- MINI-CHOPPER: Questions remain.
Where's the beef? The North Little Rock Police Department recently purchased an $80,000 unmanned mini-chopper. What exactly they'll do with it no one really knows yet, but the unveiling of the PD's new toy did draw considerable media attention. Most reports were of the this-thing-is-awesome variety. Reports from KATV, KTHV and Fox 16 focused on the technological capacity of the chopper. For instance it can be controlled by remote and reach heights of 2,300 feet. It's also equipped with a sophisticated surveillance camera.
Several unanswered questions hovered over each report. Is this really the best use of that money? The purchase was made using federal grant dollars, but what was the total amount of the grant? What else could that money have bought?
According to a spokesperson for the NLRPD, the money used to buy the chopper was set aside for “equipment.” At press time, I could not get a total dollar amount set aside in the grant for “equipment.” Did they spend all of it? Might that money be better spent on other things to help officers protect themselves, or catch criminals? I'm sure the NLRPD has an answer, but no one really asked. Instead of getting to the bottom of a very serious expenditure, viewers were left with the impression, as one anchor noted, that “that mini-chopper is pretty cool.”
CYN Road Show: Can't get enough of KATV's Choose Your News? Do you find yourself, for no good reason, obsessively checking your Twitter account to find out what CYN correspondent Jessica Dean had for lunch? Or are you sick of the whole over-promoted thing? Well, in an attempt to shake things up, and probably to find advertisers outside of Pulaski County, KATV is taking CYN on the road. Dean's one-shot web-cam will now be mounted inside a custom RV instead of on the corner of her desk. As part of the “Spirit of Arkansas Road Trip,” the Channel 7 crew will be hitting 25 cities in 25 days, traveling in an RV equipped with wireless internet and all the other bells and whistles. Dean will be blogging and tweeting as usual and filing news reports daily. If you thought the stories were fluffy before, just wait until the tour kicks off in Russellville on April 20.
Swallowed Whole: North Little Rock native Nate Powell, who has received much critical acclaim for his graphic novel “Swallow Me Whole,” recently received three nominations for this year's Will Eisner Awards. The awards, named for one of the medium's greats, are among the comic industry's most prestigious. Eisner, whose works have inspired many artists throughout the years, is most famous for heroic comics like “The Spirit” and powerfully subtle graphic novels like “A Contract With God.” Powell is in pretty good company. In the Best Writer/Artist category he is joined by modern comic legends Chris Ware (“Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth”) and Jason Lutes (“Berlin,” “Jar of Fools”). Powell was also nominated for Best Graphic Album and Best Lettering. The results will be announced on July 24 at the annual Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Lessons in Tweeting: The onslaught of recent coverage of the social networking platform Twitter has consumed national as well as local media. You can barely open up a newspaper, read a blog or watch a televised news report without hearing about it. I recently wrote in this space that while Twitter could be a useful way to relay information it could also be used for more mundane purposes (i.e. “Heading back to the office with Whole Hog in hand.”)
I've since started tweeting and while it's useful to catch fleeting glimpses of breaking news stories and other interesting items, I do find that it is completely consuming me, shortening my attention span and besetting me with a general feeling of Twitter anxiety. I'm Twitterpated, I guess you could say.
We're all learning how to deal with this new media world. (See John Brummett's column on page 17.) Twitter was, for me, a gateway drug to Tumblr. Follow my tumblr-blog at bytheby.tumblr.com. I'm tweeting @gerardmatthews.