Thursday, November 13, 2008

“Reporter’s Notebook”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a fictional dialogue between residents of our area. It is intended for entertainment purposes only. Those who experience stomach cramps or other discomfort from reading should discontinue use immediately and switch to ‘Barney Meets the Teletubbies.’ Thank you!

SETTING: A news-discussion program at the basement studio of cable channel 74, Geauga County, Ohio. Participants are arranged around a wide, circular table. They are journalists from the region who have been busy covering the 2008 election season.

MODERATOR: (A portly fellow, speaking with excitement) “Welcome everyone, to Reporter’s Notebook! I am your host, Rod Ice.”

AUDIENCE: Responds with generous applause.

MODERATOR: “Our guests today are Ezekiel Byler-Gregg, reporter for the revived Burton Daily Bugle; Carrie Hamglaze, columnist for The Geauga Mail-Recorder and Chardon City Councilperson; Kate Meffler, senior reporter for The Montville Messenger, and Lyle Krelvic, news editor for The Auburn Aerial.”

AUDIENCE: Cheers enthusiastically after the introductions are finished.

MODERATOR: “This has been an exciting week in Geauga, thanks to the national presidential campaign. I’d like to ask our panel – What was your lead story after Election Day?”

KATE MEFFLER: (adjusting her wire-rimmed glasses) “Rod, my newspaper went with rejected school levies as our primary feature, like those in Thompson and Newbury. With the banking crisis and economic woes, everyone has been squeezed. Our schools are no different. Many need immediate financial relief. But taxpayers are struggling to meet their own budgets. It is a difficult situation.”

EZEKIEL BYLER-GREGG (in a flannel shirt and denim overalls) “I went with the ‘Scarecrow Vandals’ story from Chardon. Actually, this has become an ongoing series of reports. Some of our readers wanted to boost the $1,000 reward offered by County Treasurer Christopher Hitchcock for information on those who destroyed city displays. Several more called our office to say they wanted the perpetrators to be publicly jailed on the Chardon Square.”

MODERATOR: (wiping his brow) “Hmmm. An interesting idea, to be sure. That would make the city webcam very popular with Internet visitors. How about you, Lyle?”

LYLE KRELVIC: (dressed in a dull, gray suit) “We opened with the incredible voter participation in Geauga County. Board of Elections Director Arch Kimbrew observed that there was a heavy turnout of citizens, without any problems. That puts our county in the forefront of American democracy.”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (wearing a red hat festooned with shamrock pins) “Is it my turn yet? You guys are a longwinded bunch!”

AUDIENCE: Bursts into laughter, then applause.

MODERATOR: (smiling) “Okay, Carrie. What was your first take on the week?”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (Adjusting her multicolored sweater) “I wrote a column about Dr. Bob Evans, and his unsuccessful campaign for County Coroner. His support of Tim’s House, a place for those affected by the pain of a loss to suicide, was particularly admirable. My readers found his ability to look beyond the office itself to be refreshing.”

MODERATOR: (Straightening his glasses) “Question Two – What does the national Democrat Party sweep mean for Geauga County?”

KATE MEFFLER: (Smoothing her flowered dress) “This is a moment of opportunity for local Democrats. They’ve traditionally been a minority here, but the party’s statewide and nationwide success will mean more awareness of their philosophy as a group. That diversity will be good for the county.”

EZEKIEL BYLER-GREGG: (Grunting) “I’ve noted a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional parties among my readership. Power players from both parties supported the multi-billion dollar bailout of our banking system. I think the anti-incumbent mood benefited Democrats, today. But generally, there is a feeling that we have been abandoned by our elected officials. I predict that Libertarian Party candidates will make significant gains across Geauga, in the coming years.”

MODERATOR: (Raising an eyebrow) “Your crystal ball is working overtime, Zeke. Thanks. What say you, Lyle?”

LYLE KRELVIC: (Folding his hands) “My conservative readers have been encouraged by the historic ‘house cleaning’ that has come to Washington. While painful for the GOP today, it means that the party will become leaner and stronger for tomorrow. The best thing that could have happened for them was to be drubbed in this election cycle.”

MODERATOR: (Looking surprised) “You speak with courage. We’ll see if it works out that way in the future…”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (Growing impatient) “Yoo hoo, Rod! There’s one more member of the panel here! Don’t forget about me!”

MODERATOR: (With embarrassment) “Sorry about that, Carrie. What is your opinion of the Democrat rise to supremacy?”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: “I believe that former Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives Tip O’ Neill was right when he said that ‘all politics is local.’ Reading too much into this sweep is foolish. Geauga County residents remain steadfast in their support of Midwestern values and traditions. My readers believe that the current mood was more a product of economic chaos than real philosophical change. People were worried, so they chose to try something different. If it doesn’t work out as intended, they’ll be just as quick to move in another direction.”

MODERATOR: (Nodding) “Well said, Carrie. The American electorate has always proven to be unruly in thought and even more rowdy in action.”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (Speaking proudly) “God bless America!”

MODERATOR: (With a sigh) “Finally, I’d like to ask our panel – What do you see as being most important for Geauga County, going forward?”

KATE MEFFLER: (Once again tweaking her spectacles) “My readers believe some kind of balance needs to be found on the issue of school funding. There are no easy choices regarding this issue. Citizens need relief from the burden of tax increases, while children require a quality education to prosper in society. Somehow, we need to find common ground. Our elected officials must jettison their partisan rhetoric and get to work on the problem.”

EZEKIEL BYLER-GREGG: (With a lengthy groan) “Bugle readers believe that the new powerline issue is most important. It will only make expansion of business and housing easier in the county. For that reason, it is unpopular here. They favor careful, slow development in Geauga, with respect for our heritage and natural beauty.”

LYLE KRELVIC: (Looking tired) “Readers of our paper think that Geauga County needs to join the 21st Century, in terms of outlook, procedures, and government. We have many wonderful resources here that should be used to benefit our residents.”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (Defiantly) “Hah! To benefit who? Be careful, Lyle. Too often, our elected officials make deals that drive profit for themselves. We need to be a watchdog for the people. Don’t advocate… investigate! Then let the citizens decide.”

MODERATOR: (Grinning) “A populist last word there, Carrie. Thank you! And thank all of you in our audience, for watching. This is Rod Ice, for ‘Reporter’s Notebook’ saying so long till next week! Good night!”

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