The Scoop On The INNformer
Posted on 07.07.15 by Danny Glover @ 9:52 pm

A Washington Post video about a fledgling newspaper that is produced in a historic West Virginia hotel helped the reporter on that story win a national award last month.

Lee Powell traveled to The Wells Inn in Sistersville, W.Va., last year to get the scoop on The INNformer, dubbing it a “bi-monthly miracle” in an era when newspapers are dying. Powell included the companion 4 1/2-minute video report in a a package of three stories that he submitted for an Edward R. Murrow Award for online writing. Powell won the award on June 24.

I’ve had my eye on The INNformer for nearly two years now, ever since media writer Jim Romenesko started mocking hotel/newspaper owner Charles Winslow over his quirky job ads. The free paper is published just a few miles from my hometown, and my parents get it delivered to their house. I skim the back issues when we visit and now have a stack of them at our home hundreds of miles away. I also check the paper’s Facebook page periodically.

Reading the paper as an experienced editor and reporter, I haven’t been impressed with the journalistic quality of The INNformer. Grammatical errors and typos are common — one issue was printed without standard masthead details like the date — and the writing can be bland. The paper also has missed multiple opportunities to tell compelling stories.

I can think of two from my hometown, which is part of the paper’s circulation area. The first story had great feature potential. When former Paden City High School band director Ed Hood died last summer, alumni and current band members paid tribute to him at a memorial service. It was a great news hook for exploring Hood’s legacy in building “The Biggest Little Band in the Land.”

The second, a shooting that left a man dead in Paden City, happened a month ago. That is big news in a small town, but the coverage overall has been sparse and confusing. It’s the perfect opening for an upstart newspaper to fill the void. Yet The INNformer dedicated only four superficial paragraphs to the shooting several days after it happened.

All that said, as a small-town boy who grew up reading daily and weekly newspapers in the Ohio Valley, I still appreciate the work The INNformer is doing. It’s the part-time passion of a local businessman who cares enough about his community to produce a paper that is likely more hassle than it’s worth in terms of revenue.

The newspaper is quaint, like the hotel where it is created. And although the journalism is sometimes lacking, it is improving. It’s also welcomed by readers who aren’t as critical (for better or worse) as seasoned journalists like me. “It’s something everybody looks forward to,” one reader told the Post.

Given enough time, dedication and desire, Winslow could become the next Adam Kelly of West Virginia journalism. Kelly, the “country editor” who owned and ran the Tyler Star News, was a fixture in Sistersville, Paden City and other small towns when I was young. The big shoes he left behind haven’t been filled since.

Winslow could be the one to step into them. “I actually enjoy this,” he told Powell. “That sounds kind of stupid but — my paper, I handle it from start to finish.”


Filed under: Grammar and Media and News & Politics and People and Video and West Virginia
Comments: None

Homebodies In The Rust And Bible Belts
Posted on 03.09.15 by Danny Glover @ 6:48 pm

Last fall, The New York Times published some interesting data in an interactive map that shows how U.S. residents migrate by state. I just discovered it in my Facebook feed today and was most curious about the data from my home state of West Virginia.

According to the graphic, 70 percent of people who lived in the Mountain State in 2012 were born there, down from 81 percent in 1950 and 1900. I know that many more West Virginians, including myself, move away for work these days than used to be the case, but I was surprised to see that the state has an increasing percentage of people from other places.

Only a few states have a greater percentage of homebodies than West Virginia — Louisiana at 79 percent, Michigan at 77 percent, Ohio at 75 percent, Pennsylvania at 74 percent, Mississippi and Wisconsin at 72 percent each, and Iowa at 71 percent. Like West Virginia, Alabama is at 70 percent.

The takeaway is that people in the Rust Belt and Bible Belt love to stay close to home.


Filed under: Culture and Media and Religion and West Virginia
Comments: None

Hawkish On Squirrels
Posted on 01.17.15 by Danny Glover @ 10:07 am

Squirrels are rats with furry tails. Embrace that perspective and you won’t be like the West Virginia lawmaker who went into a rage when witnessing this scene, as reported by MetroNews:

It’s an awesome photo that captures a moment rarely seen in nature.


Filed under: Photography and West Virginia and Wildlife
Comments: 1 Comment

A Newspaper Box For A Newspaperman
Posted on 01.10.15 by Danny Glover @ 1:13 pm

Ever since our local newspaper closed two years ago, I’ve been obsessed with owning a newspaper vending machine or two. I’d like to turn one into a lamp and end table for our living room and use the second to store copies of historical editions of newspapers.

