Show Your Work: Sesame Street News

• Two freelance journalists have won the American Mosaic Journalism Prize, which honors work about underrepresented groups. Dara Mathis wrote “A Blueprint for Black Liberation” for the Atlantic about growing up in a radical Black commune, and Tamir Kalifa won for his photographs of the aftermath of the 2022 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Kalifa is currently stationed in Israel covering the Israel-Hamas war. It’s not immediately clear how often freelancers have won the award, which is the largest dollar prize – $100,000 – given to journalists in the U.S.

• Cook County Ill. has dropped charges against the students who placed a parody wrap around the student newspaper at Northwestern University. The newspaper had condemned the act as vandalism, but its leaders intervened to stop prosecution. Of course, “parody” is kind of a stretch, since it was a serious protest regarding Gaza. However, at least 80 Daily Northwestern alums wrote a letter arguing that charges should be dropped on the altar of free speech.

• Speaking of which… this one takes some real gall. The Los Angeles Police Department released photos of officers after they were sued over a public records request. The officers then sued the department over it alleging violation of their privacy, and the LAPD retaliated with legal action against a journalist and a watchdog group for publishing the photos. The photos that the LAPD itself released. A public statement condemning this action has been co-signed by the Society of Professional Journalists (national and the L.A. chapter); the Asian Americans Journalists Association; Latino Journalists of California; Los Angeles Press Club; Media Guild of the West; National Association of Hispanic Journalists; Radio Television Digital News Association and the Freelancer Journalist Union.

• A reporter has finally sued over last years police raid on a small newspaper office. If you’ll recall, police raided the office and the owner’s home because a local restaurant owner was mad at the paper. Literally. That’s all they had. “Identity theft” was the official statement, from publishing public records.

• On a lighter note, Grover of Sesame Street has apparently joined the profession. His announcement on the Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Twitter that he is now a journalist was greeted by fellow journalists with predictable cynicism.

“I regret to report a hedge fund has since purchased Grover’s paper and laid him off,” wrote S.P. Sullivan, a reporter with NJ.com. “Unfortunately, Grover was fired for not hitting his three story a day quota,” said Scott Nover, a contributing writer for Slate.

Ouch. But Grover’s not the first Muppet to join the Fourth Estate. Old people like me will remember Kermit’s many years in a trenchcoat reporting for Sesame Street News. And who could forget Cookie Monster’s tough negotiations?

And now, this week in total bullshit:

• The NOAA is not “cooking the books” on climate change. Once again, TB originates with a Fox News host who alleged that NOAA was basing its temperature collection on thermometers left on urban concrete and asphalt. Politifact dealt with this.

Former President Trump alleged that Wisconsin’s 20-week limit on abortion access is “way outside international bounds.” However, the majority of European countries range from 10 weeks (Portugal) to 24 weeks (U.K.). Wisconsin is currently considering narrowing it to 14 weeks.

• Nope, Texas can’t secede from the U.S. There was kind of a little war about that, you might recall, if you live in a state that still lets you learn about it.

• No, radiation poisoning is not the cause of COVID-19. Also, Mr. DeSantis, the boosters do not make it more likely you’ll get COVID. Is it unconstitutional to require all voters to take a remedial science class?

And what was not (completely) bullshit? The U.S. homicide rate has declined significantly, with preliminary data showing about a 10-12 percent drop in homicide. However, PolitiFact research indicates some politicians are a little too quick to credit the crime reduction bill with the drop and there may be multiple factors behind it.

February 2024 linkspam: The First Duty

I have traditionally taken January off from public appearances and traveling, in an increasingly vain attempt to maintain my sanity. That means January is usually pretty quiet. In this case, it was quiet, gray, and very very cold. January is not my favorite month.

However, I have AWP to look forward to! The annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs is coming up early in February, and I couldn’t be more excited. AWP is more literary-focused than the other conventions I go to, with a heavy emphasis on literary fiction and creative nonfiction and oh so much poetry. I attended my first in-person AWP last year in Seattle, and immersed myself in words for five days. It was wonderfully creative and the energy was so invigorating, I can almost forget that I came home with pneumonia. Yay! 

This time it’s in Kansas City, which is a short drive from my home base in St. Louis. It’s good that it’s so close in the year that I am most impoverished, so I am saved any tough choices. I will be blogging daily from AWP on my Patreon, so if you were ever thinking about subscribing, now is a great time! It’s a dollar a month, which is $12 for a whole year – such a deal! Short stories, poetry, travelogues, writing articles, essays, photography. Click here to find out more. 

I’ve also launched two new blog features, fiction is progressing and there’s a bunch more to share, so read on, MacDuff.

Publicity/Appearances

I’m delighted to announce that I have been accepted as an attending professional once again at Dragoncon. DC is notoriously selective, and I’ve been honored each time they have accepted me. So I’ll be spending Labor Day weekend in Hotlanta once again, to meet and greet my 70,000 closest friends!

Before that, however, the schedule is shaping up for the year. First we have Conflation, which takes place in St. Louis later this month. This year’s theme is Apocalypse, which I think means I get to wear pants. We’ll be bringing the Literary Underworld Traveling Bar, of course, and I’ll be running a writing workshop using apocalyptic images to spur writing sprints. It should be a nifty exercise, and I’m looking forward to it.

The journalism side has been pretty busy as well. Unfortunately we had to postpone the Student Boot Camp where I was to talk journalism ethics with undergrads, but it’s being rescheduled for September. In the meantime, we are deep into planning the Society of Professional Journalists’ Regional Conference right here in St. Louis, and I’ll be neck-deep in that project for the next couple of months. 

Added to the schedule: the National Federation of Professional Women has asked me to speak at their conference on June 20-22. The topic hasn’t been decided yet, but it’ll be either freelance writing or fiction. Or both. Whichever! I can run my mouth forever. 

Unfortunately, I had to opt out of ConCarolinas this year. It’s always a blast, and I know that weekend I will have some serious FOMO for missing it. But alas, it’s a plane flight and hotel on my own, and something had to give with the budget this year. My best wishes to the Carolinas Crew and all my good friends at Falstaff Books, which always has a big presence at that show. 

