Speeding on

Like so many cars through Longview’s camera-enforced school zones.

Man, did that story ever strike a nerve. Anytime you can write “the city quietly…” does anything, of course, you’re going to want people to listen.

Not that the city didn’t point some fingers after it was revealed the cameras’ wiggle room for those going slightly over 20 mph had been lowered, bringing in seven times as many $124+ tickets as last year’s average.

Before hundreds of “I swear I wasn’t speeding” stories overflowed my voicemail, I was the go-to reporter for the 35th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption this year, which was a bit of an honor considering it was The Daily News that took home the Pulitzer for its coverage of the eruption all those years ago.

Visitors get a good view of Mount St. Helens — free of its usual curtain of fog and clouds— at Johnston Ridge Observatory on Monday morning during the 35th anniversary of the 1980 eruption.
Visitors get a good view of Mount St. Helens — free of its usual curtain of fog and clouds— at Johnston Ridge Observatory on Monday morning during the 35th anniversary of the 1980 eruption. Photo by Brooks Johnson

I talked with a survivor of the blast, took a look at the mountain May 18 and even live-tweeted the eruption in real time.

Yeah, we own that mountain.

For something completely different, here’s a David vs. Goliath story from a little brewery in Wahkiakum County that was forced by “big bully beer” to change its name.

Then there’s the curious case of the pirate plumbing that led to a $5,000 water bill.

And here’s a story I thought would surely spur many to action, to cause a crowded ballot for elections this fall — the strikingly low number of women in local government.

But all four Longview Council candidates are running unopposed — even a newcomer.

“Elections are expensive,” one councilman told me.

So is apathy.

Sound Start to the Year

This week I was asked to churn out a quick review of Lavoy, the Spokane-via-Alaska synth pop group in Missoula tonight, and a complete reversal of that description in my general praise of British producer Burial. While the former had better criticism (at times I just wanted to help the band more than the reader), I had good fun in a few lines in the latter. Go forth and read Brooks!

On the Headwall front, Facebook has a new algorithm, and I think it targets scheduled posts, especially those with links. In other words, Facebook wants money for exposure. So if you’ve been missing my clever posts, blame Mr. Zuckerberg. I’ll be decoding the way into your feed all month. Or year, if I must.

Oh, and the newest issue is available online, in addition to an e-edition I’ve linked to in the cover below. Cheers.

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Sharing Secrets

That may seem a bit misleading in the year of Edward Snowden et al. But I quite literally would like to share with you Secrets — the 2013 winter edition of Montana Journalism Review. My story (and graphic) can be found on Page 59 (61 if going by Issuu’s navigation). I looked into a topic I’ve long been drawn to, anonymous campaign spending, and how it might play out for the 2014 race to replace Sen. Max Baucus (which just got a bit more interesting).

Of course, may I also recommend heading straight to mjr.jour.umt.edu to sign up to receive a free copy in the post.

For those in western Montana, the new issue of Headwall has cometh, so pick up your favorite outdoors quarterly for free wherever fine things are found, or stop by the site. And definitely follow @MontanaHeadwall. Let me know how my tweets are doing.

Cheers, happy New Year.

An Absence, An Acceptance

My how time passes when you’re getting married. That’s right, on Sept. 7, 2013, I signed up for a lifetime of happiness. But let’s not focus on the details, this is a professional blog, right?

I had a bit of time off for the fantastic fete, which I had built in to the end of my time here in Idaho Falls. Turns out, it’s not going to end: I’ve been hired on as the newest member of the copy desk at the Post Register. They liked my Midwestern work ethic, of course, and my steady improvements in pagination. Plus, an opening appeared at just the right time. So stay tuned for even more swell designs as well as my renewed drive to get a few bylines a month, wherever they will fit. I’m lucky to be in a newsroom when every other day massive cuts are announced across the media. So I’m going to take every opportunity I can for as long as I can.

Though I’m a bit across the border, I’ll still be the online editor for Montana Headwall, conjuring social media posts and properly aligning new content (and occasionally creating it). I’ve been reading up on social media strategy, but still find some luck involved for maximum exposure. If anyone has an accurate algorithm, I’d love to see it. Or perhaps I’m in the process of making it?

Like Headwall on Facebook, follow me @readbrooks on Twitter and watch for some upcoming words to help you read Brooks.