Sunday, August 15, 2004

Conference Platform

Dakota Blog Alliance
August 14, 2004
Augustana College
Sioux Falls, South Dakota



WHEREAS, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader has become a powerful print media monopoly in Southeastern South Dakota;

WHEREAS, a pattern of chronic political bias has been uncovered at the Argus Leader;

WHEREAS, opinion columns of biased writers continue to run on the news page of the Argus Leader and are not properly designated as opinion;

WHEREAS, local pro-Democratic opinion columnists in the Argus Leader are not balanced with voices from the other side of the spectrum;

WHEREAS, many stories reported nationally which are critical of US Senator Tom Daschle are not reported by the Argus Leader;

WHEREAS, the Argus Leader has, in the past, run numerous and thoroughly researched stories scrutinizing Republican politicians;

WHEREAS, the Argus Leader’s political editor is an individual who views Republicans as “evil” and in the past has lauded and praised US Senator Tom Daschle;

WHEREAS, to date, the leadership of the Argus Leader has treated criticism with hostility and has not addressed the complaints of its critics;

WHEREAS, other newspapers which have recently suffered through difficult periods of outside scrutiny have hired public editors, or ombudsmen, to address public concerns;

WHEREAS, the Argus Leader does not have enough resources dedicated to covering the important US Senate race in South Dakota and therefore important stories and analyses are not completed;

WHEREAS, the Argus Leader is thought to be very profitable (46% margins) and could reasonably hire an ombudsman and more political reporters;

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Sioux Falls Argus Leader should adopt the following reforms:

1) hire a permanent ombudsman, similar to those hired by The New York Times and Washington Post, to review and assess public complaints about the Argus Leader;
2) move opinion writers to their proper place on the opinion page;
3) balance locally-based liberal opinion columnists with a local voice from the other side of the spectrum;
4) place an individual in charge of political reporting who has not called Republicans “evil,” treated Republicans with disdain, and praised US Senator Tom Daschle;
5) run the dozens of stories critical of US Senator Tom Daschle from the last few years that the Argus Leader ignored;
6) release the financial statements of the Argus Leader for the past 5 years so the public understands that hiring an ombudsman and additional staff is affordable;
7) disclose all future media acquisition plans to the general public.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Dakota Blog Alliance Conference

A New Populism?

Blogs, Politics, and the Media in South Dakota

A Conference Sponsored by the Dakota Blog Alliance
Augustana College. Madsen 201
August 14, 2004

Democracy is best practiced by citizens with access to multiple and varying sources of information. In recent years, as national debates about the perils of media concentration and media bias have become intense, the issue of access to reliable political information in South Dakota has become prominent. Some argue that independent citizens who have embraced internet blogging as a method to circumvent media concentration and bias constitute a new form of populism, an important strain of South Dakota political culture. This conference seeks to address some of those issues. Everyone is welcome to attend and consider the issues presented.

9:30 AM: Welcome and Introduction

9:35 AM: “Are Blogs a New Form of Populism?” Jon Lauck

10:00 AM: “The Press's Role in the Public Sphere” John Miller

10:30 AM: “South Dakota Media: An Insider’s View” Greg Belfrage

11:15 AM: “The Dakota Blogs and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader:
Beyond Conventional Wisdom” Jason Van Beek

12:15: Lunch Break

1:30 PM: KEYNOTE: “The Rise of Blogs and Their Impact on the Media and Politics”

John Hinderaker

2:30 PM: “Where Can I Buy Ink By The Barrel?” Kristi Golden

3:15 PM: “Why I Blog” Steve Sibson

3:45 PM: “The Possibilities and Limitations of Independent Media” Peter Curtis

4:15 PM: Roundtable Discussion

5:30 PM: Adjourn to “Long Shots” Restaurant