It's my last full day in Iowa, so I won't likely be posting much over the next few days. Next stop on my national tour is North Carolina, where several of my blogroll regulars and I will be converging and conversing about theory, rhetoric, and writing. I'll do what I can to blog as many of the sessions as I've got energy for.
In local news, Iowa's Republican Senator, the lawn-mowing Chuck Grassley, has scraped the bottom of the endorsement barrel, by inviting Zell "With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans?" Miller to speak on his behalf. My guess is that he'll win, but that's a hunch based largely on the fact that I don't really know who's running against him. That, and the fact that there comes a point in the Senate races where a state has to vote to reject a senator's seniority and all the perks that come with it. It would take a lot more than ill-advised cameos to topple Grassley.
We got a visit from the evil pumpkin faeries over the weekend. Up and down the streets: smashed pumpkins, torn up political signs, and assorted random acts of childish vandalism. I don't think that it's a coincidence that the most popular costume, based on my intentionally unscientific survey, seemed to be "High School Kid Too Lazy to Actually Dress Up." There were lots of them. Even so, it only just beat out "Buzz-cut Nascar Dad Drinking Beer from a Can," but most of the kids in that costume were escorting much smaller angels, power rangers, and superheros from house to house.
I went over to the Quad City Times website, with the idea of snatching a photo from last night's Halloween parade, hopefully one of my dad in his borrowed Galaxie 500 convertible. Alas, though. Only two photos, and if you go look at them close up, you'll see that they're not only devoid of mayors, but they're actually pretty crappy. Using Flickr for the past few weeks has really made me think about how local news organizations might take advantage of social media. To post a photo there, I just send it in an email, and I can title and caption it. If I were working at the QC Times, I think I'd take some of my budget, open up a Flickr account, and give the entire community an opportunity to have their photos published. Pay a small fee to the people whose pictures you use, instead of keeping people on staff to do it. I'm sure that there are loads of good pictures of the parade out there, but I can't access them. Tools like Flickr could turn local news into community news very quickly, and really improve both coverage and access.
I have to admit that I was basically thinking about this last night as well, watching one of the local TV news stations doing disaster stories on Hawaii and Florida, stories whose only local relevance was the shock value of catching a channel surfer's attention. They spent more time on disasters thousands of miles away than they did on local events. I know that this is the norm, but it's a bad one. They led with a good story, one about attempts to defraud some voters by misleading them about their polling places, but after that, the deluge of "interest" stories that actually had nothing to do with the QC.
Yeah, I'm going on and on, when really I'd just intended to do a small, final Iowa entry. See you later this week. That is all.