What caused Facebook to crash?

There are already conspiracy theories running wild, but I think it was an overload of autumn foliage photographs…

Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd, VA. (Stepno photo)
Looking east in a rainstorm, from Rocky Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd Virginia. (Stepno photo)
Smart View recreation area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd, VA. (Stepno photo)
Smart View recreation area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd, VA. (Stepno photo)
Smart View recreation area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd, VA. (Stepno photo)
I love the way the bears sweep up after themselves at Smart View recreation area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd, VA. (Stepno photo)

Posted in 2021, Appalachia, Blue Ridge Parkway, photography

Facebook down!

With Facebook offline for more than two hours, I renewed my friendships with people on Twitter, read investigative reporting stories about, coincidentally, Facebook and offshore Investments by rich people… and completed a crossword puzzle in an actual printed newspaper, highly amused by the similarity of “a lavish party” and “Kismet.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Virginia News News!

October update: The new regional news website for southwestern Virginia was renamed CardinalNews.org just before launch, emphasizing that it is a nonprofit organization and removing the suggestion that it actually was printing a traditional newspaper. The publication is off to a great start… Check it out! And, while you are at it, write them a check.

Yay! I just sent a friend a note about the Cardinal.Press project, and Facebook Messenger recognized that string as a legitimate web-address. Facebook had earlier rejected the newfangled “dotpress” Internet domain, but it now allows links to the new address, whose staff are promising to bring more serious news reporting to southwestern Virginia, where I live.
Add them to another recent start-up about an hour northeast of me, the Roanoke Rambler!

Insider information: Addresses ending in “.Press” (instead of “.com” or “.org” etc.) are being marketed heavily to individual journalists and new non-profit independent publishers interested in doing what “The Press” used to do …

That is, folks who are doing what newspapers did before owners started throwing news media companies under the wheels of “vulture capitalists” who gutted the staffs, consolidated papers, sold presses, homogenized layout and design, fired senior people with decades of community and political knowledge, and ended the local “big building downtown” visibility that helped make newspapers pillars of their communities for a century or two.

Those most recent chain companies like Alden Capital appear to be more about making money on real estate profits, selling off regional bureaus and branch offices as well as historic newspaper buildings all over America, while sending reduced staffs of reporters to file their stories from laptops at Starbucks, or something… and keeping “newspaper” brand-names just alive enough to sell ads (and more ads) and website subscriptions.

“Cardinal.Press” is a memorable address. But of course you don’t need a dot and the word “Press” at the end of a Web address to do journalism. Will that new batch of domain-addresses truly be a wave of the future or prove to be just a marketing scheme for folks to make money selling domain-name registrations? That is yet to be seen.

BUT the good news is that Southwestern Virginia now has two new places preparing to report the news in a professional manner … After a series of cutbacks, layoffs and retirements at The Roanoke Times, once the region’s powerful daily & Sunday paper, veteran reporters and editors have created both Cardinal.Press and RoanokeRambler.com — born-from-the-ashes startups here in the New River Valley, southwestern Virginia and the Roanoke Valley, covering counties and regional issues the Times has abandoned.

The Roanoke Times, which got into the domain-names business early enough to grab roanoke.com, is still operating in print and online, and I still pay for a subscription because I have nothing but respect for the reporters and editors who are still doing their jobs… The paper’s horrendously ad-soaked website, with frequently dysfunctional search engine, does let me subscribe to email headline-notifications for reporters who cover things I care about. I used to subscribe to eight or nine bylines. I deleted a few when I heard those individuals had left. Now layoffs and retirements have the list down to six and of those only three are still active (one just became editor of Cardinal.Press), but I do still read a few stories a day from the remaining notification-emails…

byline subscription list

But while some former staffers are taking the Phoenix-from-the-ashes approach to building a new regional journalism, the owners of the Times have seemed intent on making an ash of the paper for years under Berkshire-Hathaway and Lee Newspapers. Last year the Times simply gave up sending reporters to my city (Radford) and neighboring communities except for major crimes or court cases, covid-on-campus wrap-ups, and college sports. (Radford has a university, although smaller than the one a dozen miles away in Blacksburg, which the Times hasn’t abandoned fully. It has more and bigger sports.)

