One of the few dark spots of Blogcon Charlotte, other than my simply horrible ten-pin bowling (note to self don’t bowl in suit pants if you are afraid of ripping them) was the absence of Robert Stacy McCain who taught me more about reporting in a few road trips than many a person who have built up college debt could get in a classroom.

My vision is a panel consisting of Stacy McCain, Michelle Malkin and Don Surber called From Reporter to Blogger dealing with tricks of the journalist trade from people who did newspaper reporting before they became known as national blogging.

The idea would be learning shoe leather techniques, things a good journalist needs to know and the do’s and don’ts that a regular newspaper reporter who regularly deals with (and perhaps clashes with) an editor should know.

It’s painfully apparent that young Elizabeth Flock late of the Washington Post might have benefited greatly from such a class, thus:

She did a roundup on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney allegedly using an old Ku Klux Klan slogan in his stump speech — a story that went viral online yet was untrue — and she didn’t call the Romney campaign for comment… nor did any editor make sure she did (emphasis mine).

Stacy’s reaction is one that one might expect from a person with decades in the reporting business:

This is what veteran journalists call “HOLY FREAKING CRAP!”

Then details the error:

Twenty-seven hours elapsed between the time Avarosis posted that and the time Flock “aggregated” it at the WaPo. Flock did not bother to contact the Romney campaign herself, but instead cited the HuffPo, which said a Romney spokeswoman “declined to comment on the matter.”

Now if Ms. Flock had studied under Stacy McCain she would have realized that a simple phone call to the Romney campaign would have paid off in two ways.

#1. She would have been able to break a story that they report was false or at least that the Ronmey people denied it. In a world when reporters have no objection reporting new info first and their stories going viral that is what was called a “Scoop”

2. If they didn’t get back to her, or if she got an answering machines, she could have written: “Repeated attempts to contact the Romney campaign were unsuccessful as of this writing.”

That would have covered her to some degree allowing her to say something like: “In the absence of a reply from the Romney camp we went with the Huff-po info”.

and sometimes you get lucky with these calls as I did with Weinergate

So since Stacy is giving reporting lessons I took the liberty of calling congressman Weiner’s office, the recorded messaged referred me to a press number to call after hours. I called the number and the gentleman named Joe who answered claimed I had the wrong number so I called back the congressman’s office to confirm the number in question (it was correct) and called the press number again. It now goes directly to voice mail. I left my name and home and cell numbers at both locations, and I’ll let you know if anything pans out, but I found that reaction…interesting.

This was rewarded by not only a link from Stacy, and a complementfrom Stacy but subsequently to a piece in the NY Post and an appearance on Fox 25.

Alas for Miss Flock she had an editor who as an advocate rather than an editor

she didn’t call the Romney campaign for comment, nor did any editor make sure she did (emphasis mine).

and said Panel with Stacy McCain did not exist at Blogcon Charlotte nor was she here to take advantage of it if if was.

So although it’s too late for Miss Flock, let’s hope next year the McCain, Malkin, Surber panel is at blogcon and with some luck perhaps a major paper might consider it a good investment to send a blogger down to learn trick of the trade for those who have known how for years.

One of the pleasures of traveling is visiting new churches in different cities. Saturday just after Blogcon ended I had the pleasure of attending St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Charlotte NC.

It is the oldest Catholic Church in the city

And it’s small size reminded me of St. Anthony’s before we added the El

I found the painting of Jesus behind the altar a little strange as I kept wondering what the guy in the upper left was doing in trousers

But the in-ground baptismal font was kinda cool

I was really surprised to meet a woman there who went to a Catholic High School two blocks away from where I lived and was in the same highschool class as one of the Acolytes at my parish.

finally here is a short video

to go along with the remaining pictures, enjoy!