2024 calendar:
• Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Kansas City, Mo. Feb. 7-10 (attending)
• Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 23-25
• Midsouthcon, Memphis, Tenn. March 22-24 
• Sigma Tau Delta conference, St. Louis, Mo. April 3-6 (attending)
• SPJ regional conference, St. Louis, Mo. (date TBA)
• National Federation of Professional Women, St. Louis,Mo. June 2022 (speaker)
• TechWrite STL, St. Louis, Mo. July 10 (speaker)
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 19-21
• Dragoncon, Atlanta, Ga. Sept. 5-9 
• Edwardsville Book Festival, Edwardsville, Ill. Oct. 12 (tent.)
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Oct. 4-6 


Journalism

• Highland extends two TIF districts and create a third (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo News)
• State settles with Illinois contractor over unlawfully deducted wages (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland residents have mixed opinions of new trash service (Highland News-Leader and AOL News)
• United Steelworkers file grievances over U.S. Steel’s plan to sell to Nippon (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Durbin, Duckworth call for non-unionized automakers to stop interfering in unionization efforts (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Projected increase in property values should lower tax rate in Highland (Highland News-Leader and AOL News)
• A year of workers’ rights in Illinois (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• As work continues at water-damaged city hall, Highland officials try to pin down costs (Highland News-Leader and AOL News)
• Federal legislators seek answers in sale of U.S. Steel to Nippon Steel (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• We’re Outside levels up al fresco dining in Alton (Feast Magazine)
• Steelworkers concerned about sale of U.S. Steel to overseas owner (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Identity of woman who died in Highland fire is released (Belleville News-Democrat)
• Steelworkers reach settlement with U.S. Steel over Granite City layoffs (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Two labor giants pass away in one week (with Ed Finkelstein) (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Congresswoman moves to expand relief to UFCW grocery workers (St. Louis Labor Tribune)

Note: Not all articles are available online, and some may be behind paywalls. 

Blogs

With the new year, I’ve started two new blog features. I used to do an annual post titled Show Your Work, where I would highlight instances where journalists uncovered badness and brought about real change. The problem was that I was forever forgetting to update my file, and so the post was generally limited to the major award winners.

But there’s a lot of work that never wins an award or any special attention, but it blows the lid off something awful. And once the light is on, they can’t pretend it’s not happening. As P.J. O’Rourke used to say, journalists turn on the light and watch the roaches scurry.

Thus each week I have posted on DonaldMedia.com a roundup of Show Your Work, along with updates in the journalism world and a rundown on what was total garbage on the internet this week. Like you, I am tired of seeing rampant misinformation mindlessly reposted on Facebook without the simple Google search that would show it’s completely wrong. Thus the quote above: the first duty is to the truth. 

As a corollary to that, I have begun posting BookNotes on ElizabethDonald.com that not only updates on the latest kerfuffle in the publishing and speculative fiction universes, but follows the ongoing issue of book banning and censorship in the U.S. I was worried at first that I wouldn’t find enough information to make that a weekly post. Alas. 

This is a longer intro than usual, but suffice to say, there will be more blog posts in the future. They will be cross-posted to Patreon to make it easier for my Patrons. Note that neither blog feature will appear next week unless I get super ambitious, as I will be at AWP. 

• BookNotes: Nevermore (Elizabeth Donald)
• Show Your Work: Zappa to me (Donald Media)
• BookNotes: Gang aft a’gley (Elizabeth Donald)
• Show Your Work: Malarkey! (Donald Media)
• BookNotes: AI and book banning, once again (Elizabeth Donald)
• Show Your Work: Snow truth to it (sorry) (Donald Media)
• Show Your Work: It’s not like they didn’t know the schools were falling down (Donald Media)
• Show Your Work: January is off to a banging start (Donald Media)


Fiction

I am happy to say the manuscript for Blackfire Rising is now in the hands of my editor at Falstaff Books. I can’t wait to (re)introduce you all to the Blackfire crew. They are always so fun to write, and with the new characters being introduced – wait, I’m ahead of myself. Suffice to say I think you’re really going to enjoy it. More to come… 

Patreon/Medium

• The snake rule, or words we keep in newsrooms for no good reason (Patreon and Medium)
• Review: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store (Patreon)
• Review: Wonka and the taste of nostalgia (Patreon)
• The White Star Line wineglass (Medium)
• Review: Falling by TJ Newman (Patreon)
• To be a writer, one must also read (Medium)
• Those writer’s resolutions… (Patreon)
• The 2023rd top-ten list you’ll see this week (Medium)

Note: All Patreon entries are indexed going back to its launch in 2018. I wanted new Patrons to be able to easily find the work that they’ve missed, and hopefully seeing how much work is on the Patreon might encourage some good folks to subscribe. (Hint, hint.) Seriously, subscriptions start at $1 a month, and I truly believe some of the best work I’ve ever done is on the Patreon. Check out the index here.


Photography

• Fly like an eagle (Patreon)

I have also added a whole new gallery to the webstore. I have so much travel photography now that I decided to put together some galleries for the places I’ve visited. Baltimore, Yosemite, Paris, Notre Dame, Las Vegas, Seattle, Washington D.C…. okay, really, my job does rock. Almost all of the images in the galleries are available for purchase, so if you see something you like that isn’t in the store, email kyates@donaldmedia.com and we’ll get you a quote. 

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Show Your Work: Zappa to me

Top of the week: The Riverfront Times reports that a number of landlord corporations cashed in on COVID relief funds and then evicted the residents of apartment complexes they failed to keep up.

Eighty tenants in Ferguson, Mo. were given three days to move out of their apartments, only weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the federal eviction moratorium. The owners received financial aid to cover rent and utilities for tenants, on the level of millions. But for some reason the residents got evicted anyway.

Mike Fitzgerald’s investigation was cofounded by the River City Journalism Fund, filing FOIA (Sunshine Law) requests in the notoriously FOIA-averse state and compiling some damning evidence. Read the whole thing at the link, with names of the landlords who received the most money – as much as $1.5 million.

The River City Journalism Fund is a nonprofit paying grants and stipends to St. Louis writers to increase public-interest coverage; supporting paid fellowships and internships; and other activities to promote public service journalism in the St. Louis region.

