(Shenandoah) – Just when you think it was safe to re-read kmaland.com on a Sunday morning…
Yes, after a brief respite during the holidays (and the need, frankly, to catch my breath after an incredibly busy December), the Sunday blog is returning to its regular lineup. This particular blog marks the start of the fifth year in the blogosphere for that modest grunt of news. When I first started this blog in January 2018, I didn’t realize how hard it is to come up with new topics and ideas every Sunday (and how easy it is to tag someone. with an unpopular catch). It is still a challenge that I am ready to take up.
This blog may not be available every Sunday, but rest assured, Yours truly will once again make a good faith effort to provide this special feature.
Okay, with that preamble out of the way, let’s go …
Department of Pathetic Predictions: Since it’s the last day of the NFL regular season (and what a long season it has been), I thought I’d deliver my own Super Bowl prediction. I pick the Green Bay Packers over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56 on February 13.
Why the Packers and the Bengals? Simply because they are the hottest teams at the moment. Green Bay have appeared to be the strongest team in the NFC all year. Aaron Rodgers took his quarterback skills to another level – no matter how well he knows how to squat COVID vaccines, and as far as game show hosts are concerned, he’s not Bill Cullen.
The Bengals, meanwhile, established themselves as the team to beat in the AFC with last week’s 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Former Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor is starting to assert himself as an NFL coach. And, at this point, Joe Burrow is perhaps the best quarterback in the league. It doesn’t hurt that Cincinnati has a talented wide receiver at Ja’Marr Chase. Forget the Bengals’ 10-6 record, they are setting it up at the right time.
Having made my prediction, come see me again in a few weeks. There is a reason why I call my predictions “pathetic”.
Unpopular Removals Department: Speaking of pathos, there is something going on in the Iowa Legislature that is really close to my heart. And, that should bother all Iowans, whether or not they work in the media.
Published reports indicate that Republican leaders in the Iowa Senate have moved to relocate Statehouse reporters from their traditional location along the front wall of the Senate Chamber to a location in the public gallery on the upper level. An article in the Des Moines Register quotes an email from a spokesperson for the Republican Senate.
Granted, that decision was originally made in both Iowa House and the Senate due to COVID security measures. But, the Chamber again allows reporters to work from desks located in a location on the Chamber floor.
Organizations like the Iowa Capitol Press Association, the Iowa Broadcast News Association, and the Iowa Freedom of Information Council have issued statements criticizing the decision. And, as a former president and board member of IBNA – and the 2011 recipient of the organization’s Jack Shelley Award – this reporter publicly states that it stinks like yesterday’s diapers.
With the previous location, working journalists had an open view of Senate proceedings and had easier access to lawmakers to ask questions or receive information about certain laws. Sending the media to the balcony places another wall between lawmakers and journalists and, frankly, the public.
Over the years, I have enjoyed excellent relationships with legislators in our region. Let me stress that these are all very good people, regardless of their political party. But, the point is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for journalists at all levels to do their jobs. Whether it’s the Register, Radio Iowa, KCCI, or My Weekly Reader, anyone representing the local media at the Statehouse should have free and open access to a government agency doing the work of the people.
Also, congratulations to Iowa House for allowing the press to do their work at their usual location on the House floor.
Speech Season Department: Now that the smoke has cleared from my keyboard and the top of my head, let’s move on to another topic: high school speech contest season!
Certainly, the winter months mean that the high school boys and girls basketball seasons are off to a good start. But let’s not forget the young people who are preparing for the glove of the speech competitions that will take place in the coming months. The Iowa District High School Speech Association Large Group Speech Contests are held on Saturday, January 22, followed by the State Large Group Contests on February 5. Survivors of the State Speech Competition are selected for the All State Large Group Speech Festival in Ames in February. Then there are the individual speech competitions that begin immediately after the large group events.
Certainly, I am biased towards speech therapy students, especially since my wife is a speech therapy assistant coach for Shenandoah High School this school year. In addition, my two daughters participated in the high school speech. And, this participation benefited both of us not only as students, but as individuals. Still, the participants in the speech competition deserve to be recognized.
All the best to KMAland speech students this year. And, let’s hope the weather cooperates to allow a safe passage and a regular schedule for all scheduled events.
Mike Peterson is a senior presenter / reporter at KMA News. The opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of this station, its management or its ownership.