Inside the Capitol

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cantwell on Miller

Cantwell column Thursday September 12 2013
You Done Good, Jay
Jay Miller is a quitter. After just 26 years and 7,200 columns, he's tacked a "Gone Fishing" sign on his Inside the Capitol column. Jock dads put a little football in their son's crib. Jay's daddy must have left a tiny typewriter.
The column has been a New Mexico institution since the 1940s and, as reported by Jay in his farewell, it was written in turn by Charlie Cullen, Fred Buckles, Bob Huber, Carroll Cagle and Fred McCaffrey. Taking over in 1987, Jay had the longest run of all.
Jay's departure is not a good omen for the state. We are reminded an important staple of New Mexico journalism, the syndicated reporter, is disappearing. There are others out there, not the least of which is Sherry Robinson and her cohorts at New Mexico News Services that well serves community newspapers. But the industry's ability to support such services dwindles. Jay lists Sherry, by the way, as one of his favorite New Mexico writers.
Until he cut back to three, Jay Miller pounded out no less than six columns a week. Just the thought makes my little brain ache.
Jay won't quit writing. Too much like breathing. He has a blog, Among other postings you will find answers to questions this writer posed to my retiring columnist colleague. I can only skim the top here. Go to the blog for comprehensive Miller observations. Good reading, indeed.
Having gotten into more than my share of column trouble, I asked Jay to reveal his oops moments. Alas, he ran afoul of bikers. He supported a legislative bill requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Bikers sounded off with a vengeance.
It was then Jay had a lapse of judgment with which I can identify. He responded to biker outrage with a follow up that wondered "who the bikers found to read my column to them." No, Jay! Bad, Jay! From that moment on, Jeanette insisted on column review before Miller typed –30--.
With a broad range of interests, Miller columns were as varied as the state itself. One recurring, captivating theme was New Mexico's most famous outlaw, a subject that led to his "Billy the Kid Rides Again," available at Amazon. A Silver City and Las Cruces youngster, just on the fringe of Billy territory, Jay continues to write about many curious aspects of that historical drama.
The retired columnist has some interesting observations on New Mexico governors he has covered, and you will find that information on his Inside the Capitol blog. And prospective journalists need to click onto the website for some frank advice.
Come this January when the Legislature is in session and the snow is falling and the roads are crummy, and Susana Martinez will be squabbling with Democrats and New Mexico is still looking for the answer, Jay and Jeanette Miller will be sitting, coffee in hand on their Scottsdale patio, gazing at Camelback. And Jay might well be thinking, "you know what, I did some good and had a lot of fun."
A guy can't ask much more than that.
(Ned Cantwell – – remembers the days when columns were "pounded" on typewriters rather than "tapped" on laptop keyboards.)

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Newest Billy the Kid Pics fake


You recently may have seen that a second picture of Billy the Kid has been discovered. It is no surprise.

The only authenticated picture of Billy sold a little over a year ago for $2.3 million. Can't you imagine people going through drawers hoping to find a picture that looks like the Kid? Or at least looks enough like Billy that it could be photo-shopped to look even more like him?

According to Billy the Kid experts, that may be what happened in this instances. According to the picture, the person pictured with Billy is Dan Dedrick, a good enough friend that Billy gave him one of the four tintypes from the day the one authenticated picture was taken.

But leading Western historians say the people pictured are not either the Kid or Dedrick.

How long will it take for this doctored photo to meet its death? It may be quite a while. A third picture claiming to be Billy has now emerged at a private museum in New Mexico.

Billy the Kid has captured the minds of so many.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Stop sideline interviews


I was so sorry to see Pam Oliver hit in the head by a football on the sidelines of a game recently. I put that on my list of future blogs but now that we learn it caused a concussion, I have moved it up.

Oliver was doing just what she was told to do in the spot she was told to do it. But the whole deal is dumb. No one learns much from sideline reporting. The questions are mostly lime. "How did it feel to be knocked for a 20-yard loss?" I figure all interviewers, on any subject, get paid extra if they can make an interviewee cry.

Politicians are given a list of talking points to cover, with instructions to get them all in – and no more. With athletes, it is much the same, except if they go beyond the talking points, they might be fined. "How on earth did you pull off that touchdown play?"

An honest answer is a sure fine. The required answer is "We just like to put the ball in the end zone, m'am. I would prefer to be watching the game than listening to an inane interview. But the league management seems to think the interviews sexes up the game so management requires the interviews.

I like the reporting Vin Scully does for 65 years for the Dodger baseball games. He has no one in the booth with him – or on the sidelines. My favorite sideline interviews are the ones grudgingly granted by San Antonie Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich His answers are a curt one or two words saying nothing. But it is so much more pleasant that two paragraphs saying nothing.

Let's hope Pam Oliver's injury will lead to a reexamination of interview policies, especially for sideling interviews.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Ned Cantwell wrap-up


To continue with Ned Cantwell's questions, the column that got me in the most trouble came early in my career. The legislature was considering a bill to require everyone to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Bikers immediately began to protest.

I wrote that I agreed they should have the right to do as they want but they also had the responsibility to take care of their medical expenses either personally or through insurance and not expect the government to pick up the tab as it often was doing.

I received some very strong disagreement from bikers. So I wrote that I was surprised about receiving any reaction and wondered who the bikers found to read my column to them.

That, of course, only escalated matters. It was a learning experience about not belittling any group. My wife made me promise to let her read my columns before sending them.

One election season early in my career I remarked abput how quickly the negative campaigning had started. I noted that I had heard two ladies leaving church commenting that their local legislator had been picked up for drunken driving.

The story seemed so outlandish to me that I guess I assumed it needed no explaining that the gossip was totally false.

It did need explaining. The lawmaker was hurt. I was totally embarrassed and learned never to assume that anything "goes without saying."


Ask for directions to the engineering department. There are many joys in journalism. You often are where the action is. Press passes get you to the front of the line. Your co-workers are often stimulating.

But for your future happiness, do a little research., a national job rating company, recently placed newspaper reporter at the absolute bottom of 200 jobs.

Newspaper reporting rated low in work environment, pay and stress. Hiring outlook was a negative number as newspapers are cutting back staff.

But some people, especially in my age range, still love to spread a newspaper in front of them and turn the pages. And they need newspaper reporters. So if the job turns you on, work hard and make As.


Research? Research? Who said anything about research? I make the stuff up.


Since Mike Royko of the Chicago Tribune died, it is Ned Cantwell. Oh, I know you think I'm making that up too. But those are two people whose columns I am always eager to read. Royko created an alter ego, Slats Grobnik to help illustrate points he was making. Cantwell has phone conversations with a similar character who creates much fun.

I also like the well thought out columns of Sherry Robinson, a New Mexico writer.

That will wrap it up, Ned.