In other news:

The 2024 First Amendment Awards have been announced: Lauren Chooljian with New Hampshire Public Radio and ProPublica. Chooljian is honored for her reporting on sexual misconduct allegations against the owner of a New England addiction treatment conglomerate, for which she was targeted with vandalism and threats as well as attempts at legal intimidation. And as you’ve seen in just a few weeks of this blog feature, ProPublica consistently funds the kind of investigative journalism we desperately need across the country.

• An employee of the Worthington Globe in Minnesota has been subject to harassment and vandalism, because they *checks notes* reported on the display of pride flags in public schools. This led to homophobic messages spray-painted on their car. The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists has issued a public statement in support of the staff for continuing their coverage and not backing down in the face of intimidation and harassment.

Freelance journalist Tim Burke’s home was raided by the FBI after he reported on outtakes of a Tucker Carlson interview with Kanye West on Fox News. Eight months later Burke has not even been given the affidavit used to secure the search warrant and his equipment is still being withheld. Burke was using publicly accessible websites to report, and SPJ is assisting with his legal team, which includes the founder of the Department ofJustice Cybercrime Unit.

Writers at New York Daily News, Forbes and Conde Nast walked off the job for the first time in a century. Likewise the Los Angeles Times had a one-day walkout, followed by a layoff of 115 employees; and then there’s the hell going on at Sports Illustrated. Meanwhile, the staff of the late Messenger have filed a lawsuit alleging a violation of the WARN Act in the sudden layoff of every employee with no notice, adding to the 500+ journalists laid off in the last month.

And I can’t even bear to read this report, though I will: Illinois has lost 85 percent of its newspaper journalists, the highest percentage in the country, and 38 of 102 counties have one or zero local sources of news. (Though I often quibble with complaints that reliance on freelancers means there is no local news. We freelancers do just as well or sometimes better than we would as full-timers. Where do you think those 85 percent went?) More in-depth looks at that report when I have the spoons and bourbon to get through it.

• Speaking of layoffs, the Society of Professional Journalists has assembled a number of resources to help journalists hit with the first-quarter layoffs. Membership fee waivers, job listings, discounts for insurance, support from fellow journalists and more can be found in We’re In This Together.

• On the good side, Mother Jones has merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, formalizing a partnership that has produced a number of investigative pieces in years past: an investigation last year about how the nation’s largest chain of psychiatric hospitals harms foster kids; a report in 2022 about national efforts to restrict people’s ability to vote; and an investigation in 2021 about labor abuses at sugarcane plantations in the Dominican Republic, according to Editor and Publisher.


This Week in Total Bullshit:

• If your feed is full of whiny manbabies complaining that NFL games are now the Taylor Swift Show, you could choose to point them toward this study that shows exactly how many seconds of a three-hour football game features an image of a player’s very very famous girlfriend. Spoiler alert: it’s 25 seconds. That’s how little coverage of a successful woman is necessary to make some men lose their damn minds. The responses have included AI-created degrading porn images of Swift, complaints that “NFL Media” is”forcing Taylor Swift” on football fans, idiot vids on TikTok burning a Chiefs jersey and Swift album cover; and my favorite: allegations that Travis Kelce’s $70,000 Superb Owl bonus check is her motive for dating him. Boys, Kelce is worth about $40 million; Swift is worth $1.1 BILLION. As was wearily pointed out on BlueSky: a woman can run her own freaking entertainment empire and kick off a massive uptick in an entire athletic industry just by going to the games, and she’ll still be accused of being a gold-digger. I can’t even touch “Swift is a psy-op asset of the DoD” and “The Super Bowl is fixed to help Swift so she can endorse Biden.” I honestly gave up collecting the most ridiculous of the memes halfway through the week, because there’s only so many times I can wade into incel bullshit. Go Chiefs.

• I see it’s once again making the rounds, that infamous Frank Zappa quote where he shakes his fist at the clouds and insists that once upon a time, kids were taught civics in school, and then they took it away and replaced it with “social studies,” and now we’re a bunch of ignorant clods who don’t understand basic government. Also, it was a conspiracy.

First: There is no proof that Zappa actually said this asinine thing. Instead, it sounds very much like the sort of thing spread on the internet to cast shade on teachers, public education, intellectual curiosity, you know, things Zappa was generally in favor of.

Second, and far more important: It’s garbage. Every state in the union requires civic learning in its standards or curriculum, whether they call it that or American government etc. Nearly every state specifically says civics. More than 35 states require students to demonstrate proficiency, such as Illinois, which requires all students to pass a test on the U.S. Constitution in order to graduate high school, regardless of grades in any American government or social studies course.

The Zappa quote tends to dance in partnership with the “kids oughta learn how to balance a checkbook and change a tire and all that stuff insteada this dumb book-learnin they gotta do on the computerz” crap we get from time to time. It comes down to blaming the teachers for the sheer quantity of ignorance and gullible knee-jerk outrage we see on the internet, as people take a meme or some rando’s Facebook post at face value instead of doing a simple Google search, and finding the civic education study by the Education Commission of the States in 2016.

No, we don’t have any handy scapegoats for what we see on Facebook. The teachers were speaking. Some folks just weren’t listening.

For extra credit: Mother Jones details why teaching civics is important, and notes areas for improvement.

• Speaking of which, a particularly viral bit of nonsense is asking “why y’all aren’t mad your retirement is moving to 70?” Of course, the collective response to that from my generation is, “What’s retirement?” We grew up being told that Social Security was going to be bankupt by the time we were old enough to think about it, and nobody likes to talk about the fact that Social Security has been quietly saved by undocumented immigrants.

(Yup. Approximately 95 percent of undocumented immigrants are employed, paying $100 billion into Social Security through illicit SS numbers from 2000 to 2011 and creating a $35 billion surplus, according to an actuarial note developed by the office of the Chief Actuary that makes for good insomnia treatment. In 2016 alone, they contributed $13 billion to Social Security and $3 billion to Medicare. Say thank you.)

Back to the point: The other reason why no one’s mad about the retirement age moving to 70: it isn’t happening. Not yet, and probably not for a while. The age of retirement is as it has been for a long time: 65 to 67 for maxed-out Social Security. Also, even with the age-67 max-out, the average American retires even earlier, at age 62, even though Medicare doesn’t kick in until 65. The average worker plans to retire at or after 67, yet they actually skip out earlier – though, as USA Today points out, it’s often spurred by life. Layoffs, physical limitations, illness, etc. cause 56 percent of retirees to throw in the towel sooner than they had planned.

