Pay For News?

Today, our local newspaper, The Record, announced it would begin charging for on-line access.record-for-a-dollar2 There was quite a stir on Twitter after the announcement. Some on the local Twitter scene thought that this would spell the end for the Record. And it seems as if some would be happy to see the Record fail.

I’m going to go out on a limb and, much to the chagrin of some of my friends, agree with the decision to start charging. While I recognize that this presents a unique opportunity for bloggers, podcasters and other media junkies to share their work I think we need to help local newspapers survive. Local blogger, Bill Ries-Knight said it best today:

“I'm just sayin... Who will be the gatherer of news if the Local Newspaper is gone? Who'll be there @ 2am when the bullets have been flying?”@Steelhoof

In September, I sat down with Michael Fitzgerald, metro columnist for the Record and, of course, the subject of blogging and the internet came up. He made a compelling case why a community needs a professional news organization. He spoke about a local blogger named Chocolate who anonymously blogged about issues related to Stockton Unified School District. Chocolate turned out to be the former principle of Stagg High School.

“She’s concealing the fact that she’s a disgruntled ex-employee. Now, some of her information was accurate and some of her opinions are valid... but wouldn’t you like to know that this person has an axe to grind... Finally, the newsroom is full of trained, talented, seasoned professionals. They filter out a lot of BS. The internet just puts it out there.” - Michael Fitzgerald

The “news” may be free, but the reporting of it shouldn’t be. Like a retail transaction, value should be traded for value. I am happy to pay for the talents of the people that work at the Record.

This does seem like a slippery slope. Hopefully the Record understands the potential impact of charging for online content. Of course, this could go terribly wrong. Subscribers could run for the hills and the Record could be left with fewer eyeballs to attract fewer advertisers with tightening budgets. But then again, it could turn out just fine.

Is there room in this community for the likes of Reclaiming the TitleRodsRantsBrewery33 and Podcast Stockton? Absolutely! And we need more voices. We also need newspapers, radio and TV stations... with the resources to help us tell the stories. As I strive to become more involved with telling the stories of Stockton I hope organizations like the Record will continue to be here. We need Michael Fitzgerald, Daniel Thigpen, Christian Burkin, David Siders, Tara Cuslidge and Ian Hill.

“... do you seriously think that many people will pay for online paper? Especially enough to save a sinking ship...”@BREWERY33

Will I pay for online Recordnet access? Yes.

Is it absurd?

Well, perhaps to some it is. I remember when I was a child and the concept of paying for a bottle of water was absurd. As of a few years ago, Americans were spending $15 Billion a year on bottled water. Don’t judge me for giving $40 a year to the Record.



My Grandmother

In early November, Mimi, my Grandmother, had a stroke. She was taken to David Grant Hospital at Travis AFB where she was taken excellent care of for nine days. The doctors told my Aunts that she can no longer live alone. For a woman as strong willed as Mimi, this was not going to be easy. After a week or so at the convalescent home where her husband is she moved to Lodi to live with my Aunt and her family. Today, I went to visit Mimi. When I walked through Hope’s house Mimi was reading through Christmas cards and get well letters. She was looking at pictures and asking me to identify family members.

The stroke has had some affect on her memory. It is sad to think that she may not remember who I am, but it must be scary for her to be going through this. After a few minutes of talking with her I could tell she remembered who I was. She talked about my “beautiful” wife, our “tall” daughter and the one with the “red hair”. Those descriptions were all I needed to know she knew exactly who I was. Of course, she kept looking at me and calling me her “handsome”, a name she has called me for many years (no cracks about her eyes going bad... she can see just fine).

After spending some time just talking with Mimi and going through her speech therapy excersizes, my Aunt Hope mentioned that she had started speaking Italian. Mimi’s parents were born in Italy and they all spoke Italian as children. She hasn’t spoken Italian (except for the random single word) in at least 50 years. I asked her to speak to me in Italian and to my amazement, she just flipped the switch in her brain and speaking in beautiful Italian.

The stroke has also really affected her ability to speak. She in understandable but sometimes the wrong word comes out. The doctors told my Aunt that the stroke likely unlocked that part of her memory.

The thirty minutes I spent with Mimi was amazing. I had such a wonderful time with her. I hardly understood any of the Italian but hearing her speak it brought tears to my eyes.

In the middle of our conversation I pulled out my iPhone and recorded it.

Listen here. expensive-headphones

matt-and-mimi-11-08 Mimi and Matt - Thanksgiving 2008

I love you Mimi.

Family is Forever!

Thanksgiving Day Run Walk Against Hunger

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This morning, Emily and I got up early to participate in the 5th Annual Run and Walk Against Hunger, supporting the Emergency Food Bank of Stockton / San Joaquin.

