Thursday, April 19, 2007

LEPOCO Tries, And Fails, To Be Relevant

LEPOCO, our local peace advocates, use 60s tactics for 21st century problems. Instead of taking advantage of the blogosphere, they engage in Quixotic publicity stunts that just marginalize them and make us more divided. These include peace demonstrations next to an armory and a refusal to leave a Congressman's office after hours, when he wasn't even there. Their latest plunge into irrelevance? The Lehigh Valley Independent Press.

You've got to admit, the name sounds good. And the subheading is even better - "News and opinion from the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania." There's definitely room for something like that, staffed by citizen journalists. Maybe I could find an article about the Lehigh Valley's homeless problem or how recent LANTA rate increases will hurt the disabled. Most LEPOCO members are brilliant and well-spoken, so we could look forward to articles promoting light rail or condemning the way undocumented workers are scapegoated in this area.

But guess what? There's practically nothing about the Lehigh Valley in The Lehigh Valley Independent!

This goofy production is mainly a chronicle of neverending trips to El Salvador. Last time I checked, that was outside the Lehigh Valley. And the reporters who make up this strange online publication look for their Lehigh Valley news in places like FOR Colombia Program and Nicaragua Network. Articles are undated, and there's no way to publish a comment, something local newspapers and blogs allow.

Its "news gallery" is an essay about Catholic priests murdered in El Salvador in 1977 and 1980.

Earth to LEPOCO! That's not news! It's history, and it's not Lehigh Valley history. It's not even American history.

Although it asserts independence, it sure has a strange way of showing it. A section, "Letters That Should be Read," is an unsorted catalogue of letters already published in the mainstream media. I guess that gives these letters more credibility, but it doesn't do much for LEPOCO'S online journal.

Sadly, The Lehigh Valley Independent News is neither independent nor focused on the Lehigh Valley. It's just another vanity project without any real commitment or attempt at citizen journalism.

About the only thing local about this "news" source is an entire section dedicated to slamming local Congressman Charlie Dent. Anti-Dent articles, penned by Joe DeRaymond, contain this pious disclosure. "It should be noted that Charles Dent did have me arrested (with 8 others) for reading the names of the Iraqi and US dead in his office, after closing hours."

That's not exactly true. DeRaymond was arrested, but not by Dent. Nor did Dent have him arrested. Nor was DeRaymond arrested for reading the names of Iraqi war dead. He was arrested because he was a trespasser. And he was convicted, too, something he conveniently fails to mention. Maybe he forgot. Joe's group, which had already met twice with Dent, barged into the office one day when Dent was absent, and demanded to see him. Joe's arrest was the decision of the Bethlehem police department.

Other than its name, this latest attempt at relevance by LEPOCO is an abysmal failure. LEPOCO has so many brilliant members that it could easily maintain a daily blog that focuses on local, state, national, international and interplanetary matters. It's got the interplanetary aspect down. Now when the hell is LEPOCO going to start thinking and acting locally?. Until it does, it should call its online chronicle "Tilting at Windmills."

7 comments:

Billy Givens said...

Charlie Dent was in the Amen corner of Lafayette College's Colton Chapel, cheering Rick Santorum, standing at the podium and hawking Resident George W. Bush's Social Security privatization scam.

And when Lafayette's Security Chief Hugh Harris and his lieutenant were hustling young Randy Kim out of the chapel for his comments hurled at the Senator - and I leapt from my aisle seat as the trio passed me on their way to the exit, grabbed Kim around the waist and tried to pull him back into the Chapel - I heard Dent, in the company of Marta Boulous Gabriel, mutter, "They should arrest them."

Dent is also sponsoring a bill to deny the Delaware Native Americans of Oklahoma the 315 acres in Forks Township that William Penn's rascally son Thomas stole from their ancestors through the infamous Walking Purchase fraud of 1737.

Dent, as a member of the House's Homeland Security Committee, is the tool of HSD Secretary Michael Chertoff.

RadCenter said...

Exactly what does the preceding comment have to do with Lepoco?

RadCenter said...

Bernie, I agree with you about Lepoco being trapped in the '60s (witness the fact that they used the word press in the name of their online newsletter). I also agree that they ignore local issues (casino? what casino?). I brought this up to them on several occasions when I used to be a member and was called during their phonathon. Eventually, I just gave up and accepted them for what they are: a social club whose members like to paint themselves as morally superior to others—to quote Macbeth, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Some Lepoco members are active in other local groups, which are accomplishing things. These groups—the Alliance for Sustainable Communities, the Small Business Network, the Coalition for Alternative Transportation—deserve our support.

If I were rich, I'd start a real independent newspaper—the printed kind—targeted at everyone, not just the "right" demographic to support big-name advertisers. I believe blogs have their place, but poor folks don't have Internet access, except at public libraries. Plus, I'm kind of old-fashioned in that I like my news fact-checked and grammatically correct (not that your blog isn't). Also, having to wade through armchair politicians' random and irrelevant responses is a waste of precious time.

Keep up the good work (even though I disagree heartily with you on illegal immigration)!

Anonymous said...

I see Billy Givens forgot what planet he is inhabiting again. (Billy, don't forget to take your meds!)

LEPOCO's web site is just as lost as Billy Givens.

Bernie O'Hare said...

RadCenter,

I'd love to see another paper, but start up costs are prohibitive. Blogs have plenty of defects - they are Internet dependent and are usually the work of just one person. I don't think you can view them as anything much more than a complement to the mainstream.

Now, I do try to get my facts right and provide plenty of links. And I scour posts for spelling and grammar. But let's face it. It's just one person's work. I often wish someone could edit me, if only for spelling.

But what gives us an edge is we are independent, and are often way out in front of the mainstream bc we're not hamstrung by all the impediments faced by real reporters and editors. I can just let something fly. It's very spontaneous. On a local level, we can cover some issues than the papers don't because their audience is larger and they have to appeal to that larger group.

But I pretty much agree with everything you said.

R Mosh-fellow said...

Well, we who believe in "rights" for the 'least of these," non-human animals, have tried everything anyone can imagine.
All for naught. Snotty Lepoco should not be mocked for their tactics. The mocker don't look good.

Personally, am opposed to Iraqnam and believe heads should roll (of, course, they won't).

The elitism of Lepoco stands as the polar opposite to the Stasi-ism
of the Bill 'Twinklecake' Bennett types but what are ya' gonna do?

it's the 'ole like it or lump it' routine.
Don't Bogart that suicide sausce..

LVDem said...

to borrow a line from Cartman on South Park: "God damn hippies!"