Archive for November, 2006

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By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

Since Veterans Day was this past weekend, I was thinking — as I always do on that day — of the World War II veterans that I worked with on my Master’s thesis project. For the project, I interviewed several local vets, as well as some of the folks in residence at the veterans home in Grand Rapids.I also thought about one veteran in particular who just passed away a few weeks ago; and my grandfather, a World War II army vet and German prisoner of war, who passed away 10 years ago.It is estimated that over 1000 World War II vets die each day in this country. That’s why it is so important for us to record their oral histories. For my documentary project, I interviewed about a dozen vets and wives of vets from the second world war, videotaped them, and put them into a finished piece. At least one of those people I interviewed has since passed, that I know of — I’m sure there are some who are now gone whom I have lost touch with. Just think of the information that would have been lost had I not gotten these interviews on tape. And think of what has been lost of those who were never interviewed.I often wish that I would have gotten my grandfather on videotape to get his impressions on the war, the depression, our family history, and his life in general. Unfortunately, I never got the chance, save for one cassette tape from a high school project. There are so many questions that come up from time to time in my family that we will never have answers for, and so much we could have learned if we would have sat down and taken the time to ask these questions.So, I urge everyone who has a parent, grandparent, friend or other relative of “The Greatest Generation,” as it is sometimes called — to sit down with them and ask them about their lives. Get their stories on audio or video tape. These personal histories can be treasured by future generations, and will help to preserve a part of your families own history, and the history of our nation, for that matter.The interviews don’t have to be done with expensive equipment, lighting, or sound. They don’t have to be edited together into a finished program. All you need is a camera or tape recorder, and a list of questions.I also urge people to contribute their recorded pieces to an oral history project, like the Veterans History Project, sponsored by the Library of Congress. These projects collect and catalogue oral histories from people of all walks of life, and preserve them as a record for research and education.There are also oral history projects for Native Americans, African Americans, Vietnam War veterans, and many other different categories.Because of the availability of modern technology such as home video cameras, and their widespread use, we have the opportunity to save a special piece of each of our families for future generations. So, if you have ever thought of sitting down with a relative and making a recording, don’t put it off any longer, do it today. You’ll be glad you did. If you participate in an oral history project, you might even be contributing a piece of history that was previously unknown — it’s already happened since these projects have been set up. And most importantly of all; your children — and your children’s children — will thank you for it.

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By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor
Representative Pete Hoekstra has an ad on the radio right now admonishing the “Liberal National Media.” After hearing about how they are ruining our way of life, I’m glad that I belong to the “non-biased local media.”Whew!I’m a little confused, though, as I tried to figure out just who he was talking about. Because the last time I checked, the most listened to radio personality is Rush Limbaugh, (a neo-conservative). As of 2005, Arbitron ratings indicate the show’s audience to average 13.5 million listeners weekly, making it the largest radio talk show audience in the United States. Also, relative to all other television and radio programs in the United States, Limbaugh’s audience has the highest percentage (56%) of hard news consumers. So, at least the liberal national media doesn’t have a hold of good old radio. Whew!On television, we’ve got the conservative, “no-spin-zone” Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly is best known as the host of the cable news program The O’Reilly Factor, broadcast on the Fox News Channel. Between 2003 and the first half of 2006, it ranked #1 among cable news programs, averaging 2.2 million viewers daily in 2005. Well, at least on cable, the liberal national media isn’t in control. Whew!Many Republicans have shown concern in the last year or so that public broadcasting is liberal. I worked at a public broadcasting television station for a few years, and never saw the political agenda of Sesame Street, Barney, Elmo and The Antiques Roadshow. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough, though.Thank goodness that Patricia Harrison, the one time co-chair of the Republican National Committee, was named president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in June, and new non-liberal programming was added, such as “Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered” and “Journal Editorial Report,” — which features the conservative Wall Street Journal’s editorial board — in order to get more conservative voices on air.Thanks to the republicans, I guess the liberal national media has been kicked out of public broadcasting. Whew!Which brings us to the commercial broadcasting networks, in which the big three have national news programs which are, shall we say, sucking wind, in the ratings department. Why? Because the traditional format of network news shows is to present the most un-biased, objective news reporting possible. BORING!The American public wants to hear opinions. They want Anderson Cooper, Bill O’Reilly, and the other “news personalities” to give them the “real inside scoop”. So viewers have flocked to cable news to be entertained and informed at the same time. Network news has shied away from controversy for years and quashed anyone with an opinion on the evening news; and the news tidbits we see in the morning on the networks are surrounded by so much fun and games that its hard to take the five minute news report even remotely seriously.So, network news is in too much of a tailspin to tow the line for the liberal media agenda. Whew!Then it must be the print media who are spearheading the liberal agenda. Here’s what the website My Direct Democracy found in their research about liberal bias in the newspaper industry:Since 1940 when industry trade magazine Editor & Publisher began tracking newspapers during presidential elections, only two Democratic candidates — Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Bill Clinton in 1992 — have ever won more endorsements than their Republican opponent. That’s because newspaper publishers, who usually sign off on endorsements, tend to vote Republican (like lots of senior corporate executives), which means GOP candidates pick up more endorsements. A lot more. In 1984, President Reagan landed roughly twice as many endorsements as Democrat Walter Mondale in the president’s easy reelection win. And in 1996, despite his weak showing at the polls, 179 daily newspapers endorsed Republican Bob Dole, which easily outpaced the Democrats’ tally by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.So, at least the liberal national media hasn’t gotten a hold of the newspaper industry. Whew!What does that leave us with, then? Where is the liberal national media? In the minority, not the majority. Right where the conservatives want it.Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net