Should NPR Be Taxpayer Subsidized?

National Public Radio found itself in the middle of a national firestorm when they fired Juan Williams last week, a well-known liberal commentator. He was fired for expressing a controversial opinion on the O’Reilly Factor on the Fox News Network, which NPR says violated their journalistic and broadcasting standards. However, it became a huge controversy because most of NPR’s other commentators do this very same thing on NPR and other mediums on a daily basis, and many of the most outrageous opinions expressed by some of these commentators have been brought to light repeatedly since this story broke. None were fired for doing so, and it has become an obvious double standard. It got worse when NPR CEO, Vivian Schiller went on national television and made callous and condescending remarks about why they fired Juan Williams, and questioned his sanity. It’s probably the first time in cable news history when conservative and liberal pundits got together on air and agreed wholeheartedly on anything, and both sides supported Juan Williams. But they were angry about William’s firing for different reasons.

Conservatives were outraged because they have long held that NPR is a thinly veiled far-left leaning news organization that receives nearly half a billion dollars a year in taxpayer money. They believe NPR has been unhappy about Juan Williams appearing on the Fox News Network for years, and this was an excuse to fire him. This is a fact that Juan Williams later confirmed. It wasn’t hard for conservative pundits to prove they had a point either. Of nineteen NPR commentators, eighteen are liberals, and one is a moderate. There isn’t one single conservative voice on the payroll of the taxpayer subsidized National Public Radio. And conservatives have been having a real field day with it right before a major election.

Liberals were outraged as well, and quickly came to Juan William’s defense. Jon Stewart, Whoppi Goldberg and even the Reverend Jesse Jackson have spoken out on the subject. Williams is a very well respected liberal and Democrat, he is extremely high profile, and he was able express his point of view to millions of listeners and viewers NPR doesn’t reach through his work on FOX News and other venues, and held his own against the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and many others. In fact, he’s so well respected by Bill O’Reilly, he’s hosted the O’Reilly Factor in his absence several times. Liberals lost a voice with Juan Williams that conservatives didn’t often agree with, but respected and listened to because of William’s personality and his ability to frame his arguments and make his points effectively and respectfully against very heavy hitters. Juan is one of the very few liberal commentators today that can make a conservative stop and admit he might just have a good point. They were also upset over NPR’s decision because it shined a bright light on the liberal media bias in a way that it hadn’t been exposed before.

But the question remains, should NPR be taxpayer subsidized, and if it is, shouldn’t it express the opinions of all the taxpayers that support it? In a country where 40% of Americans consider themselves conservative, and 20% liberal, shouldn’t NPR have a more fair and balanced staff of commentators to provide alternative viewpoints more in line with the viewpoints of all Americans that financially support it with their tax dollars?

And another question looms in the minds of many. Do we really need National Public Radio in today’s world, or has the internet, satellite radio, cable news, web news sites, and the blogosphere rendered it as obsolete as the Sony Walkman, which coincidentally, just went out of production this week?

There’s serious talk amongst Republicans to seek to defund NPR, and support is growing to do just that. Let NPR sink or swim on their own merits, without the taxpayer safety net, based on the quality of the programming they produce alone just like every other radio station and news outlet in America. If the product is something Americans want, they will continue to support it, and NPR will continue to thrive. If not, the American taxpayers just saved half a billion dollars a year on something that only represents the views of a small percentage of them.

I don’t agree with defunding NPR. I listen to public radio. They do a good job covering stories cable news and mainstream media don’t cover at all. I think at the very least their CEO should be canned without question, and I think if taxpayers are supporting it, in full or in part, its commentators should be a more representative voice of the American people. They should add conservative voices in the discourse. It would make the programming more interesting, and more people would listen. This is the very reason Air America failed—there was no diversity in the conversation. It was a collection of liberal commentators that all agreed with each other, took calls from liberals that also agreed with everything they said, and they all patted each other on the back every day, 24 hours a day, until it was so uninteresting advertisers stopped advertising, and even liberals quit listening. It folded up like a cheap umbrella.