This week I finally found one newspaper box for a good deal on eBay. I’ll have to travel to Indiana at some point in the next few weeks to get it, but with gas as cheap as it is these days, now is a good time to invest in a 10-hour road trip.

The box I bought, which actually has a newspaper from 1989 in it, was once used to sell copies of the Post-Tribune, a regional publication in northwest Indiana. That was during the heyday of newspapers when single copies fat with advertising sold for a mere 25 cents.

My fascination with these soon-to-be relics of the newspaper era is driven by my own past in the news business. I landed my first job at The Tampa Tribune in 1987 and worked at the Dominion Post in Morgantown, W.Va., my last two years of college and for a few months afterward. I also did an internship at the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia and later did freelance work for two now-defunct newspapers in the Washington, D.C., era.

I’d really love to have a box from a publication where I worked or where I’ve lived, but any newspaper vending machine will whet my nostalgic appetite. Here’s hoping I find at least one more for my personal collection and perhaps more that I can turn into lamps and end tables for other news junkies.


Filed under: History and Media and West Virginia
Comments: None

Redneck Teeth For Sale
Posted on 11.22.14 by Danny Glover @ 6:48 pm

This ad from an 1852 issue of the Wheeling newspaper certainly doesn’t help refute a familiar redneck stereotype about West Virginians.

It’s my first find from the online archive of old newspapers available at the Library of Congress. I foresee many hours of historical reading in my future.


Filed under: History and Media and Redneck Humor and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

How To Lead Drunken College Students
Posted on 11.21.14 by Danny Glover @ 3:40 pm

West Virginia University has an excellent leader in E. Gordon Gee. He’s currently only on tap to fill the job for a couple of years, but he’s showing himself to be just the kind of administrator the university needs in a challenging time.

I was skeptical earlier this year of WVU’s decision to bring him back to a job he held early in his career. It seemed like WVU was looking backward instead of forward. Gee also has a history of running his mouth in ways that reflect poorly on him and the schools he has led.

But Gee has won me over. He still has the fun-loving character of a young man, as evidenced by his tweet when ESPN’s College Game Day visited Morgantown, W.Va., in October.

Yet he has exercised the kind of wisdom that only comes with age — and perhaps from having learned from his own mistakes. Gee understands that, in the words of King Solomon, there is “a time to tear apart and a time to sew together, a time to be silent and a time to speak.”

His statement today, issued after a WVU student’s recent death in an alcohol-related incident at a fraternity, is an excellent example. I like this message in particular:
(more…)


Filed under: Education and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: None

The Enlightened OECD vs. Redneck America
Posted on 10.07.14 by Danny Glover @ 8:54 pm

Hey, West Virginia is movin’ up in the world. The Mountain State bested not only Mississippi but also Alabama and Arkansas on a list of worst places to live based on factors such as health, education, jobs, technology and the environment.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development assigned the ratings. West Virginia scored a 52.2 out of 100 overall, putting it fourth from the bottom. Courtesy of a redneck-hating writer at The Washington Post, here’s the breakdown by category and on a 1-10 scale:

  • Politically engaged: 1.3 (50th)
  • Health: 1.8 (48th)
  • Safety: 4.5 (22nd place)
  • Job opportunities: 5.8 (45th)
  • High-speed Internet: 6 (43rd)
  • Clean environment: 6.6 (39th, tied with Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri)
  • Earn a living: 7.6 (43rd, tied with New Mexico and South Carolina)
  • Best educated: 8.6 (39th, tied with North Carolina and Tennessee)
  • Finding a home: 10 (one of 15 states with the top score)

That last one is the only bright spot for we hillbillies, but of course, we could have told you our state is a perfect 10 for places to call home. Now ask any of us whether we care what the elitist snobs at the OECD and the Post think of our state.

All of their brains put together are incapable of comprehending the intangible factors that make the redneck region of America, and especially West Virginia, the best place to live.


Filed under: Business and Culture and Hatin' On Rednecks and News & Politics and Technology and West Virginia
Comments: None

Redneck Marketing
Posted on 09.07.14 by Danny Glover @ 11:07 pm

This sales pitch is on display along Route 7 in West Virginia, a few miles from my home.

Who needs a billboard and fancy graphics when you can keep it simple on the side of a shed? I guess the lease attempt was a bust.


Filed under: Just For Laughs and Photography and Redneck Humor and West Virginia
Comments: None

Busted For Being A Good Driver
Posted on 08.05.14 by Danny Glover @ 8:09 pm

A few weeks ago, a policeman in my home town pulled me over for speeding. He graciously gave me a warning after telling me I had five points on my license and he didn’t want to ding me again.

