Friday, July 13, 2018

Looking At The Closing Of The Bob Mercer Bureau Like A Debate Judge

Sometimes I get the feeling that debaters, debate coaches, former debaters, and former debate coaches are the only people who read this blog. On the possibility that normal human beings  drop by from time to time, I need to clarify a few terms.

Debate judges have preferences, but because it's debate, they use a fancy word like paradigms. On the one end of the spectrum is the games player who believes the resolution does not matter. Debate can be about the act of debating or the importance of Dr. Seuss or involve interpretative dance rather than a spoken case. (To the best of my knowledge, no high school judge in South Dakota fits this category.) On the other end of the spectrum is the lay judge who sees one or two rounds a season and is nearly impossible to prepare for. Needless to say, if a games player and a lay judge serve on a three judge panel, their decisions will nearly always differ.

Online reflections on the Aberdeen American News decision to close its Pierre bureau remind me of ballots I have read by judges who were on opposite ends of the judging spectrum as they adjudicated the same round. 

From Charlie Hoffman commenting at Dakota War College,
40 some years ago I remember my father saying that the problem in America is too many people just don’t give a damn. Today he would obviously be saying that the problem in America is too many people just don’t give a damn about the truth, they make their own up. Bob Mercer very well could be South Dakota’s last bastion of unbiased journalism based purely on facts.
Then there's this Larry Kurz tweet
I'll try to be a tabula rasa judge on this one.  South Dakota government is a musty old boys club that needs to be exposed to a lot more reporting. As he reports on  state government on a full time basis, Mercer does yeoman work. Many of the committee and commission meetings he covered sound more painful than a novice debate round where all of the debaters read arguments they don't understand because varsity debaters have provided the novice the arguments two minutes before the round began.

Unless we make frequent trips to Pierre, Mercer's coverage is the only way many of us learn about the legislative and administrative sausage making. Mercer's opinion columns and blog posts reflect his Republican preferences, but if newspapers don't distinguish between news and opinion as they publish those columns that's on the publisher not the writer.

4 comments:

larry kurtz said...

I confronted Mercer on his lack to ever file a story about clergy sex crimes in South Dakota and he blocked me on twitter for it. So much for unbiased reporting. As my late father would have said, "Bob is dead from the ass both ways."

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
larry kurtz said...

I would say it is not the question why cowards cower rather that cowards have histories of being vile and are not only banned in the vast majority of social media outlets in South Dakota but in a growing number of states too.

Kal Lis said...

Before anyone gets too feisty here, I accidentally removed the Anonymous comment that points out that Larry has a history of being banned by other blogs. I was looking at stats on the phone and not paying attention. I apologize

I'm leaving Larry's second comment because it matches the format and wording of the one he was responding to.

Once again, I apologize for having big thumbs and not seeing an undo in Blogger's outdated settings