Regarding the First Amendment Auditor’s YouTube theatre visit to Susanville — the medium is the message

Last evening I received this email: “Hi Sam: Apparently there was a First Amendment Auditor in town recently and let’s just say (neither) the city nor the county looked rather good in the video clips that have been released on Youtube.

“For fear of retribution and reprisal, this information is being provided to you anonymously. This kind of exposure is needed to start changing both the city and the county and to get rid of the good ol boys around here.

These videos come from Bay Area Transparency with 267K subscribers and 179 videos.

According to YouTube, “Investigative journalism interactions that showcase police misconduct issues / reform, prison system / rehabilitation issues, and peaceful public employee conduct checks, for news purposes. Founder of the BayFam baby! Together we are continuously working to create the changes needed in community policing in the U.S. today.”

I guess in our era anyone who claims to be a journalist actually is a journalist. I have to concede that. It used to be a profession with standards and ethics. Today,  it’s anyone who says they are one. That’s sad.

Now as not everyone knows a journalist has no more right to governmental information than any other member of the public. Some people seem to think that a journalist has some secret access to public officials and information, but we don’t. Our access is the same as the public’s access.

And I believe our First Amendment Auditor is correct in his assertions regarding his First Amendment right of access to the upstairs offices at City Hall because the public sometimes conducts business up there.

I have visited folks in those upstairs offices before, and I always acted like a normal human being. I was invited to go upstairs to meet with someone when I had legitimate business with them. Yeah, maybe I could have just barged up there like a bull in a China shop and banged on someone’s door with both my fists and demanded to be let in immediately, but that’s not my style.

All Mr. Auditor has done is forced the city to make changes to its downstairs area by declaring and securing and posting those areas as private and restricting access through locked doors or a keypad.  Let me be the very first one to say thank you so much, Mr. Auditor, for your valuable journalistic contribution to my city. You have really made such a profound contribution to my community.

But let me not give this bozo any credit he doesn’t deserve.

Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan  plainly stated, “The medium is the message.” In simplistic terms he means the way any medium communicates with us is largely defined by the nature of that medium itself. I mean a newspaper is different than the radio, a magazine is different than a television show, a website is different than a movie, etc. We look at those mediums and from each arises a certain set of expectations. We know what we’re going to get — no one would expect to get local news while they’re watching “Top Gun.”

So, I hope readers can recognize when they watch this stuff that it’s simply YouTube Tomfoolery that serves no other purpose than to provoke our government officials, put them between a rock and a hard place and then make us laugh at the absurd encounters. In my mind it’s perfectly akin to watching the crazy Russian drivers and their unbelievable car crashes.

And in all honesty, I must confess I have watched both of those on YouTube — First Amendment Auditor himself and the crazy Russian drivers — to my repeated great amusement, but I don’t give either of  them even the slightest hint of importance.

“This kind of exposure is needed to start changing both the city and the county and to get rid of the good ol boys around here,” the email writer wrote.

Wow. I wish you luck on that one, my anonymous friend, bless your heart. I sure hope you’re not holding your breath or anything like that while you’re following this ridiculous buffoon.