For a couple of weeks, I’ve been exploring the question, “Where will news come from when the newspapers go away?” I’ve had this conversation with several people and the question keeps turning up new views. It’s relevant to citizen journalists because the relationship between the internet and the news is going to keep changing.
One source of news in the absence of newspapers would be an expansion of press releases. PR has steadily been replacing reporting since the first press agents invented themselves over a hundred years ago. Nowadays, much of the “news” is just recycled handouts.
I got an example last week. The York Neighborhood Association sends out email alerts on topics of potential interest to Yorkers. Most of these are handouts from local or state government. The Bellingham Police sent out a release bragging that they’d caught a prolific tagger. However, the one piece of information that would make it interesting was missing: nothing in the release identified the tags or the locations. It left Yorkers hanging as to whether or not the tagger who’s been plaguing us was the one they caught.
So I checked the Herald, our amazing shrinking newspaper. They had an article on it. It was the press release and one little tid-bit: the police had served a search warrant back in January that led to the arrest warrant. But nothing to answer what or where. Then I contacted a knowledgeable source who was able to confirm that it wasn’t the York tagger. So as far as everybody on the neighborhood list was concerned, the news was the BPD were proud of themselves.
This little story about the tagger highlights some points of interest to citizen journalists. First of all, news is valued by its usefulness. The press releases are useful to the people putting them out, and less so to the people reading them. Secondly, news is dependent on sources. Good reporters have a beat that they work and sources who can provide the details and background. That’s what can turn a handout into real news.
What about the news that’s not useful? I’m of the mind that it’s just entertainment. You aren’t going to use it to decide anything. It engages your attention and fills some time, but it’s not really much use other than that.
Opinion is sort of news and sort of entertainment. It’s mostly somebody having made a decision about some news and sharing that decision with readers. Maybe you agree with the opinion and maybe you don’t. But it’s sort of half way between news and entertainment.
Here’s some news you can use: I’ve found two new places to get a good burger.
The Lunch Bucket
The Lunch Bucket is a Hawaiian/American home-cooking diner at 32nd and Fielding Ave, right at the foot of Ferry Ave and behind the Sehome Regal Cinemas. The prices are low and the food is tasty and filling. They are getting very favorable reviews on Urban Spoon, Trip Advisor, Yelp and the Bellingham Business Journal.
See four links below to reviews of The Lunch Bucket.
They have a lunch/dinner menu of plates, burgers, fries, sandwiches and burritos. They also have a $5 menu that includes a can of soda with the meal. It’s the best deal in Bellingham. The Hawaiian Corner has Kalua Pig, Beef Curry, Adobo, Lau Lau, Spam and Eggs with rice and other Hawaiian favorites. My friend who spends a lot of time in Hawaii tells me that it’s just like you’d find in a lot of little mom & pop diners in the islands.
I’ve had the Hawaiian Burger, a 5 oz. patty cooked in a reduced sweet soy and pineapple sauce. It is absolutely the best $3.50 burger in town. The Crazy Burger is a cheese burger with so much cheese on it that the cheese spreads out on the griddle to surround the burger with a halo of crispy cheesy goodness. I’m looking forward to eating my way through the entire menu.
Marlins’ Cafe inside Nelson’s Market
The place I can’t avoid is Marlins’ Cafe at Nelson’s Market. Nelson’s motto is “A stationary float in the parade of life.” Nestled in the bosom of the York neighborhood at the corner of Humboldt and Potter, Nelson’s Market is inconveniently close to my house. All I have to do is walk across the street and I’m dining out.
Marlins’ Cafe has been serving breakfast for several years. It’s packed on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This spring, Marlin’s began serving beer on tap and expanded to serving an evening menu Wednesday through Sunday from 4:30pm til 9:00pm—10:00p.m. on weekends. There are 5 beers on tap at $4.00 a pint. The selection changes frequently.
The quirky schedule dovetails with Marlins’ apparent policy of anti-publicity. For instance, what’s up with the mysteriously placed apostrophe in Marlins’? Not just the schedule, but the very existence of Marlins’ hamburger emporium is treated as a closely guarded secret. The tip-off is the presence of a sandwich board on the sidewalk advertising hamburgers, sandwiches and broasted chicken. If the sign is missing, the cafe is shut. I searched the web for some notice of the new doings at Marlins, but the only clue was a few short comments on their facebook page.
See link below to Nelson's Market on Facebook
The burgers are made with local grass-fed “Whatcom Natural Beef” served on a Pretzel Bun from Ralf’s Bakery at the Depot Market. The beef is bursting with bodaciously beefy flavor. If you’ve never had one, a Pretzel Bun is a firm roll with a shiny crust slashed with a cross. The firm texture makes maneuvering a heavily loaded burger to your mouth a little tricky, since the innards may choose to slide around a little under the pressure of your mandibular motion.
The burgers come with french fries, potato salad or a side salad. These are up-scale burgers with your choice of add-ons like Hempler’s bacon, cheese, avocado, mushrooms, jalapenos, feta, bleu cheese, pineapple & ham or shrimp. The Classic Burger starts at $7.50, the Cheeseburger is $8.50 and the add-ons go for $1.00 to $2.00. The menu is slowly expanding. This week they added French Dip, Reuben and Grilled Cheese sandwiches. The highlight of the menu are the hand-cut french fries, $3.50. They are fresh cut and deep fried to a golden brown. These are the best fries in town. But it’s a secret, so don’t tell anybody.
Hopped out of balance
What’s up with all these over-hopped beers? India Pale Ales have proliferated in the last year, but it’s darned hard to find a good one. The same goes for a lot of the other new highly hopped beers. What happened to balance?
Yakima is the center of over half the world’s hop production. We’re rolling in hops. Hop prices have come off a previous high and are now plentiful. So why are all these micro breweries pumping out vast quantities of beer that are so bitter you can’t get a hint of maltiness?
Beer only has four ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast. That’s it. Put other stuff in there and you have to add at least one more word to the label. The mark of a good beer is the sweetness of the malt is balanced by the bitterness of the hops. On top of that, there may be more or less aroma, brought about by dry hopping. But the basic, rock bottom foundation of good beer is you can taste the malt and the hops at the same time. One doesn’t overpower the other. They are supposed to work together. It certainly shouldn’t shrivel your face into a pucker of bitterness.
It’s getting so I’m leery of ordering a brand that I haven’t tried before. I’ve had good India Pale Ales, heck, I’ve had Grant’s India Pale Ale in Bert Grant’s brewpub in Yakima. That was the very first brewpub in Washington. I just haven’t had any good ones lately. Somebody tell these brewers to get the balance back in their beers. Egads!