"Back to School for Failing Mall" was the headline for a short article in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. The story explained how Mountain State University purchased the mall from the receivership holding the mall, Jones Lang LaSalle.
Does Martinsburg get any good press? The last big national article was in the New York Times about Martinsburg High School and the Times certainly made it sound like Martinsburg High was failing. Those of us who live here know better, but it's still irksome.
The attitude of the big media is that if it's in West Virginia, it's failing.
Baseball is back, and the Washington Nationals are at .500.
What more can I ask for?
Well, it would be nice if Ryan Zimmerman's hammy heals up quickly and if Jesus Flores could make it back and be injury free. But for now, things are looking up for my favorite team. Great pitching by Livan Hernandez today to beat the Mets 5-2.
If you want in-depth Nats blogging, go here and here.
Hack writing is a journalist's survival mechanism. And there's nothing wrong with being a hack writer, sort of . ...
Many famous writers have done the hack writing gig, they take the salary and write editorials they don't believe. Example: Michael Foot, later the leader of the British Labour Party, did this early in his career. He wrote for Lord Beaverbrook's conservative papers for many years.
I wrote hack editorials for The Journal of Martinsburg for many years. Give me a topic, a point of view and I could dash out a decent editorial quickly. I much preferred my columns, where until the last year or so I could write as I pleased. The last publisher I worked with though, didn't believe in standing up for his writers and I had to constantly self-censor for the last year or two I was employed by what I hesitate to now call a newspaper.
But back to hack work ... other hack work includes writing pieces quickly just to earn a few bucks and make sure there's cereal, milk, potato chips and tuna around to munch on.
Like a lawyer, a good writer is a chameleon, taking on the job whether he likes his client, or topic, or not. In fact, it's usually weak writers who get all high and mighty about the subject of hack writing.
Yet, in the end, your writing is better if you believe what you write. Orwell wrote in the essay "Why I Write", that his writing didn't really reach its potential until he wrote for a cause, and wrote what he believed. In Orwell's case, that cause was democratic socialism. Whatever a writer's cause, I think Orwell, as usual, was correct. If you really plan to make a mark as a writer, you must move beyond the hack work and take chances.
You have to believe, and you have to write as you please.
How is it that despite the Mine Safety and Health Administration, all sorts of regulations, and after the Sago mine disaster, it could happen again?
Massey Energy has blood on its hands, the Big Branch Mine had a history of safety violations, as reported here. The attitude is the same as ever, miners are expendable. You know what should be done? Shut the mine down, permanently, shut Massey down. No matter how much Massey donates to local communities, it can never erase the blood shed by 25 miners.
Yet, it's not just Massey, but the politicians who support coal who are to blame. They fight for an industry because they say they value jobs. Apparently, these politicos don't value lives as much as jobs. Again and again, problems in the mines are ignored until it is too late.
Why? Because to really make the mines safe it would cost too much money for the coal companies and might cause job cuts. The politicians want to have it both ways, protect the industry, protect the miners.
And we shouldn't forget the friends of Massey and Don Blankenship, like John Yoder, who is running for a place on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Yoder accepted money from Blankenship during his last state senate campaign.
I've got no problem with this, the system is what it is-the two men do well for their constituents.
The two senators are even better at something else, being liberals in a fundamentally conservative state, protecting coal and other industries, being pro-gun and walking a host of other political tightropes this complex state offers to aspiring politicians.
I'd much rather they bring home the bacon than spend time expanding the scope of government.