By David Gordon, Associate Editor
You’ve almost certainly noticed that the CVPost website hasn’t exactly been bursting with new material over the past six weeks or so.
This stems from several things, including the fact that I was out of the country from late June to mid-July – specifically, in Australia to attend the annual conference of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. (See related story at http://cvpost.org/gordon-moves-iswne-presidents-slot-melbourne-conference/.) The conference was a good one, and a post-conference tour enabled the participants to get to know “grass roots Australia” – both the people and the places – far better than the average tourist is able to do.
We were able to learn a great deal about some of the things on which Australia does a much better job than we do in the U.S. – health care and student debt, for example. More on those in a subsequent column.
One of the nice things about an online publication is the ability to edit it from anywhere there’s Internet access, but finding time for that in the midst of a busy conference schedule wasn’t always possible.
However, the trip is behind me and I expect to be editing and posting an increased number of stories as they become available. That, however, brings up a serious problem that we’ve faced since we started nearly 18 months ago.
Lack of Community Journalists
Specifically, we’ve been very disappointed at the lack of response from would-be community journalists and the resultant lack of fresh copy for the CVPost website.
We have a lengthy list of stories we’d like to do, but these won’t get reported and written unless at least a couple of people volunteer to become CVPost community journalists. This is not a position that requires outstanding writing skills (although they’re always helpful) – that’s what editors are for.
What is required are curiosity, attention to detail, interest in the society in which you live, a decent respect for deadlines and the willingness to ask the occasional hard questions whose answer provides the necessary context and meaning for a story.
If this set of requirements describes you, and you’d like to help us fill in some of the Chippewa Valley’s news and information gaps, please get in touch. We’ll be happy to have you work on one story a month, or one per day, or anything in between.
Sen. Vinehout’s Newsletter
There was one interesting development this month that I’d like to share with you. State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) devoted her early July newsletter to the fact that Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) ceased to exist on June 30, in line with action by the Legislature to abolish it and replace its functions with two separate boards – one to oversee elections and a second one to oversee ethics in state government.
Sen. Vinehout lamented the loss of the non-partisan GAB and quoted extensively from the CV Post’s interview last November with Judge Thomas Barland of Eau Claire. Barland, a retired Circuit Court judge who served on the board for seven years. called the actions taken by the Republican-controlled Legislature a “public lynching” of the GAB and minced no words in expressing his unhappiness about its impending demise. (See http://cvpost.org/?s=Barland.)
In addition to quoting a number of Barland’s comments, Sen. Vinehout’s newsletter also carried a link to the CVPost story, and the net result was that close to 50 people clicked through to check out the original interview. This is a good illustration of the role that we see for the CVPost – providing information that never makes it into the mainstream media here. . . in this case, information that retained its value nearly eight months after its original publication.
Dr. Mahmoud Taman
Finally, and belatedly, a comment on the connection between the CVPost and Dr. Mahmoud Taman, the patriarch of the local Muslim community whose death in May took from the Chippewa Valley a tireless advocate for an inclusive community.
He lived his belief in inclusivity by example in his 43 years here, among other ways by being a person who seemingly could talk with anyone and, equally important, a person who could listen to anyone. His interests were wide-ranging, and the description of him as a “citizen of the world” at his funeral service was right on target.
He was a leader – and a mentor – in the growth of the Islamic Society of Northern Wisconsin’s Center and Mosque in Altoona, which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its creation this year. He worked tirelessly to broaden the understanding of Islamic religion and culture, but his interests in creating and strengthening an interfaith community here were just as broad. To take just one example, he was a member of the local Trialogue interfaith study/discussion group for the past 23 years.
A physician and a psychiatrist trained in Egypt and Great Britain, he filled many roles in the Chippewa Valley medical community after moving here with his family in 1973. Those have been well documented by others: among other things, his advocacy for mental health care, the various medical facilities where he worked and led, and his volunteer efforts. . . particularly at the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic, where his final volunteer stint came barely over two weeks before his death.
The point here, though, is to acknowledge the role that Dr. Taman played in helping to get the Chippewa Valley Post off the ground in 2015. He had recently established the Mahmoud S. Taman Foundation whose purposes included the support of projects and grassroots efforts to promote interfaith and civic causes.
Shortly after our “soft launch” nearly 18 months ago, I went to see Dr. Taman about the possibility of a small but vital grant from the foundation. Typically, we talked about many other things in addition to the CVPost but he saw immediately the value of our efforts to contribute to a more fully informed public in the Chippewa Valley.
In due time, the grant came through and the CVPost was able to invest in some important promotional materials and activities that otherwise would have been impossible. That’s just one more example of the many different ways in which Dr. Taman’s concern for the community – the entire community – manifested itself.