The only basis for this meme I can find is the everlasting GOP proposal to raise the retirement age to 70. It’s been 67 since 1983, and we live a lot longer now, they argue. Where did I see this before? Oh yeah, in 2016. And pretty much every year, including this year. GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley says people in their 20s should have a retirement set in accordance with life expectancy, while former President Donald Trump says he won’t make any cuts to the programs but will not give them additional funding, which is some interesting math with rising numbers of retirees.

So, why aren’t people mad? Because it never actually happens. Like retirement.

• The COVID-19 vaccine’s spike protein does not replace sperm in men who receive it. Add biology to the classes where people weren’t paying any damn attention. It also doesn’t “shut off” your heart, and Travis Kelce’s hand gesture doesn’t have a damn thing to do with vaccines.

• There is no secret video footage implicating former President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Bill Gates and •checks notes• Oprah Winfrey in the death of Jeffrey Epstein. I’m almost embarrassed to have to debunk this stuff.

Note: Next week I am back on the road, attending the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Kansas City. Daily travelogues and convention write-ups will appear on Patreon, so now is a great time to subscribe! There will be no Show Your Work or BookNotes next week due to the conference, unless I get super ambitious. But I’ll be back the next week!

Show Your Work: Malarkey!

First up: WBEZ has found that the suburb of Ford Heights has collected more than $100,000 in taxpayer money for a library that hasn’t existed for 30 years.

The station requested records that showed the public library district has received more than $121,000 from property taxes as distributed by Cook County. That’s a surprise to the all-volunteer Ford Heights Library Board, which operates out of a temporary space in a community center since its building failed to meet codes and has never received the collected funds. And because the library district exists, the residents of the majority-Black high-poverty suburb can’t get full-access cards at other libraries.

The story has been picked up by the Chicago Sun-Times. Shockingly enough, officials have not returned calls requesting disclosure of where the money has gone.

Meanwhile, a New York Times analysis of the Alaska Airlines incident where a door flew off the plane found that the door plug relied on two pairs of bolts and metal pins to stay in place, and it’s likely a manufacturing lapse in the bolts caused the door to fly off. A door plug, by the way, is basically a replacement for the emergency door that was removed because the plane didn’t have enough seats. By the way, they’ve found loose bolts on many other Boeing Max 9 planes. Happy flying!

Also, Reuters found that North Korea is developing artificial intelligence for pandemic response and … wait for it… wargaming simulations. Okay, it wasn’t much of an investigation – they found the study – but still. Shall we play a game?

And This Week in Total Bullshit:

• President Biden did not record a robocall telling New Hampshire Democrats to “save their votes for November.” Dubbed “malarkey” by Politifact, a faked recording filled voicemails telling them to skip the primary, and gave a number for them to be removed from the call list that goes to the cell phone of the former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. The state attorney general is now investigating the case, as it is a felony to use fraudulent information to deter someone from voting. Side note: Politifact has dug up the various ways that AI can be used by overseas operators to disrupt the political process. Of course, we do a great job of that on our own without AI “help.”

• A pro-Trump ad aimed at GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley misrepresented her comments on immigration, amnesty and “criminals.”

• And what was not total bullshit? No-longer-candidate Ron DeSantis said as president, Trump deported fewer undocumented immigrants than former President Barack Obama, and he was right.

However, in his farewell speech posted on the Artist Formerly Known as Twitter, DeSantis quoted Winston Churchill as saying, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” Very nice words, except Churchill never said that, according to the International Churchill Society, the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College and a Churchill historian, as researched by Politifact.

Light week! See something you think I should include? Feel free to send it to us.

Show Your Work: Snow truth to it (sorry)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger did a background run on the drone company user who decided he was going to solve St. Louis crime with drones, never mind laws or the wishes of the actual residents of this city. Funny enough: the drone guy has two corporate addresses, neither of which has an office from him.

• ProPublica found that Walmart financial services have been used by scammers to bilk consumers out of more than $1 billion by exploiting Walmart’s lax security. Apparently as people were being scammed, Walmart has resisted enforcement, broken promises to regulators and avoided tougher training. Apparently it makes more money with the scammer transactions than it would by enforcing only legitimate transactions. The FTC has sued Walmart over this practice.

• Who broke the story of former Harvard president Claudine Gay’s battle? The student journalists of the Harvard Crimson, who had a series of exclusives on that particular mess and scooped the national press several times. Go kids.

• The Chronicle of Higher Education found that Liberty University has systematically failed to adhere to federal crime disclosure laws and is now on notice with the U.S. Department of Education. There were at least 12 violations of the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires colleges to publicize campus crime statistics and notify students and employees of threats to their safety. Violations included destroying records of sexual assault investigations, forbidding police from issuing timely crime alerts, punishing survivors of sexual assault for reporting, and more.

• In 2022, a Texas school superintendent called a meeting with the school librarians. He told them that the city was very conservative and anyone who had different political beliefs “better hide it.” This was his preamble for ordering them to remove any books he considered explicitly sexual, which included any mention of LGBTQ people, even if those books did not include sex. He also stated that “there are two genders. There’s male and there’s female… I don’t have issues with what people want to believe, but there’s no place for it in our libraries.” When someone asked if books on racism were acceptable, he said books on different cultures were great but anything about trans or LGBTQ people was out. This was investigated by the Texas Tribune via a recording obtained by the Tribune, ProPublica and NBC News, and on the basis of that analysis, the ACLU filed suit. What’s new: now the U.S. Department of Education is opening its own investigation under the office for civil rights.

• WABE and ProPublica found that in more than 700 cases over five years, the state of Georgia took children from their unhoused parents even though it would be cheaper to help the families get housing than put the children in foster care.

• Last week we talked about the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s investigation on the FDA’s failure to issue warnings about Philips breathing machines; this week the GAO will launch an inquiry under the direction of U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

This Week in Total Bullshit:

• I’m a tad concerned that there were a grand total of two journalists attending Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ town hall in New Hampshire, and both were Politifact fact-checkers. I know it’s snowy and the last debate was canceled, but where was the rest of the road crew? Anyway, they fact-checked all of DeSantis’ claims.

