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February 22, 2011


Welcome to politics — and rot in hell?

by Deena Winter

Life on the campaign trail

Being in the journalism business for so long, I’m used to occasionally being called names, yelled at and abused by online commenters.

And I’m used to being disliked by some people.

I have a pretty thick epidermis, which I figured I’d need when I decided to run for the City Council. I was right.

Right out the chute, one person wrote on the Lincoln Journal Star comment section that I should “ROT IN HELL” for a story I wrote several years ago about the challenges facing a central Lincoln neighborhood. She lived in that neighborhood, and didn’t appreciate my interviewing a prostitute there, because she felt the stories put the neighborhood in a bad light.

Not long after my series came out, Mayor Chris Beutler started his “Stronger, Safer Neighborhoods” program and declared “There will be no slums on my watch!” and hired Jon Carlson to run the program. The city stepped up its work in the neighborhood, and hopefully they’ve seen an improvement. I know I see far fewer “for rent” and “for sale” signs now than I did back then. That’s good.

And then there was a commenter who claimed to have seen me at an arena meeting and heard me snap at someone who offered pro-arena comment, since I was only looking for arena opponents. Never happened. I probably should have ignored the comment, but couldn’t resist setting the record straight — which ignited another debate.

And then a particularly angry man commented on my campaign website, ending his diatribe by saying, “My advise (sic): Take a few dozen business and journalism classes and then lower your sites on city government service.” I’m not sure what that sentence means! Guess I need some more English courses, too.

I emailed the man to see what he was so mad about, and to my surprise an actual person responded (often, the meanest commenters don’t respond, most likely because they set up a fake email address for the sole purpose of posting nasty comments). A quick Internet search indicated he lives in Atlanta, Ga. I’m not sure why someone in Atlanta would be so angry at me, and when I asked for specific examples of stories he took issue with, he never responded. Hmmm….

If you pay attention to the tweeters and anonymous commenters and emailers, you can get down pretty quickly. Real people rarely have the guts to say such things in public — but it’s much easier to tap out on a typewriter — safely ensconced in anonymity.

However, I’ve found the perfect antidote: Rather than read rants online, talk to real people. Every time I go out and knock on doors (to gather signatures for my petition) I’m amazed at how very nice the real people are. They’re just plain nice. Nebraska nice.

My favorite comment on the campaign trail so far: “I’ll sign your petition, but I’m voting for Jonathan. I sing with his mom in the church choir.” Hey, I understand!

They remind me that most people are good people – they are not spending their spare time lighting up the Web with venom. Perhaps we would all do well to remember that.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Roger Yant
    Feb 22 2011

    Good one Deena! I have heard these things for years. Does not bother me. Keep your head up high, you are trying to make a difference to this city. As for Jon Cook, personally I like the guy, but politically I disagree with his decisions most of the time. Again, he is a good guy but not in my political venue most of the time. What people don’t seem to understand about independents, yes I am one also, is we don’t follow blindly what the party says. We listen to all the peoples problems and take it from there.

  2. Roberta
    Feb 22 2011

    Do you have enough signatures yet

  3. Boyd Ready
    Feb 22 2011

    Keep up the good work. You are interested in the truth and represent a fresh view.

  4. Dean Franklin
    Feb 22 2011

    The series of articles entitled “The Core”about a Lincoln neighborhood at the tipping point and the civic efforts taken to improve living conditions was a classic – the type of Feature seen in the Chicgo Tribune, N.Y. Times, Minneapolic Trbune or LA Times. This series is used in Neighborhood Watch presentations and included in Criminology coursework Many peole are surprised when they find out what is going on where they live, like on It’s not often that an LPD officer has a public forum to talk about what they put up with on a daily basis. Type II crimes are a real concern that get downplayed in Linoln
    There seems to be defcit of jpurnalists providing in-depth coverage on topics like the Licoln Convention Arean processes or the detailed workings of Collective Bargaining. Only at Winterized does one see the type of treatment you might see ijn Slate or the Atantic magazines..
    Oh well, turn on Inside Edition, break out the Enquirer and refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person


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