by baldilocks

Because thieves need to be soiling their underwear.

From the UK’s Daily Mail:

A man in Washington created a genius device to catch pesky thieves who steal packages from front porches.

Jaireme Barrow, from Tacoma, Washington, was tired of people stealing his expensive Jeep parts and decided he ‘wanted to even the playing field.’

He created one of the earliest models trap – using 12-gauge shotgun blanks, fishing line, bricks, a wooden box-like, a small box, aluminum carrying vessel for the blanks, a small plate, and a cardbox box – and has filmed numerous wannabe thieves.

But the original model was not fool proof, and Barrow had to make a sign that said ‘Package armed,’
Nevertheless, numerous thieves can be seen being caught in the action, with one unfortunate soul even stumbling over himself trying to escape the popping.

From that, Barrow decided to launch The Blank Box, revising his old box method for something much simpler and sell-able.

For roughly $50-$70, people can get their own safety boxes and replace with extra blanks for an additional $2.99.

Thieves thwarted and only feelings, along with dignity – such as it is – get hurt. And, it’s technically not a trap, but a noise maker.

The contrast between the attitudes of the thieves and their would-be victim isn’t lost: one group tries to take that which does not belong to them. One individual, in trying to find a way to protect his property, creates a way to generate wealth.

And there’s some extra entertainment in the piece: proof that, even with double entendres, Brits and Americans speak a different language.

He even sells t-shirts that say ‘don’t touch my box.’

Not quite.

Barrow.

However, with recent revelations about the high and mighty, either slogan on a t-shirt is useful.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

Against the backdrop of sexual scandals and a maelstrom of mistakes in the media, director Steven Spielberg tries to bring a feel-good movie about journalism.

But The Post, which opens later this month, only adds to the milieu of fake news, presenting a storyline that plays fast and loose with the facts.

The Spielberg creation focuses on The Washington Post and its bid to publish The Pentagon Papers, officially titled United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense. Daniel Ellsberg, who worked on the study, leaked 43 volumes of the material to Neil Sheehan, who covered Vietnam for DaTimes.

DaTimes published the first stories and got hit with a lawsuit to stop publication by the Nixon Administration. But Spielberg doesn’t focus on DaTimes but DaPost.

DaPost got a copy of The Pentagon Papers a week later, along with more than a dozen other news organizations, and got hit with a lawsuit.

As The Poynter Institute notes in a review, “the Spielberg version is not close to being true as far as who deserves the real credit.”

Sheehan is one of those heroes—as is James Goodale, Da Times’ lawyer who argued that the press had a First Amendment right to publish information significant to the people’s understanding of their government’s policy. It’s hardly surprisingly that people at DaTimes aren’t happy about the movie that virtually excludes the news organization.

But it is Hollywood, so Spielberg reportedly dropped other projects after Donald Trump was elected. The movie apparently is intended to demonstrate that Richard Nixon, the press hater, has become reincarnated as Trump.

But that is fake news, too. Nixon didn’t want to challenge publication of The Pentagon Papers because they basically showed how John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had mucked up in Vietnam. But Henry Kissinger convinced Nixon to try to stop publication because failure to do so would convince other whistleblowers to leak secret documents.

One of the real stories, which isn’t addressed in the film, is how Ellsberg didn’t cut and run—unlike Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Ellsberg faced trial under The Espionage Act of 1917 for leaking the documents. The charges were dismissed after the infamous plumbers of the Nixon White House stole some of his medical records in an idiotic effort to bolster the government’s case.

Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case against DaTimes and DaPost, allowing them and others to print The Pentagon Papers.

The Post is yet another film about history that gets the facts wrong. That happened in All the President’s Men, which placed too much importance on DaPost’s work and too little on the judiciary and Congress. See my colleague’s assessment at  http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18215048

Unfortunately, many people only remember what they see at the movies, continuing the ignorance about what happens in reality.

Saturday in the wake of their massive error I teased CNN about the definition of “Newsworthy”. Yesterday I told the story of a special election that took place last week in Massachusetts, a State where Hillary won by 27 points and where they hold super-majorities in both houses, where a GOP State Senate Candidate flipped a seat that Democrats have held for over 25 years and suggested this story is a good example of what is Newsworthy.

However while I’ve done lots of shoe leather reporting over the last 8 years I’ve never actually worked for a newspaper or in a newsroom, nor have I exercised editorial control over anything larger than this blog.

