a vote in committee, reporters were invited to a briefing with the bill’s sponsors. But there was an unusual condition, according to Bryan Lowry of The Wichita Eagle.

“A GOP staffer was telling us that we were going to have this press conference, but it was going to be an off-record press conference—which none of us had even heard of before,” Lowry said. [End of Excerpt]

"Fire the reporters. BBQ meet-up at Cedar Crest, anyone?"

Read the complete article on the Topeka statehouse press walkout at the Columbia Journalism Review.



Watch how the flippant patronizing governor of Kansas reacted to the same statehouse press corps when questioned about last year's national credit rating downgrade of the state.  

He keeps calling taxes an "addiction" spinning it like an unlicensed grief counselor. This discarded notion of 'trickle down' economics, which removes the wealthy of the state from any social responsibility violates his own religious leader's advice.

Brownback's childish bid for national attention in legislating  reactionary regressive economic programs on the backs of working people is despicable. His simplistic solutions to complex government economic systems are reckless based on dogmatic interpretations of a non-existent "free market" and contempt for very real democratic collectivist remedies.

No sooner than the state's economy started a slow recovery from the 2008 nationwide Great Recession than these zealots under the banner of "small government" initiated extreme austerity upon the state government at all levels. 

I have taken to describing them as neo-Confederates, campaigns flush with corporate funding have one simple immediate result; low paying jobs and less government programs to supplement the income, or educate the working poor.

Economic inequality; where statewide Recession-level food sales taxes continue, workers' pay checks shrink in use-value allows  wealthy Kansans to game and gain more wealth.

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