• Somehow 25 percent of U.S. adults still believe the FBI organized the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. This week the House committee investigating it detailed yet again that it’s TB, and yet. If you need details, here they are. Oh, one of those U.S. adults is U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), who made the claim during a committee hearing.

• Birther claims have a new target: GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley. Allegations are circulating on social media that Haley’s parents weren’t citizens when she was born, which has absolutely no basis in fact, not that that ever stops social media. She was born in South Carolina. It’s been circulated in a couple of conservative news websites and former President Trump shared it on Truth Social. So Haley joins the Birther Target Club whose members include former President Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and the late U.S. Sen. John McCain.

• German highways did not get blocked by electric cars running out of charge in the cold. The picture in that viral post was Chicago, not Germany; 2011, not this week; and there’s no evidence that the vehicles are electric. The 2011 snowfall was two feet of snow and the vehicles were abandoned after collisions between a city bus and other vehicles blocked the lanes.

• The Times Square billboard reading “Ceasefires are anti-semitic” is not only misspelled, but never appeared in Times Square as alleged. The Israeli-American Council paid for billboards that read “Be human. Stand for Israel.”

• No, Tom Hanks did not flee to Israel after the release of the Epstein documents. Seriously? HANKS? You have to be kidding, liars. He’s one of the few saintly humans we have left. Also, he hasn’t converted to Judaism that we know of, not that that would matter.

• As referenced in this piece about A.I. girlfriends, it is NOT true that Elon Musk is creating Stepford-type robot wives for lonely incels. The image of Musk kissing a robot woman were digital AI creations by the same guy that created an image of Pope Francis wearing a Balenciaga coat. (The reason for such creations is an exercise left for the reader.) A.I. girlfriends, however, do exist…

• Lil Nas X was not accepted into Liberty University’s Biblical studies program. Seriously?

• And finally, what was NOT total bullshit? Yes, Mississippi and Alabama still celebrate Robert E. Lee Day on the day the rest of us celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. President Reagan declared it a national holiday in 1983, but Mississippi held on to Lee Day as it had celebrated since 1910. Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana and Alabama also had Lee Day or Lee-King Day, but the others have finally dropped it from their official calendars. In 2018 and 2023, a Mississippi state legislator introduced bills to separate MLK and Lee. The bill died in committee. In Alabama, a bill to eliminate Lee Day was introduced and died the same day – this year. Note: As late as 1997, my first husband was attending a community college in northern Mississippi that still had “Robert E. Lee Day” listed on its calendar as a day off school.

Whew. This is just one week, folks. It’s gonna be a long election year.

Show Your Work: It’s not like they didn’t know the schools were falling down

Show Your Work is a regular feature on Donald Media highlighting stories where journalists uncovered badness, shining the light in darkness; and where we have debunked the total bullshit you see online.

• The Idaho Journal-Statesman partnered with ProPublica to investigate how restrictive school funding led to massive disrepair in hundreds of schools. The state actually stopped inspecting the schools, so it fell to the journalists and the students themselves to evaluate the state of their schools for the first time in 30 years. Bad roofs, freezing cold classrooms, lack of disability access, poor security, dilapidated bathrooms, holes in the walls with exposed wiring, flooding and more.

This week, the Idaho governor announced $2 billion in funding over the next 10 years to repair the schools, citing the journalists’ investigation as the impetus for the biggest investment in school infrastructure in the state’s history. Of course, it was pretty clear everyone involved knew the schools were falling down. But once the light shines on it, they can’t ignore it anymore.

• Also in the category of “it took a journalist to make it happen,” Illinois has closed a juvenile detention center exposed by Capital News and ProPublica for multiple violations of its own standards: leaving kids locked up for 24 hours or more, ignoring medical needs, etc. In the key incident, the undertrained and underpaid staff called in deputies when two inmates yelled at each other, and they broke one of the boys’ arms. He was then left in his cell to suffer, his arm untreated and handcuffed, for hours. Kids were denied access to medication, tased and beaten, and given little to no education despite laws requiring it. The country tried throwing money at it, but a judge has ordered closure of the facility. Note: staff was being paid $28,000 a year. No wonder they were understaffed. A lawsuit is pending from the ACLU.

The Trace and ProPublica obtained audio recordings of the NRA’s CEO discussing a plan to conceal his luxury expenses, including private jets and stays at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The New York Attorney General was unaware of the recording, though they are currently investigating the NRA for financial malfeasance.

• Technically they’re not journalists, but PEN America is a First Amendment advocacy group that has often stood with journalists and as we have often said, an act of journalism can come from anyone. PEN America found that when Florida removed 1,600 books from its schools, they also removed five variations of the dictionary as well as the World Book Encyclopedia. As soon as they posted the list, of course, Florida hastened to say that the dictionary wasn’t banned, no, of course not, and then it disappeared from the list.

And a few weeks ago, the Washington Post reviewed 1,000 book challenges and found what was blindingly obvious but people still won’t believe it until there’s a study: They’re banning mostly sexual, LGBTQ or racial content while claiming it’s not about racism or homophobia; the majority of 1,000 challenges were filed by 11 people; and LGBTQ books are not only likely to be challenged, but most likely to be banned after review. even more than books by or about people of color.

And now, for This Week in Total Bullshit:

• The Fort Worth hotel explosion was caused by a gas leak, according to the actual officials investigating it. That Facebook post circulating blaming it on “Sahil Omar” is TB. The same name has circulated blaming him the Rainbow Bridge catastrophe in Canada and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas shooting.

• I can’t believe it’s circulating again, but no, Facebook/Zuckerberg have not forbidden posting The Lord’s Prayer on the site. It’s been shared more than 500,000 times from a 2022 post of a 2020 rumor and it’s still not frigging true.

• Tucker Carlson interviewed a podcaster who declared that the COVID-19 vaccine has killed 17 million people. It should be blindingly obvious that this is TB, but just in case, Annenberg debunked it. Sadly, they’ve found that the Americans who believe the vaccine is deadline is now up to 34 percent, up from 22 percent two years ago.

• That video of people fleeing is not Chinese migrants fleeing Russia to avoid being forced into the war. Reuters dug into what it’s really about.

• Annenberg also went into all the claims from former President Trump’s town hall and the last GOP debate.