So what would experienced reporters who have done journalism for a living all their lives and have to sell their product elsewhere, what would such folks lives think?

So I contacted several professional reporters current and former and asked them, without giving any details if he would consider a pro-life 2nd amendment republicans flipping a seat held by democrats for over 25 years in a special election in Massachusetts newsworthy.

As you might guess my first stop was Robert Stacy McCain. He has decades of experience as a reporter in papers large and small from his early twenties. He concluded it was for the following reasons:

“It points to the direction of politics as we head to the midterm elections and it is a possible indicator that the Trump momentum will continue despite the usual trend of off-year elections favoring the party out of power.”

He game an example from recent history as well.

“When democrats had a very good result in Virginia elections in November and this was made national news…the election of a transgender Democrat to a formerly republican held seat (also in Virginia) it made national news.”

And he cited the upcoming special election in Alabama as something that elevates the newsworthyness of the story further:

“If Trump really has momentum nationwide this result in a special election in Massachusetts might point to what we are looking at in Alabama.

That agenda has encouraged the Republican base. It’s about who can get out and mobilize their base. Republicans flip a Democrat seat in Massachusetts that tells you that despite what the pols might indicate and despite what the media might tell you to believe Trump remains popular with his base. So when you come to Tuesday, Democrats have tired to nationalize the Alabama senate race but it will be a base election.”

I also spoke to Don Surber author of Trump the Press and Trump the Establishment the same question. While currently retired he like Stacy McCain has decades of experience in the newsroom. To him the answer to the question would really depend on location.

“If I’m in Massachusetts it’s newsworthy because it has proximity, it has prominence, it’s timely, it’s odd because Gop doesn’t win there it has consequence because it will affect legislation.”

With the GOP only up to 7 senators that last one point is unlikely although you can’t get to 21 without getting to 7 first. So if he was in charge at the Boston Globe

“It has front page newsworthiness below the fold right hand corner.”

The Globe apparently disagreed with Mr. Surber. Tran’s victory didn’t make the front page but a search of their web site for Dean Tran did have a result in the Metro region.

linking to this seven sentence story by Jake Johnson from Wednesday including this quote from the Mass GOP Chair Kristen Hughes:

“The MassGOP is proud to congratulate [Tran] on his victory, which is a testament to the fact that voters stand with Governor Baker’s vision of fiscal discipline and common sense reform,” Kirsten Hughes, chairwoman of the MassGOP said in a statement announcing Tran’s victory.

Based on Don Surber’s stated opinion the Massachusetts paper of record definitely undersold a newsworthy story in the state, but when asked if it rises to the level of a national story , his opinion was very different.

“It’s not really national news I’d probably report it on some level If I ran it on AP I’d run it as a small 3 paragraph story.”

And he explained why: “I’d blog about it, for partisans it has impact. it’s not a national story because you have fifty state senates, most of them are republican. Space is a limited thing…you have to pick and choose your spots, AP would have it, same with Bloomberg news, three paragraphs”

A search of AP showed that while they didn’t have any original reporting they had picked up the Sentinel articles quoted in this piece

While a search of Bloomberg produced plenty for “Dean” results on colleges and “tran” on transgerder issues they had nothing on the special election in Massachusetts.

But that’s newspapers, Should we have seen something on Fox for example?

“Would I expect it to be on Brett Baier’s special report, no.”

And apparently Fox news agrees

How about CNN?

“If you are doing a political hour you might mention it but to the audience CNN is serving it’s not a national story.”

and apparently CNN agrees there as well

Of course part of what makes a story news is the attempt of people to push it. For example If I was the GOP chair national chair, particularly if I was the daughter of the former governor of Massachusetts, I’d have made it a point to mention this election to force coverage of a GOP win in a democrat stronghold and if I was the National GOP I’d at least have a mention of this result on my page

Here again Surber disagrees. “Democrats went with their minor victories because they had nothing else to brag about.” Surber cited the Tax bill, news reports on manufacturing jobs and President Trump move on Jersualem as stories of a much higher priority for the national party to push. But even if the national party decided to push the story, if it was up to him Surber wouldn’t bite saying bluntly: “It’s just not a national story.”

So maybe I shouldn’t be as hard on CNN as I was yesterday.

Closing note.  I had planned to have a third reporter for this post, unfortunately for me and him Dave Weigel became rather tied up this weekend.  Ironically he became more newsworthy than my story or this post.