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March 20, 2014

City Blog: On Journalism and corrupting young minds

March 20, 2014 — Before today, I'd never delivered a lecture; hadn't been asked if journalism is worth it; hadn't created a PowerPoint in years; and wasn't called upon to encourage high school students.

So naturally, today is a good day to launch a blog.

I ramped myself up last night for Clinton Community College Career Day. Knocked out a beautiful presentation about working hard, career highlights, and the type of person suited for reporting. I was thankful I did this when I learned this morning that 500 high school juniors would be circulating CCC.

Was I dismayed only 20 of them wanted to be journalists? Not realistically. Not with doctors, lawyers and business leaders up the hall.

My industry has taken a bad rap. I've heard people associate “journalism” with places like TMZ, Fox News, The View. Those people wonder how a “news outlet” can accredit themselves by pushing Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus toward the top while nit-picking out-of-context political sound bites.

This leads my friends to the belief that journalism is dying or dead. They fail to understand that what they're observing isn't reporting. It's media. And there's a vast difference.

As I told those students today, my work isn't to push an agenda or to comment on Mike Tyson's face tattoo. The role of a journalist – my role – is to take in relavent, factual information, process this and reissue it to you, the reader, in formats you can digest. This gives you a sense of the community, the region, the country and the world. It helps inform your important life decisions.

Career Day at Clinton Community College.

So it's a good day to start this blog.

My aim with launching this web-first platform is to deliver extended coverage of an important segment for readers – the city government of Clinton, Iowa. This is where you'll find what your leaders said, how they said it through videos, behind the scenes looks at your city's mechanations, and information regarding how your city leaders voted after each meeting.

The opinions aren't for me but for you to form. And in the blog, I hope you can round out your decisions.

During the last Clinton City Council meeting, for example, here's how your council voted:

• Resolution accepting bid and awarding contract for 16th St. NW reconstruction for $488,873.93 — 6-1 (Gassman votes no)

• Resolution accepting bid and award contract for 2014 demolition of structures project to Larry “JOE” Detterman Excavating for $54,828.00 — 7-0

• Resolution accepting bid and awarding contract to Eastern Iowa Excavating & Concrete, LLC, for Mississippi River Trail Final Connection for $367,805.55 — 7-0

• Resolution approving submission of Public Transit Grant Applications — 7-0

• Adopt an ordinance providing general property taxes levied and collected each year in certain property located within the Lincolnway Industrial Railpark be received by and for the benefit of Iowa, Clinton, Clinton County and the Camanche School District — 7-0

• Resolution against apeal of the CFOG case — 6-1 (Gassman votes no)

• Resolution approving payment of attorney fees relating to the CFOG case — 5-2 (Gassman and O'Neill vote no)

• Resolution approving contract with McClure Engineering Company for engineering services for the 19th Avenue Northwest Lyons Tech Park extension — 6-1 (O'Neill votes no)

• Resolution setting a public hearing for the rezoning of 801 S. 3rd Street (Adcraft) — 5-1 (Gassman votes no, Allesee abstains)

It's important because this information helps you make valuable decisions on your life within these limits. Choices made in city government affect the layout of the town and where tax dollars are spent. Having a detailed look at this can be beneficial.

Are there places for fun? Of course. This platform aims also to engage readers through social media interaction. There is room for your feedback, your comments, your questions, and answers forthwith. And there are many opportunities for diverse news offerings.

But the goal aligns directly with my definition for journalism. We're here to keep you aware of your community through storytelling and fact finding.

Your reading of this blog post proves that journalism is alive and well. Just as I told high schoolers today: So long as there is a democracy, journalism will never die.

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