I appreciated him giving me a break, but his contention that I had a bad driving record bothered me. I haven’t been ticketed in two decades, and the points I had on my license back then (some for speeding and the rest for causing an accident when I made a blind left turn) should have been expunged long ago.

I finally remembered to call the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles today to explore the disconnect between what I knew to be true and what the officer in the speed trap told me. The answer: I have five “safe points” on my license, which the Old Dominion issues each year you go without any traffic infractions. You can’t accumulate any more than five safe points, so in the state of Virginia’s eyes, I’m currently a perfect driver.

Someone needs to alert small-town cops in West Virginia who like to lurk just inside their town borders to bust unsuspecting drivers right after they cross into lower speed zones. I realize that each state handles licensing differently, but it disturbs me that the officer who stopped me couldn’t tell the difference between a driver with a good record and a bad one when he searched the database.

That kind of ignorance could easily fuel an abuse of authority in the wrong circumstances. I’m actually surprised the officer didn’t ticket me once he found out I had what he thought were bad points on my license because before he searched, I told him I hadn’t been ticketed in 20 years. Had I been in his shoes, I might have pegged me as a liar.

In this case, the points worked in my favor. The officer was in a generous mood and gave me a warning because he didn’t want to make life miserable for a presumably nice guy like me. If my record had been blank, he might have decided I could afford a few points — and a fine that would help bolster the department budget.

I suppose I should be grateful and just shut my virtual mouth. But I can’t help but wonder how a policeman in a bad mood or on a power trip could use bad information as an excuse for unjust punishment. Ignorance is a dangerous thing in law enforcement.


Filed under: Government and West Virginia
Comments: 16 Comments

Revenge Of The Phony Nerds
Posted on 07.30.14 by Danny Glover @ 8:38 pm

I remember the ancient time — back in my high school years — when nerds became the heroes of Hollywood plot lines. Movies and television shows celebrated the geeks who were scorned by the jocks, cheerleaders and other cool kids.

This helps explain why so many people embrace the “nerd” label these days. But as Charles Cooke explains at National Review Online, today’s nerd are pretenders. They have corrupted the word for political purposes, and they are the anti-type of Hollywood’s heroic dweebs, plagued by the very air of superiority the nerds in cinema resisted.

And who are the targets of their bigotry? Rednecks, of course. As Cooke says:

“Nerd” has become a calling a card — a means of conveying membership of one group and denying affiliation with another. The movement’s king, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has formal scientific training, certainly, as do the handful of others who have become celebrated by the crowd. He is a smart man who has done some important work in popularizing science. But this is not why he is useful. Instead, he is useful because he can be deployed as a cudgel and an emblem in political argument — pointed to as the sort of person who wouldn’t vote for Ted Cruz.

“Ignorance,” a popular Tyson meme holds, “is a virus. Once it starts spreading, it can only be cured by reason. For the sake of humanity, we must be that cure.” This rather unspecific message is a call to arms, aimed at those who believe wholeheartedly they are included in the elect “we.” Thus do we see unexceptional liberal-arts students lecturing other people about things they don’t understand themselves and terming the dissenters “flat-earthers.” Thus do we see people who have never in their lives read a single academic paper clinging to the mantle of “science” as might Albert Einstein. Thus do we see residents of Brooklyn who are unable to tell you at what temperature water boils rolling their eyes at Bjørn Lomborg or Roger Pielke Jr. because he disagrees with Harry Reid on climate change.

Really, the only thing in these people’s lives that is peer-reviewed are their opinions. Don’t have a Reddit account? Believe in God? Skeptical about the threat of overpopulation? Who are you, Sarah Palin?

I was fortunate to find a happy medium in my youth. I was a “band baby” for two of my four years at Paden City High School and a “football animal” for one. I was never quite talented enough to get much playing time in any of the official school sports I tried, but I also wasn’t among the last people picked when I joined my peers for backyard football, pickup basketball and the like. I ranked among the top 10 percent of my small class but also opted to study to be an electrician at a vocational school rather than take college prep classes my junior and senior years.

I was part nerd and part jock. I enjoyed intellectual pursuits yet also appreciated the folksy wisdom of those who were educated at the University of Hard Knocks. In other words, I was — and am — an enlightened redneck. And that’s the worst nightmare of the Neil deGrasse Tysons of the world.


Filed under: Culture and Education and Entertainment and Hatin' On Rednecks and Movies and People and Rednecks and Sports and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

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