Conversation is important—many voices coming together and talking. Our media has become too one-sided. I heard a conservative talk show personality say the other day that the worst thing that could happen to their industry is if the national media lost all their bias and started reporting both sides of the stories. According to him, the reason conservative talk radio is so popular is that it’s the only place conservatives can hear the other side of the story—and they tune in by the millions every day. Might be the reason Fox News dominates as their competitors face difficult choices due to poor ratings. This disconnect might also be the reason for what looks like is going to be a very good election for conservatives—two years after MSNBC declared conservatism dead.

Politicians in this election are about to learn a lesson NPR and the national media needs to learn too. You can’t simply ignore and disregard the fact that some people don’t agree with you. You only learn by listening to other voices. Many career politicians will go down next Tuesday, and if the media doesn’t learn soon, they’ll face the same judgment. When you’re in the public eye either serving the public or reporting the news to the public, you can’t just preach to the choir. You’ve got to reach the whole congregation. If we don’t learn that lesson, we’ll never be the post-partisan America we all thought we were heading towards just a couple years ago. We’ll always be divided, and nobody benefits from division.


Fiction Novel is Just About Wrapped Up

Things are rolling along very nicely with my novel One Last Shot.  Another week, and I imagine it'll be completely done and awaiting release.  And you're probably tired of hearing about it, so I promise, this will be the last post about it until I announce the release.  The editing is finished, and the interior design has been completed with the exception of the title page, which my graphic designer will lay out to match the cover.  The cover!  Wait until you see the cover!  I've got a very talented cover designer from California, Brion Sausser, working with me on the cover.  There's a good chance this novel will become a series, so he's worked hard on coming up with thematic elements in the cover that can be used as a cover "signature" so that all the covers in the series have a common look.  He's done a wonderful job on this one.  He provided me originally with three cover concepts, one of which I pretty much knew the second I saw it was the one.  Of course, I'll have to keep that cover tightly under wraps until we get closer to the release.  But I will tell you, it has a real "retro" feel to it. 

One Last Shot will be available from Moon & Son Publshing at online booksellers, bookstores and for download to your Nook or Kindle in early 2011.

Whew.  I see a lull coming up, and I need one.  Maybe I can actually write something for a change. 

Special Thanks to Ray Gordon

So I needed a little logo to use as the imprint for my publishing company Moon & Son.  It had to be very simple, because it has to reproduce well very small, not only for the title page, but even smaller--it has to fit on the spine of a book so maybe no larger than a quarter of an inch square.  I found an old woodcut image full of Masonic symbols, including the moon and sun, and I really liked the stylized moon.  But I was having a tough time cleaning up the image so it was sharp. 

I mentioned my difficulty to Bro. Ray Gordon.  Ray's an excellent graphic artist I meet in Pekin a few years ago, and he said "send it to me."  I did, and this is what he sent me back this afternoon.  He not only cleaned it up, but that moon's profile changed somewhat.  It looks like somebody I know, I just can't put my finger on who it is.  Handsome devil whoever it is. 

Thanks a lot, Ray.  I've got my imprint now. 

The Last Rejection!

Hey, the nice thing is, this is the last one!  I won't have to worry about going through this painful and ultimately pointless exercise again.  Moon & Son Publishing just loves my stuff! 
Dear Todd,

Thank you very much for thinking of me and *blank* Literary Management for representation. Due to the large volume of submissions that I receive, it is impossible for me to answer every query individually, however I assure you that your material was carefully evaluated. After consideration, I regret to say that your project is not right for my list at this time. As you know, this is a subjective business and another reader may feel differently. To that end I wish you the best in finding enthusiastic representation.