And, oddly, what was NOT total bullshit: The circulating meme on kids leaving bottles with drano and aluminum foil that can explode. Yes, that’s actually a thing. Snopes checked it years ago.

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Show Your Work: January is off to a banging start

A long, long time ago in a social medium far far away, I did a daily Linkspam post that covered all the major headlines of the day with my own particular snark. It eventually morphed into an annual Show Your Work post, in which I would highlight the best journalism of the year. Problem: Life gets busy, I get distracted by shiny objects, and I was always forgetting to add to my Show Your Work list, so it generally fell to the award winners.

But there’s a whole lot of journalism that flies under the national radar, the kind of serious, important work being done by the reporters right around the corner from you, and they never get the credit they deserve for shining the light on the badness. They get angry emails and they get death threats on Twitter – excuse me, X – and when bad guys are finally brought to justice, no one remembers that the scandal started when a journalist got curious.

More to the point: I am furious beyond the reaches of metaphor at the number of people from all political and socioeconomic backgrounds who whine that “the media” is a giant Borg hive-mind of automatons spitting out what corporate masters tell us to say, and other highly offensive nonsense that clearly shows the person saying it has never set foot in a newsroom. Show Your Work was intended to collect all the best of us in one place as a metaphorical shotgun blast to open people’s minds to the work being done in their local and national newsrooms, which has little to do with hairdos bloviating on cable news networks.

So I’m bringing it back, as a regular feature on this too-quiet blog.

What do I look for in Show Your Work? Basically, I’m looking at pieces where journalists step in to do the work that regulatory agencies and law enforcement should be doing, highlighting injustice and malfeasance that would not come to light without the work of the media, and especially those that made an actual difference. Accompanying that will be “This Week in Total Bullshit,” because if I see people reposting that copypaste paragraph that will totally cut off your Facebook ads and eliminate their primary revenue, my head may spin around and fly around the room.

So this will be a recurring feature, to the point that I can manage it. I want to promise a weekly post, but let’s be real: Advocating for my profession and the ethical practice thereof is my passion, but not work I get paid to do. Rent is due. So… as much as I can?

• First up we have the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Riverfront Times, both of which published photos this week taken by an attorney inside the St. Louis Jail, which has had enormous problems and allegations of misconduct and there’s a bunch else we reporters and the lawyers in this city could tell you if we were free to do so. Apparently Kevin O’Schaughnessy is being held in the jail and has developed a hernia the size of a cantaloupe, which allegedly is not being treated. The attorney took the photo as evidence, and in response they… outlawed cell phones by attorneys. O’Shaughnessy, by the way, was shot by police multiple times while having a mental breakdown, is partially paralyzed with a traumatic brain injury, and is being held in the jail without a wheelchair and little access to clean clothes or a shower.

• Former president Donald Trump did not sign an oath of loyalty promising not to overthrow the government when he filed for election in Illinois. The oath dates back to the McCarthy era and can’t be formally required because it would be unconstitutional, but Trump had no problem signing it in 2016 and 2020. This was discovered by a joint analysis of candidate petitions conducted by WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times. President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the oath with their petitions.

And this week in Total Bullshit….

No, Florida is not removing Democrats from voter rolls. Approximately 1 million people were removed, half of them were Democrats, and you get removed from the rolls if you have two election cycles of inactivity.

No, T-Mobile is not fining its customers $3,500 for text messages involving sex, hate, alcohol and tobacco. Which, by the way, the TikTokkers blame on Biden, who I guess is running T-Mobile in his spare time. The prohibition applies to commercial advertising via text messages and they are not reading your secret texts to your side piece, dudes.

• Duh, Jimmy Kimmel was NOT on Jeffrey Epstein’s lists, and he may be suing football player Aaron Rodgers for making the claim with no evidence on an ESPN show. Then the internet was off and running with fake documents on iFunny (seriously, people, check your sources) and none of it is in the actual court documents. For what it’s worth, the “big release” turned out to be mostly a nothing burger, with names named that everyone already knew.

• Do I need to say that the social media brigade declaring that the shooting in Perry, Iowa was faked are totally full of it and their “false flag” claims are pathological and damaging? Fine then, FactCheck.org (which is operated by the Annenberg Public Policy Center) confirmed it.

• Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo announced this week that we should stop using the COVID vaccines because *checks notes* they will alter our DNA into frogs or something. Annenberg has assembled approximately a gazillion experts saying it’s nonsense. Who you gonna believe, your doctor or a TikTok scare video? (Don’t answer that, Florida.)

And finally…. my favorite meme pile-on of the week, because it’s just that hysterical. I tried to pick just one and I couldn’t. Paging Gene Roddenberry circa 1966…

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This week in jailing journalists…

“First, they came for the journalists. We don’t know what happened after that.”

It’s a meme, a play on the famous poem by Martin Niemoller, but it’s not wrong. It hasn’t taken long for arresting journalists to become something about which we shrug and scroll on down the feed to something more interesting. After all, there’s still plenty of shouting to be done about playing Christmas carols before Thanksgiving.

At least there was plenty of attention a month or two ago when police flagrantly ignored a boatload of laws and raided the Marion County Record in Kansas, including the home of the publisher’s mother, an elderly woman so distraught by the raid that she died the next day. Law enforcement is supposed to subpoena records from journalists, not raid their offices, but neither police nor the judge seemed to have noticed that part of the law.

It’s news because it’s unusual, right?

Not so much. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker found more than 90 incidents of police raiding offices and homes of newspapers and journalists for work generated in the performance of journalism. They seize phones and computers, and even if the newspaper eventually wins in court, they’ve lost a huge amount of time and productivity, not to mention money. Small organizations can’t fight it, though groups like the Society of Professional Journalists help with the Legal Defense Fund.

A Black reporter interviewing people on a public sidewalk is arrested and accused of harassing people. A bystander recorded the arrest: the reporter clearly identified himself as journalist, but he was arrested anyway and police threatened the guy doing the recording. I heard about it at the Society of Professional Journalists’ media law briefing last month; it hasn’t exactly gone viral on social media.

This week, the publisher and a reporter of the Atmore News in southwestern Alabama were arrested after publishing an investigative piece on the local school board’s payments to seven former employees. They were arrested and charged with… felony journalism? Seriously, with revealing grand-jury proceedings. This is a felony – if you’re a juror or a witness. However, it’s been black-letter Constitutional law for decades that the press can publish grand jury material as long as they weren’t the ones breaking the law. Apparently such fine points as Constitutional rulings no longer matter in Alabama.