Cardinal.Press plans its full launch later this month and will focus on the area south and southwest of Roanoke. Presumably the Roanoke Times veterans at Cardinal.Press and the Roanoke Rambler will avoid competing with each other, the Rambler presumably more focused on the city and county that share its name. Cardinal.Press probably will cover more regional issues, not county-by-county hyperlocal news, given its much larger coverage area.

(I wonder whether its area will turn out to be roughly the size and shape of “The Crooked Road,” the roughly two dozen counties, towns and cities mapped out by promoters and supporters of Virginia mountain music. At least that’s how I read their early Press announcements. Time will tell. See the “about” pages at both sites for more about their evolving self-definitions, and to write them a check or two.)

I’m encouraged that both Roanoke Rambler and Cardinal.Press are staffed by experienced professional journalists who just can’t shake the habit of keeping an eye on the powerful, and trying to tell people useful information. They also have new approaches to paying the bills for “watchdog journalism.”

I almost forgot two older “alternative” news sites worth attention: https://vcij.org/ and https://www.virginiamercury.com/ should be on this list too, although they have been around a while longer: The Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism, and the Richmond-centered Virginia Mercury. Actually, both have headquarters in the state capital, and have been on my bookmark lists for a few years.

Virginia online media: Collect the complete set!

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Posted in 2021, Appalachia, Business, community, Journalism, Newspapers, Online-Only, Radford, Reporting, Roanoke Times, Social media, Southwestern Va, Virginia

Could be ADHD… or something…

Immediate right now to do list for use when all else fails…

Put down the the smartphone that that you are are you are using using to right write write this list with an echoey voice to text app … Don’t even edit this item.

Empty the dishwasher
Put the dishes that are piled up in the sink into the dishwasher

Rinse out the empty plastic containers in the other half of the sink and put them in the recycling bin or in the trash, according to the little triangular recycling numbers, which are probably a fraud anyway.

Search the pile of papers on the kitchen table for unpaid bills and pay them
Search the house for the postage stamps. They are probably in your briefcase since you were going to take the last batch of “unopened mail that might include unpaid bills” to the library and sort through them there just to get away from the Clutter. Was that really two months ago? Uh-oh.

Remove, but do not open, the two books that are on top of everything in the briefcase from your last visit to the library. At least move them to the “to read” shelf of the bookcase, next to the big box of “books I thought I would read, but I guess not,” and the to read Shelf has been spilling onto the floor for the past year or two.

Yes, there are about sixty books on the “to read shelf”, not counting the ones that are on the Kindle. But do not stop to count them. That would be more OCD than ADHD.

Move the 10 musical instruments and 12 music books off the living room furniture. (Do not stop to practice the fiddle even though you haven’t touched it in several days.)

Move the living room furniture out of the way of the living room windows so the  window installation contractors can get at them.
Call the contractor and see if they know when that will be!

Take a shower.
Cook the salmon steak you bought two days ago before it turns into a science project.
Put on pants before cooking the salmon.

Do not go write a new article for Jheroes.com — even though something just reminded you that you have two draft article ideas almost ready to go. Instead, respond verbosely to a Facebook post about doctoral dissertations and post this embarrassing list to your other blog.

Make a new to-do list….

1. Take a shower…

Posted in 2021, biography, health, humor, personal, smartphones, Stepno, writing

Summer begins…

Sunset June 22… Same western sky at dawn, June 23… Fog over the New River, Radford, Va., hills of Pulaski, Montgomery, or Giles counties and West Virginia beyond.

Technically, summer solstice 2021 in the Northern Hemisphere was at 11:31 p.m., June 20, but it took me a couple of days to get the camera phone pointed in the right direction at the right time.

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Posted in 2021, Radford, summer

Local SW Va News Sites

I’ve been making a bookmark list of newspapers and alternative sources of information about Southwestern Virginia (where I live) …

Given the title of this blog, I might as well put the list here as a shortcut for others who also might want to break out of a Facebook addiction now and then…

I’m also interested in the ownership and content-management systems for the papers, their similarities and functionality, or lack thereof. I’ll come back to this page and add information about media ownership, etc., now and then. I have a theory that along with maximizing profits, chain owners make technology and design decisions that cripple creativity and originality at some of these websites.

I’ll leave the comments section below open for suggestions of publications I’ve missed.