I had actually thought that agency might pan out, and I waited a long time before charging ahead with my own plans.  There are a lot of hoops to jump through, but I'm just about through them.  Gearing up for a February release.  Very exciting.  Never planned a launch quite like this one before.  I pretty much sent in my books to the publisher, and when they popped up on Amazon, I said "TADA!"  As the publisher, there's a few more steps involved.  I'd like to release electronic versions for Nook, Kindle and I-Pad at the same time.  There's listings to see to, art and content to provide..  Need to get a few pre-reviews of the book done.  Lots of little details.  I love a good challenge, and I'm really looking forward to this one.

Moon & Son Publishing Company

It's official.  I've got a new publisher!  I'm pretty sure they'll be easy to work with, and will treat my book as if it was their very own--that's because it's me.  I've set up my own publishing company.  Now you know what I've been up to the last couple weeks.  I suddenly realized a few months ago it made no sense to pay somebody to do work I can do better myself.  Don't get me wrong, many of these "author services" companies do a good job, but they are a middleman.  If you're going to put out one book to a niche market, they're perfect.  It's a cheap and easy way to get that book out, and get it listed with the major sellers, however, don't plan on it being very profitable, because they'll take a cut, and nickle and dime you to death on shipping, etc.  But if you're like me, and plan on putting out a title or two a year indefinitely, this is a way better option.

As an independent publisher I'll have access to the same printing services, distribution, and marketing resources as major publishers--and better access to library markets, and mortar and brick stores too.  And as the publisher, I'll also be able to tap into that growing electronic book market.  And I don't pay a middleman, or an agent . . . seemed like a no-brainer really.  It's my plan to eventually republish all my previous books under the Moon & Son imprint.

Another interesting idea presented to me last week, was the possibility that Moon & Son Publishing could offer these same services to other authors--especially Masonic writers who often go through vanity presses, pay thousands of dollars for a poorly produced book, and wind up sitting on a few hundred (or thousand) copies they have no way of selling because the vanity press doesn't do much with marketing.  Vanity presses are different from author services companies.  They charge large fees up front, while an author services company might charge you a small fee for an ISBN number, and the services after that are free (other than the cut they'll take off the top). 

It's unbelievable to me that first-time authors still fall for this vanity press ploy.   Please, don't pay to have your book published.  Publishers pay you, you don't pay publishers.  It's a rip-off.  If they were truly a real publisher, and had any intention of marketing your book, they'd be satisfied with a share of the proceeds.  In order to recoup your investment, you'll have to sell your book for a price nobody is going to be willing to pay.  Last weekend, they had a local author signing books at the bookstore--it was a 300 page, 6 x9 paperback selling for the price of a new hardcover.  He published using a vanity press, without doubt. 

I'm good at interior layouts, and I know several top-notch cover designers, website guy, etc.--so maybe offering a few services outside my own projects is a direction I will go eventually.  I've already had some interest in that.

One Last Shot will be the first title published by Moon & Son Publishing, and is scheduled for release tentatively in February 2011.  There may also be a second volume of A Freemason Said That released in 2011 as well. 

News Coming Soon About the Novel

So for the past couple months, I've spent the majority of my spare time trying to sell this fiction novel I've written One Last Shot, to the point I had to take a break for the first time since I started writing because it's burnt me completely out.  Seems I've spent so much time on that, I've had no time to do anything else, let alone actually write anything.  I was very close to shoving it into a drawer and moving on before it sucked the life out of me. 

But all things happen for a reason, and through a chance encounter (and a bizarre e-mail exchange), suddenly the novel is alive and well, and it looks like it may see publication after all.  There are still a few details to work out, but within a couple weeks or so, I'll tell you what's going on.  Unless this falls through, in which case, this blog entry will vanish, and I'll deny knowledge it ever existed. 

But if it works out, it's not only going to impact the new novel, but it could very well breath new life into the existing volumes of the Famous American Freemasons series as well.   And it pretty much guarantees my future books, fiction and non-fiction, will be treated with the utmost care and consideration. 

I'd like to tell you now, but you'll just have to await the announcement.