Meanwhile, Calumet City, Ill. has issued municipal citations to a reporter from the Daily Southtown for… wait for it… asking questions of public employees. Reporter Hank Sanders had written an article revealing that consultants had told the city stormwater facilities were in bad shape before a major rain caused flooding. The “violation” notice says that he keeps calling city departments and employees via phone and email. You know… JOURNALISM.

EDIT: As of Nov. 6, Calumet City has declared they will dismiss the charges. After hearing from the paper’s lawyers, and since they’re part of Tribune Media, that was the Chicago Tribune’s lawyers, and no word yet on whether they will be compensated for the legal costs involved in getting the city to drop flagrantly illegal charges. I might also note the mayor, who was apparently a driving force behind this charge, is also an Illinois state representative.

A freelance photojournalist was detained and cited while covering a rally for crossing a roadway outside of a marked crosswalk. A freelance journalist shoved and arrested while filming police in Yuma, Arizona, charged with “resisting arrest” after asking an officer for his badge number (on video). A reporter covering the Ohio governor’s news conference is charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest – they claimed he was “disruptive” until body cam footage was released, then charges were dropped.

Eight arrests or criminal charges this year. More than 30 assaults. Nine incidents of prior restraint – the once-rare act of government ordering that information not be published, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which was ordered not to use a mental health report in a murder trial even though it was made available to the public (by mistake, it turns out). Once upon a time, prior restraint was only used when lives or national security was at stake.

All of this has happened this year, in the United States. It used to be we would hear tales of jailed or threatened journalists, of attacks on journalists in person and in court, and it was tales from faraway lands without our much-vaunted protections of the free press.

Now it’s happening right here. I thought you should know about it, while we can still write about it.

Report from Lost Wages: Updates in Media Law

I am attending the SPJ national conference this week in Las Vegas, and one of the highlights today was a briefing on media law that was scarier than any horror novel I’ve written. While I generally do travelogues for my Patreon, I decided this was more relevant to my nonfiction blog here, so you get my summary of the annual media law roundup offered by several media lawyers at the conference.

Have you ever wondered why so many news organizations repeat phrases like “repeating the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen” or “falsely stated that COVID was caused by flying monkeys”? It’s a relatively new device, one that we usually wouldn’t do because it’s supposed to be neutral language – you get to decide who’s full of it, not us!

Well, it’s been black-letter law for decades that repeating a claim you know to be false can leave you legally liable even if your source is the one saying it, not you. Usually this doesn’t involve presidents, but here we are.

Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News was a major topic in the roundup. In short, President Trump said Dominion rigged the voting machines, Fox played it like a cheap drum for months, and Dominion sued Fox for $1.6 billion. With a B.

Fox argued that they had a responsibility to report on what Trump and other GOP leaders were saying, which – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – they had a point. People scream and yell about “why do you give these people a platform” and frankly, we’d all love it if the good people of the U.S. of A. would stop electing lying assholes so we could stop talking to them. I have a list.

However, New York Times v. Sullivan established that a news organization has to have displayed “actual malice” toward a public official in order to be liable, i.e. they had to know they were printing false information and did it anyway with the intent of hurting the subject. The key for Fox News was the release of internal memos and communications revealing that they knew it was all false information, but kept running it because it kept moron eyeballs on the screen. 

The judge in the case issued a summary judgment that no reasonable person could conclude that the statements were true, which is a rare step judges don’t often take. Fox settled for $787 million, the largest defamation settlement in history. I would have added a copy of the SPJ Code of Ethics stapled to every editor’s forehead, but I wasn’t on the jury.

So in short, Dominion didn’t sue CNN et al, because they said “Trump falsely stated” and didn’t repeat his words as if they were true, but sued Fox because they portrayed information they knew to be false as fact. So expect to see that phrase a whole lot in the coming Presidential Silly Season.

The debate within the profession is now centering on slippery slopes and the line between journalistic responsibility and fact-checking vs. arrogantly taking the voters’ place in determining who should be elected. There is concern that this will have a chilling effect on coverage. We are all stretched tight, we have all interviewed liars, and there will be a strong pull by cash-strapped publications to reduce coverage in controversial topics for fear of defamation suits.

That’s the overt level. The subtle level is that Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch indicated interest in overturning Sullivan after a vehemently anti-journalist judge insisted Sullivan makes it too hard for public figures to win defamation suits. Of course, he insisted it was because news organizations are totally controlled by cackling evil liberal cabals (paraphrase) and praised Fox for being owned by “one man and his son.” 

The upshot is that if Sullivan was overturned, we could all be sued to oblivion by any public official who didn’t like the reporting on their race. That is… not good for journalism.

Also coming up in media law: 

The Marion County Record in Kansas was raided by police – including the home of the publisher, whose elderly mother was so distraught she died the next day. This raid was allegedly because the paper was researching DUI reports for a local restaurant owner (whose DUI would mean her liquor license was illegal), and they had been accused of illegal hacking even though they never published the damn story. It always amuses me that they are quick to accuse us of hacking, since most journos I know have trouble attaching a document to an email. Even if they had done it, the raid was a violation of a boatload of laws requiring law enforcement to subpoena records from journalists, not raid them and confiscate their equipment.

Question asked: What do we do as journalists if police show up with a warrant? First of all, in Illinois we have shield laws, but I’m honestly not sure what I could do. The lawyers say we can tell them they cannot enter, and request speaking to a lawyer before warrant is executed because federal and state laws forbid it. They also acknowledge there’s a bit of privilege there, as a white man in a suit might be listened to and a Black man runs a serious chance of getting shot. (One of the questioners later made this point: “As a Black man in America, my number one rule in any interaction with the police is don’t get shot.”

Also, this is not one isolated incident of police overreach. In multiple cities we have seen these warrants blindly approved by cranky judges (or sometimes magistrate judges who are barely lawyers) and haven’t read the federal Privacy Protection Act, then police go to town. Worse: small independent news organizations rarely have the money to fight these things, which is where organizations like SPJ and other First Amendment advocates come in to help support the legal battle.