We got there early to register and even by 7:00 there was a sizable crowd. It was pretty cold out, but the skies were clear. Emily and I registered and went back to the car to warm up. By 7:30 the crowd was growing and by 8:00, nearly 4,000 people were assembled at Banner Island Ballpark for the event. We finally got a chance to meet Adriana Brogger and JT Valencia and talk about some cool ideas for the Stockton media scene.

We met up with our friend Rod Villagomez from With the crew from DRTV, Rod was doing a live broadcast from the walk. Complete with a contraption attached to something that resembled a heavy-duty weight lifting belt, he was able to “rodcast” live video during the 3.1 mile walk. Having spent a little time with Rod during his 24 hour Rant-a-Thon a few weeks back I can tell you that the 1 hour walk / broadcast was more physically challenging!

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The walk took us down Fremont Street to Center Street and then down Weber Avenue. We turned around at the I-5 overpass and then walked back through the marina and then through McLeod Park. Since we opted for the walk instead of the run, I was able to bring my camera. It was a perfect fall day to take some pictures of beautiful downtown Stockton.

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Check out the rest of the pics here.

KISS In Fresno

On Saturday, JR and I saw KISS in concert in Fresno.Screen shot 2009-11-27 at 9.45.27 PM (photo courtesy of JR Beckwith)

We got there just before 8:00 and the opening act, local band Shiver Fox was playing. Neither of us had ever heard of them. They were pretty good, but I can’t remember anything they performed. I just thought it was cool that a local band was playing as the opening act.

Just after 9:00, the lights went out and the crowd went crazy. The video screens on the sides of the stage showed Gene, Paul, Tommy and Eric walking backstage and then the obligatory “You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world... KISS!”.

Needless to say, the place went nuts!

The set list:

Deuce - of course they opened with this one! Strutter Let Me Go (Rock and Roll) Hotter Than Hell Shock Me - sang by Tommy Thayer... awesome! Dr Love Modern Day Delilah - good choice from the new album Cold Gin - Paul asked the crowd not to drink and drive Tommy guitar solo Parasite Say Yeah - another selection from Sonic Boom 100,000 Years / Eric drum solo - I miss Eric Carr, but Eric Singer is awesome! Gene bass solo I Love It Loud Paul plays intro to Stairway To Heaven Black Diamond - sang by Eric Singer Rock And Roll All Night

The band exits.

A minute or so later, at 10:40, the band came back on the stage for their bow. As the fans scream for an encore, Paul says “it will be the longest encore you've ever heard”.

Shout It Out Loud Lick It Up Love Gun - Paul sang some of it from a platform in the middle of the floor. Detroit Rock City

At 11:00 the show was over for good. Awesome show!

Of course the show came with flames shooting from the stage, as well as from Gene’s mouth, fireworks, including those shot from Tommy’s guitar (one of which hit an overhead set of lights, causing one end to swing free from the rafters), Gene flying up to the top of the arena, not far from the ceiling, and huge platforms that must’ve been 3 or 4 stories tall.

I consider myself a die-hard KISS fan. The fact that the band is performing with “hired hands” playing the roles of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss has caused some controversy. Seems that some fans dislike Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer playing those “characters”. I think the band is much better with Tommy and Eric. Ace and Peter are due heaps of respect but their time has come and gone, and come and gone again. Let’s not forget that there were other awesome musicians in the band. Criss was replaced by the late Eric Carr, who lost his battle with cancer 11-24-1991 (side note: don’t get me started on the Freddie Mercury / Eric Carr bit). Eric Singer joined the band after Carr’s death and has been there through some great and some terrible music. Ace was replaced by Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John (one of my favorites), Bruce Kulick and then, ultimately, by Tommy Thayer. On the latest release, Sonic Boom, Paul, Gene, Tommy and Eric, came up with a sound that is classic in every sense of the word. Their sound is timeless and clean. I have no doubt that Tommy and Eric “dumbed down” their playing to match the style of their original band member brethren. This line-up is, by far, the best one Gene and Paul have put together. Period.

The Fresno show, and many others, was not a sell-out. Does that mean that KISS has lost their touch? I wouldn’t say that. After 35 years, the fact that they can put on this type of spectacle 4-5 nights a week means they still have it!

Gene’s age showed but he looked a thousand times more of the rocker than he does on Family Jewels. Paul’s voice was not 100% the entire show but talked to the crowd more than I remember him doing in ’96 when I saw them in Sacramento. If they go back out on tour in another 13 years, the 2022 tour, I can only imagine that Gene and Paul will have replaced, or cloned, themselves.

Check out the pics here.

7th Son

J.C. Hutchins's first installment of the 7th Son trilogy, 7th Son: Descent, hit book stores recently.


I don't read much fiction. I prefer to get my fiction fix by watching movies. This book, however, is worth reading over and over again. J.C. Hutchins tried, unsucessfully, to get his story published before releasing it as a free podcast. I discovered his podcast just before his final book was released on audio. He took to the podosphere and used the power of the internet to spread the message about his book.

