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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gonzo Eruption at Madison Daily Leader

Chuck Clement must have gotten Fear and Loathing for Christmas!

So I come home from a happy day of post-Christmas consumerism (yes, even I bear the disease) and click open my all-too-thin e-copy of the Madison Daily Leader. Last night's only story: Chuck Clement's report on Madison Central's laptop problems with Gateway/MPC. He begins thus:

When Madison High School joined the state-sponsored laptop computer program in 2007, students were supposed to learn with the same type of technology that they would most likely use in the 21st Century workplace.

Well, the teens are also becoming familiar with another problem that adults sometimes need to overcome -- getting what you paid for [Chuck Clement, "MHS Works Through Laptop Problems with Gateway," Madison Daily Leader, 2008.12.29].

I stop cold at the first word of that second paragraph. Well?!? An empty, colloquial interjection in Madison's professional journalism?

And that ending phrase, getting what you paid for—it feels strangely... vivid, real, personal.

The strangeness continues: Clement—oh, but the buzzy directness of his language compels me to first-name familiarity—Chuck says two paragraphs later that Gateway "used to do business as one of the big boys in personal computers" but now "has hit the skids."

Are Jon and Marcia both on vacation?

I check the masthead to make sure I haven't stumbled into The Huffington Post or Dakota War College, but no, it's MDL, and the gonzo beat goes on:
  • Bankruptcy is supposed to give MPC "breathing room."
  • "...15 tablets have been on ice at an Iowa repair facility since last summer."
  • Two sentences start with but (perfectly acceptable, but recognized in some quarters as slightly informal and, by Microsoft Word, worthy of revision).
Is this the beginning of a gonzo revolution at the Madison Daily Leader? All I can wonder is, where is Chuck Clement and what have you done with his body?

Factual note: make sure you read that headline properly. Chuck's report reveals the prepositional phrase "with Gateway" hooks into the problems, not MHS's effort to work through them. District tech honcho Rob Honomichl says MHS can't get any warranty work done by Gateway MPC, which is breaking its contract right and left and leaving Madison (and other school districts) to pay for repairs out their own (our own) pockets.


  1. Looks to me that Chuck is writing like a blogger--breezy, conversational, real. Let's hope the MDL lets him keep it up.

    Todd Epp
    SD Watch http://www.southdakotawatch.net

  2. What would Bill Dunn have wrote?

  3. Bill Dunn! There's a name I haven't heard for a while! Where did he take his journalistic excellence?

  4. Life is just a blog, and all the people merely bloggers.

  5. The Daily Leader needs to do something. Their circullation has been dropping with the daily obits. Younger people don't buy newspapers, so why not start a blog of their own, or at least a "comments" section following each story like Keloland.com does. That might engage the younger public and help them become more informed citizens.


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