Finally, we need better training and education of law enforcement, and even of judges. I will say that in times I’ve seen flagrantly illegal actions of public officials – I have a list – many of them could have passed a lie detector declaring that everything they did was absolutely legal and appropriate. But ignorance of the law is not an excuse, and I have little patience for “systemic antagonism against the concept of journalism” as justification for wildly illegal attacks on the press. Certainly I’d be favor of requiring some kind of education program, but let’s face it: law enforcement is not going to voluntarily seek this training unless required by court order.

Most disturbing: A Black reporter interviewing people on a public sidewalk was arrested and accused of harassing people. A bystander recorded the arrest: the reporter clearly identified himself as a journalist and they arrested him anyway (and threatened the guy doing the recording). We don’t hear about this because it’s journalists, and when we are the subject of violence, no one cares. But it’s happening a lot more than you know.

I have a list.

September 2023 Linkspam

The image above was a sign on the wall of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, one of the five host hotels for Dragoncon. I was delighted to return to Dragoncon after an absence of eight years, which was just long enough to remember where the food court is, and completely forget which level you need to find the habitrails. 

And if you’ve ever been to Dragoncon, you know why that sign is hilarious.

I had a delightful time at Dragoncon, plus or minus the usual exhaustion and realizing I am too old for late-night partying (but not too old to hobble about the site). Capping attendance has eliminated some of the congestion – certainly better than it was in 2015 – but it’s still one I wouldn’t recommend for people who have problems with heights, crowds or noise. 

A full daily travelogue of my return to Dragoncon posted on the Patreon for all Patrons – and why haven’t you subscribed yet? If you want to see Obi-Wan KENobi, Starlett O’Hara and other awesome costume pics, you should totally sign up
 

Publicity/Appearances

Appearances slowed down a bit in August, what with Dragoncon and the launch of the fall semester. I’m teaching four classes this fall, which kind of takes a little time and attention. But there’s plenty on the way for the Fall Deathmarch! 

Added to the schedule: I’m honored to be hosted by the Martin (Tenn.) Public Library this Saturday! For those who don’t know, I did my first two years of high school at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore and the second two years at Martin Westview High School, and this weekend is my 30th (!!!) reunion. The library is hosting me for a signing before the reunion, and I’m honored to be there.

Then there’s the Spine Book Fair in St. Louis on Sept. 23, followed by a signing at the Society of Professional Journalists conference in Las Vegas on Sept. 29. Also coming up this fall: the Melting Pot in Granite City on Oct. 7 and Writers of the Riverbend on Oct. 14.

As previously announced, I will not be at Archon as it conflicts with SPJ, but the Literary Underworld will be there under my husband’s supervision, so you should be sure to grab books from us at the show! 

Note that my workshop for Plethora of Pens originally slated for Sept. 11 is being rescheduled. I’ll announce the new date when I know it. 

Added to the schedule: presenting at the RWA/St. Louis Writers Guild conference hosted at the St. Louis Central Library on Oct. 21, and I am confirmed as a guest for Midsouthcon in Memphis next March.

Finally: Don’t forget Leclaire Parkfest! It’s not an official author appearance, but I run the St. Andrew’s charity book fair in Edwardsville and we do an extra sale at Parkfest to benefit the American Cancer Society. The festival is Sunday, Oct. 15 at Leclaire Park in Edwardsville, Ill. and it’s a lot of fun! Come by and say hello.

Whew! 

2023 calendar:
• Martin Public Library, Martin, Tenn. Sept. 9 
• Spine Book Fair, St. Louis, Mo. Sept. 23 
• SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (presenter/book signing)
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 (LitUnd only)
• The Melting Pot, Granite City, Ill. Oct. 7
• Writers of the Riverbend, Alton, Ill. Oct. 14
• Leclaire Parkfest, Edwardsville, Ill. Oct. 15 (charity sale only)
• RWA/St. Louis Writers Guild, St. Louis Central Library, Oct. 21
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Nov. 10-12 (solo and LitUnd)

2024 calendar:
• Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Kansas City, Mo. Feb. 7-10
• Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 23-25
• Midsouthcon, Memphis, Tenn. March 22-24 
• Sigma Tau Delta conference, St. Louis, Mo. April 3-6 (tent.)
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. May 31-June 2 (tent.)


Journalism

• What’s causing enrollment to drop in Highland schools? (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo News)
• Construction gets underway at Highland’s new primary school (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo News)
• U.S. Steel rejects buyout proposal (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Lemon House Bakes crafts artful sugar cookies (Feast Magazine)
• Speakeasy Parlor taking reservations (Feast Magazine)
• Union resistance stalls sale at Granite City Works (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Community helps Highland police end burglaries (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo News)
• Installation of solar panels projects millions of savings for Highland (Highland News-Leader)
• AFSCME Council ratifies contract with Illinois (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Illinois establishes hubs for ‘clean jobs’ (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• AFSCME Council reaches tentative agreement with state (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Rebuild Illinois includes millions for construction (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland provides escape from deadly heat (Highland News-Leader)

Note: Not all articles are available online, and some may be behind paywalls. 

Blogs

• Fall Deathmarch (Elizabeth Donald)
• Signing added in Martin, Tenn. (Elizabeth Donald)
• Dragoncon Schedule (Elizabeth Donald and Patreon)



Fiction

I’m happy to announce that my short story “Azrael” has been picked up by parABnormal Magazine at Hiraeth Publishing! Details are here on the blog

• Flashback: Silent (Patreon)
 

Patreon/Medium

• Review: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Patreon)
• Archival evidence (Patreon)
• Free to wear pink (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: Everybody walk the dinosaur (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: 100,000 of your closest friends (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: A roomful of readers (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: Hi Barbie! (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: The roar of unbridled avarice (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: Denouement (Patreon)
• The whispering woods (Medium)

Note: Recently I indexed all the entries I’ve posted on the Patreon going back to its launch in 2018. I wanted new Patrons to be able to easily find the work that they’ve missed, and hopefully seeing how much work is on the Patreon might encourage some good folks to subscribe. (Hint, hint.) Seriously, subscriptions start at $1 a month, and I truly believe some of the best work I’ve ever done is on the Patreon. Check out the index here.


Photography

It’s all on the Patreon! So many awesome costumes at Dragoncon. You should really subscribe