After amassing an enormous following to his podcast, publishers finally started to take notice. And now, 7th Son is in print!

The story starts with the brutal assisination of the President by a 4 year child. Readers quickly learn that there is an evil conspiracy consisting of clones and government officials with code phantom clearance.


J.C. is a masterful storyteller and 7th Son is the creepiest story I have ever read. The podcast version of the book is still available, check out the info here. You can also purchase a copy from your favorite bookstore, or from Amazon.

If you're in to sci-fi thrillers, this one will not dissapoint!

If you do pick up a copy, tell J.C. that Beta Clone #235 sent you.

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Stockton Marina Ribbon Cutting

David Harzoff, the Director of Revitalization opened up the ceremony and introduced Mayor Ann Johnston who came to the podium wearing a commodore's hat. After some words from Dennis Smallie, Douglass Wilhoit and others, the mayor spoke about the late former mayor, Joan Darrah. James Darrah, Mrs. Darrah's widower, and their grown children were in attendance. Mr. Darrah told the story of when his wife was told that the promenade would bear her name. It was a touching story. johnston-darrah-2009-10-30

More dignitaries, and official representatives of other dignitaries that were not in attendence, spoke briefly before the ribbon was cut by the mayor, with the Darrahs, councilmembers and others at her side.


It was a beautiful event packed with tons of civic pride. We don't own a boat and don't spend much time on the delta but I'm still excited that our new marina has finally opened. Naming the promenade after the late Joan Darrah was a nice touch.

Check out the rest of the pictures here.

Stir Up Stockon

Andy continues to fan the fire he started last week. And it appears that his plan to #stir things up is gaining momentum. Local blogger, SlickDiaz, wrote a well thought out piece on his blog, Reclaiming the Title. Rod has not been silent on the matter, either. On Friday,Ian added his voice to the mix. What we have here is a handful of passionate Stocktonians, wanting to increase communication throughout our communities. How cool is that? Seriously. That is cool!

The What We have an opportunity to increase communication between city departments, elected officials and the people of Stockton. I don’t know if we’ve been at this point before. I don’t know if we are here now because of technology or because people are just becoming more energized. It is likely both. The web, with current services like Twitter and Facebook, give us the ability to interact with friends and family. It can also give us the ability to interact with our local government.

While I agree that most people don’t trust their elected officials, I do not believe that you need to trust someone to interact with them online. We need an easier way for citizens to get up-to-date information from local government and for these citizens to have tools with which to communicate with the city. Not everyone can (or wants to) attend city council meetings. Writing a letter, and even sending an e-mail, can be arduous. Using Facebook and Twitter is a simpler way.

The Who As it relates to social media consumption, I see three populations in Stockton. Andy, Slick, Rod, Ian and I are in one group - the “veterans”, for lack of a better term. In another group are those that have no access to a computer and may not own a cell phone. The third group is the one I will refer to as the “fringe”. This is the population that may already use the web to get news and may have even visited our city’s website (provided that they remember what the URL is). They may have delved into social media but only to have fun with their friends or keep tabs on their favorite American Idol contestant/judge/host.

The size of the fringe is not insignificant. I would argue that it is the biggest of the three groups. This is the group on which we should be focusing our energy.

We mustn’t forget about that second part of the population: those on the other side of the digital divide. We still need traditional communication channels for this group. We need the smart people in our community to come up with better ways to get this population engaged.

The How We need to reach the fringe. Not to sell them on Twitter or Facebook. Rather, we need to have an open dialog about new ways to communicate with the City. It is our job, as members of the veteran group, to help spread the word to the fringe.

We need to hold social-media town halls. Although I am very much a fan of meet-ups (can’t wait for our first Tweetup!), getting a bunch of veterans together won’t do much to get new participants involved. We can hold how-to sessions at local libraries. We can also do what we’re doing now, talk to our friends, family and neighbors. We can keep stirring it up.

In order to realize any success in this regard, the City of Stocktonmust officially jump into the mix. They need to start small and identify what departments are best suited for this new medium. The city cannot wait for “enough people” to be in the channel before ramping up their efforts.

To help the city along, the Record must dedicate some space to educating the community about social media. The Record’s managing editor, Dan Blount blogged a simple post recently. Writing about social networking sites, Mr. Blount added, “As the world expands, it continues to contract through the use of these media.” We need more than a quick blog entry. The Record has the power to get in front of a lot eyeballs. This cause could benefit from that power.

The Question What else can we do to increase and improve communication amongst the city and its citizens? What ideas do you have? Leave a comment or send an e-mail to

At the end of the day, Twitter and Facebook are awesome tools to start a conversation. We need more conversations in this city and we need more people in the conversation.