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The Media

Originally published in the Rutland Herald on July 5, 2012.

In their haste to report on last week’s Supreme Court ruling of the Affordable Care Act, CNN and Fox News Channel got one key part of the story wrong: all of it. This most recent failure underscores exactly what is wrong with the 24-hour cable news channels: Simply saying something — anything — is now enough. On Thursday, CNN and Fox performed the journalistic equivalent of a commenter writing “FIRST!” on an Internet message board.

This ratings-driven motivation comes at the expense of both organizations’ credibility and devalues the importance of factual journalism. Viewers would have been better served if the reporter had simply read the document or just held it up to the camera and slowly flipped the pages.

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Vyto Starinskas / Rutland Herald photo

In a city so notorious for its potholes, you’d think the road to the Board of Aldermen would be a little bumpier. Yet, again this year, the contest, while robust in number, was lacking in excitement.

Now, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That, for the most part, our local politics have been able to hold negativity at bay is something we should be proud of. Certainly, outside the rail, rancor and vitriol rear their heads on occasion — all towns have their naysayers — but the board, at least through the last several terms has managed to work together with respect if not always accord.

But come on; it’s campaign season. Where’s the fire? Where’s the feistiness?

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A version of this story appears in the Feb. 9, 2012, edition of the Rutland County Express.

Town Meeting Day is right around the corner, and in Rutland that means a slew of seats on the city’s Board of Aldermen are up for grabs.

This year, five two-year seats are in play, with a sixth one-year seat being sought uncontested by current Alderman Christopher Robinson. Of the other five, eight candidates have thrown their hats into the ring, and with only half of those candidates being current board members, we are guaranteed to see at least one new face inside the rail come March 6. (And by the end of the second paragraph, I believe I have used up every electoral euphemism known to man.)

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Cassandra Hotaling Hahn / photo

Originally published in the Rutland County Express on Oct. 27, 2011.

Much has been made of Gov. Shumlin’s recent dropping of the “RutVegas” bomb. While some people have expressed displeasure — even verging on offense — I am unfazed. (OK, maybe I’m a little fazed, but not for the reasons that typical Rutland cranks are).

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Originally published in the Rutland Herald and Rutland County Express on 9/15/11.

Over the years, I’ve often had doubts about my generation. Amid the unceasing intellectual debasement of our culture, which increasingly — almost gleefully — rejects substance for style, I feared that our potential would be squandered, lost in a malaise of self-absorbed apathy.

With the advent of social and technological phenomena like Facebook, Twitter, and the iPhone, I worried that we would only slip further into this solipsistic vacuum, egocasting ourselves into irrelevance as we became ever more acutely able to filter the information to which we are exposed.

Each generation has a defining moment — a time when a single event changes everything and requires us to act, to unite and change the world, one hopes, for the better. Our collective response will, for better or worse, leave an indelible mark on the wall of history. Our grandparents had Pearl Harbor. Our parents had JFK’s assassination.

Ten years ago on Sept. 11, my generation had its moment. As I sat outside in near silence with some friends on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that night, frightened and numb, I felt the time had come.

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Once upon a time, I was a big fan of Seven Days — it’s a fairly edgy, often entertaining pub that, when I first started reading it, was a refreshing change from Vermont’s typically staid and traditional news publications.

Over the years, it has grown in popularity and coverage. It became more confident in its ability to cover real news and moved beyond the soft, feature-y stories that tend to fill free weeklies. And to a large extent, they’ve done a good job. But lately, I’ve been loving my patience.

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