Thoughts at large

Today I feel like a slave to the grind. I’m actually writing this on May 26, but through the magic of WordPress those of you who care to come by on a summer-like day will see this on Sunday, May 27.

While I like summer in general, I also know it’s the silly season insofar as politics goes and my readership takes a dive. Too many people make other plans and tune out for a day or a week – hell, if I were in Ocean City or down on the OBX to relax I wouldn’t be reading the internet either. (Okay, maybe I would check on it a couple times a day, but most sane people who aren’t political junkies would not. I understand.)

So I know what I’m up against. Yet this is the time of year where a lot of camels’ noses lodge themselves firmly under the tent, and in the era of Friday afternoon document dumps from on high the time when those smelly tourists are most ripe in Washington is also the time when the government also stinks to high heaven.

I’m not saying to not enjoy summer by any means, heck, it’s my favorite time of year. We may grumble about the Pennsyltuckians who don’t know how to drive but I guarantee those local areas which rely on tourism aren’t shy about taking their money. I can play tourist once in awhile, too, because even after seven-plus years of living here I still marvel at the vibe I get when I’m relaxing in Ocean City at the height of the season and on occasion I don’t mind bumming around to see what I still haven’t seen in this area. It’s fun, albeit too rare in my case – remember, I still check the internet a couple times a day. I just hope the season turns out to be a halfway decent one; luckily it appears gas prices are giving us a modest break by backing off the $4 a gallon mark for now. (Still, they are way too high for my liking.)

But even if people were 10 or 20 percent more vigilant than they would normally be, it could make a difference. Obviously with this being a Presidential election year there’s a little more interest, but since we already know who the nominees will be the horse race aspect is all we have left. Already pollsters have shown Barack Obama and Mitt Romney alternating in the lead. The incumbent in particular has made a number of cynical ploys designed solely for political reasons.

And it very well could be people are more in tune. But it’s a little bit discouraging to see that the top “hot topics” on Examiner from yesterday are as follows:

  • Memorial Day plans (ok, I can buy that since it IS the holiday weekend)
  • Etan Patz case updates (if it bleeds, it leads)
  • Lolo Jones: Virgin Olympian (why is that news? It’s commendable, but sadly I guess not sleeping around is such the topic of derision that she’s being held out as a freak of nature)
  • Siri gets banned (since I don’t have anything Apple, no biggie to me – IBM can do what it wants)
  • NBA playoffs coverage (obligatory sports distraction, although I admit I’m a huge baseball fan)
  • Facebook stock, lawsuit (because they bought the hype? It’s called caveat emptor and capitalism)
  • The world’s nicest prison (I’m not in it)
  • Pics: Miss USA pool party (sex sells, too)

Where are the real issues here? Is the Examiner audience that shallow?

But perhaps what irks me more as an Examiner writer is their choice of topics to promote.

Several times a week I get notices about “editorial initiatives” where writers who cover the topic have a chance to “be promoted as a Dynamic Lead on the News & Info superchannel page,” which in theory leads to more page views and more income. (Not really enough to live on by any means, but that’s the usual for internet writers.)

Anyway, here are the “editorial initiatives” I’ve received since rejoining Examiner earlier this month:

  • Super Heroes (playing on “The Avengers” theme)
  • Elections and social media
  • Best of Summer
  • This Weekend
  • Abused Women and Children’s Awareness Day
  • Gay Rights
  • Smoking (for World No Tobacco Day)
  • Political Ad Wars
  • Minorities are the majority
  • The Boomers’ sunset years
  • LGBT Pride Month (I guess that is June)
  • World Environment Day

I suppose there is something for everyone, but do you see somewhat of a liberal slant in the items they’re choosing to promote? Granted, I don’t have to do articles on these subjects but it comes at the risk of less exposure. I actually tagged my post on the same-sex marriage petition drive as a “gay rights” post but I doubt they’re promoting that one! I don’t do politically correct, so maybe they need a post on how hypocritical it is for the state to collect tobacco tax to promote anti-smoking efforts, renew my call to sunset Social Security because it’s a bankrupt Ponzi scheme, or ask when straight pride month will be; hell, I’m pretty proud to be straight and I would wager most of my readers are too. I guess we’re secure enough to not need a month to assuage our insecurities at not being what’s still considered normal.

If they’re going to give writers a pittance, we may as well have fun with it. Maybe if Ann Miller (who is the Baltimore County Republican Examiner and has been for a few years) is reading this, she can answer when Examiner did away with sponsorships because I don’t see them anymore. Basically, we are now at the mercy of how much they choose to expose our articles, I guess, although I do my best to promote them to my Facebook and Twitter followers.

But enough of that rant. Despite the low pay, I still enjoy sitting here. Once in awhile I have to vent, but in what other profession can a person sit on his deck and enjoy the warm weather while doing something at least slightly productive? It’s not all I do, but people have told me I do this well and I’m closing in on 3,000 posts so why not keep going?

Besides, once Social Security goes belly-up I’ll need something to support me in my old age and I’m determined to outlast, outwit, and outplay a lot of these Johnnies-come-lately to the game. But I may take tomorrow off, or you might get a late evening post – it depends on my mood and where I go. I do ask you, though, to take a little time to honor our fallen soldiers, sailors, and airmen, okay?

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