Join me Friday morning at 9am on KBOO Community Radio for a special tribute to local journalist Dave Mazza, who passed away this week after a long battle with cancer. Dave inspired many young reporters in his work at The Alliance newspaper and thousands of listeners as the talk radio co-host of KBOO's Voices from the Edge alongside JoAnn A Hardesty. We'll highlight Dave's years of activism for police accountability and elections reform, especially his investigative report that helped topple a police chief and the voting reform ballot initiative that almost won. Tune in and celebrate a friend and compatriot, Friday April 27 at 9am on the Mighty 90.7FM, KBOO Radio in Portland, 91.9 FM in Hood River and 104.3 FM Corvallis/Albany. Also tune in on the KBOO App for Android and for Iphone..
My beloved colleague Dave Mazza has entered hospice care after a long illness, and I wanted to take a few lines to talk about how he helped change the course of Portland history.
As so often happens in my town, we had just hired a new police chief -- this one was named Mark Kroeker. As the chief was introduced to the city his strengths were trumpeted to the skies, like they always are.
But in a funky little Southeast office, Dave had become the editor of the Portland Alliance newspaper, a monthly founded by a coalition of grassroots activist groups in the 1970s to cover social issues because the mainstream media did not (media nerds: this was straight up solutions journalism before there was a name for it. Full disclosure: I too was an editor of the Portland Alliance newspaper. Frankly, a lot of what we did was critiquing the movement, and it would be useful today if it were still around.).
The year was 1999, so Dave picked up that newfangled thing called the Internet and just googled the heck out of Mark Kroeker (“google” was not a term at the time). Dave found bizarre audio recordings of Kroeker talking about parenting and saying some unacceptable things. The Los Angeles Times wrote about it, along with context on the other two “strikes” against Kroeker and more. He was forced out within two and a half years and immediately took a job leading “peacekeepers” in Liberia.
This short era was a turning point in law enforcement history for our town, because Kroeker essentially militarized the Portland police. It was under him that the “robocop”-style of riot police was created that plagues the city today. Dave covered it like a blanket.
Dave also went on to challenge the city’s electoral system, to paint gorgeous landscapes and to co-host “Voices from the Edge” Talk Radio with JoAnn Hardesty on KBOO Community Radio for many years. I want to thank Dave Mazza for his contribution to our city and encourage others to step up and use the tools of journalism to make our world a better place.
I have spent years working in newsrooms where Facebook was the tail that wagged the dog -- brilliant journalists worked their fingers to the bone on impactful reporting, then crossed fingers that the social media they’d spent so many hours kitting out with “SEO” would bring readers. Sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t; now Facebook has been caught with its data in the wrong cookie jar after already being punished for messing around with the cookie jar. What does that mean for your new big idea about citizen journalism? It looks like the biggest platform for small media projects is running around with its head cut off for now. Meanwhile go ahead and check out the live spectacle of Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional grilling here.