The Roanoke Times (Lee Enterprises)

Southwest Va Today (Lee Enterprises non-daily papers, Floyd, Wytheville, etc.)

Bristol Herald-Courier (Lee Enterprises)

The Southwest Times (Pulaski County, Pulaski, Dublin)

Pulaski County Patriot

Mountain Media — Virginia group of Virginia non-dailies owned by W.V. company, including Montgomery Messenger, Radford News-Journal and more.

The Virginian Leader (Giles County)

The Carroll News (Hillsville, Carroll County)

The Gazette (Galax, Grayson, Carroll counties) (Landmark Community Newspapers)

The Declaration (Independence, Grayson County) (Landmark Community Newspapers)

The Appalachian Voice (NC-Va-Tenn based environmental-issues “paper“)

Avoiding the middleman: Raw press releases from various institutions

Radford University

Virginia Tech

New River Community College (Dublin, Pulaski County)

U.S. Attorney Cases western Virginia

Virginia State Police News Releases

Other Virginia News Sites (now and then visiting SW Va

Virginia Public Media news page; Virginia Public Radio, WVTF Radio IQ

Public News Service … Virginia page

Virginia Dogwood (Courier Newsroom)


Inspiration strikes twice:
Six months ago I created a “web page” titled “Local News in Crisis” up on the main menu out of a similar train of thought to the one that inspired this blog post. I had forgotten about it! It has some duplication with this list, but also some more-general, critical and academic articles, while this blog post focuses on just news organizations and institutional press releases.

Posted in 2021, community, Journalism, Newspapers, Roanoke Times, Southwestern Va, Virginia

April 2021

So happy to be casting a shadow on green grass again… For my outside the area friends, this is Rocky Knob recreation area on the Blue Ridge Parkway, above Rock Castle Gorge and looking off across the Piedmont… on April 13, 2021.

Coincidentally, that was the 14th anniversary of the job interview that brought me to the area to teach journalism, website production and other media studies topics at Radford University. The mountains and related music made accepting the job … and retiring as soon as I could… a good decision.

And April 8th blossoms at the Smart View Recreation Area, also on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Posted in 2021, Blue Ridge Parkway

Deja pandemic vu …

Just a few posts down below this one in this underutilized blog is one from 11 months ago… Which I hadn’t looked at in a while … until I wanted to show a non-Facebook friend some pictures from this region (all by me)… Turns out two of the March 2020 pictures were quite similar to pictures I have taken in the past month. So here is a fresh batch…

Still happy to be here in southwest Virginia. Waiting for the music to come back…

The picture is… Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway… Trail’s cabin a bit farther north at the Smart View recreation area on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this year with turkey vultures on the chimney and the first buds on neighboring trees that suffered a pretty nasty February ice storm.

For Saint Patrick’s Day, no shamrocks, but I did find a green rock… At the Rocky Knob hiking trails, also on the Blue Ridge Parkway. And then an optimistic sunset from home, and evidence that I have not just been cruising the parkway taking pictures, but took time to vote in a special election, and get vaccinated. At this point I’m hoping the vaccine has a much more powerful effect then voting for a Democrat candidate in a gerrymandered Republican coal country district..

Last two pix are me and a sunset view from my house — looking westerly across the New River to Pulaski, Montgomery and Giles counties, with West Virginia over the farthest hilltop.

Meanwhile, even though I’ve been neglecting this blog, I’ve been putting in quite a few hours updating pages and posts at Jheroes.com, my audio-rich meditation on the portrayal of newspaper journalists in radio dramas. If you would rather listen to things and look at pictures, head on over there!

Posted in 2020, 2021, Appalachia, Radford, the Blue Ridge Parkway

2021 to-do list

1. Resume using this blog…

2. Don’t just take pictures out the window and sit in the kitchen watching your beard grow.

Posted in Uncategorized

Where did 2020 go?

I’m afraid my Facebook habit, with a bit of Twitter on the side, and my other blog, all conspired to keep me from writing anything here for a long time!

After seeing it on Facebook, a friend has told me that this photograph of mine, of the New River Bridge in Radford, Virginia, should be on the cover of something…

The Radford New River railroad bridge and an October sunset, by Bob Stepno, copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved, etc etc.
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Posted in Uncategorized
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