Posted by: vanhoff | May 24, 2009

Tallying chronic homelessness The article, written in February of 2007, states that the rise and influx of the homeless population will all but increase as time passes. “Hundreds of single men and women and families are homeless in Rutherford County; dozens of them are chronically homeless and rest their heads at night on makeshift cardboard beds and in tents,” stated Erin Edgemon of The Murfreesboro Post. “It is a never-ending problem,” Christine Huddleston, who has operated the Room in the Inn Shelter for more than 20 years said, “You have to face reality; there has been homelessness all my life, and there will always be homelessness.” The impact of this article states the ever-growing problem that Murfreesboro will face in the future, especially within these difficult times. “Tallying chronic homelessness.” Edgemon, Erin The Murfreesboro Post. 4 February, 2007 18 February, 2009

Posted by: vanhoff | May 17, 2009

My Tornado Story of 2009

Murfreesboro Devastated by Good Friday Tornados

By: Jon Van Hoff

      Murfreesboro, Tenn. – Two twisters sliced through Murfreesboro on Good Friday, killing two and injuring 42 people in Rutherford County. The battered residents waited for day light Saturday to dig out from a “direct hit” that flattened homes and businesses, including several large businesses off Broad Street.

            “The debris that was caught up in the funnel was enough to make anyone run for cover,” said Bob Warren of Warren Engineering in Murfreesboro. Warren, who helped with the late March tornado that struck Murfreesboro off Northwest Broad Street, has stayed busy working with several homes near the Blackman community that sustained heavy damage due to the heavy wind and hail. 

            “All I can say is that I am thankful that I am alive, and aware of my surroundings when the storm hit,” said Tammy Baskette of the Deerfield subdivision near Interstate 24. Baskette, who works with the Rutherford County Sheriffs Department, and was off duty when the storm hit. “After I knew the storm had passed, I sent my children to Mrs. Reese’s house just up the road. Her house had no visible damage, so I began to knock on every door gathering kids whose parents were at work and sending them up to Mrs. Reese’s house,” said Baskette.

“My biggest concern was the kids and my next door neighbor who was nine months pregnant and alone,” said Baskette. As the pounding of hammers ricocheted throughout the neighborhood during the interview, she said, “I am thankful for Mrs. Reese and our entire community. I did what I was trained to do, and that is to save lives.”

For 23.5 miles, the EF4 tornado cut through Murfreesboro with winds packing speeds of 166 mph to 200 mph. Roger Allen, director of the Rutherford County Emergency Management Services, said the tornado damaged over 818 homes, with 111 of those homes destroyed beyond repair. For nearly 36 minutes, the storm raged through the Blackman community crossing I-24, and moving through the Compton Road area northeast of Murfreesboro, some five miles away.

A separate EF1 tornado tore through the southern end of Murfreesboro about the same time. However, no severe injuries were reported and most of the structural damage was minor.

“I was leaving the Target shopping center off Old Fort Parkway, when it looked liked the Earth stood still,” said Marshall Hodge of Murfreesboro. “Over 50 cars were pulled in the Target parking lot with many just getting out seeing which way the storm was coming.”

Gary Neeley, a resident and homeowner in the Deerfield subdivision near Blackman, was in Mississippi showing horses when his son called stating that his subdivision was hit by the tornado. “I can only say that it took me two days to find out whether or not my house was still standing. For the Tennessee Highway Patrol did not allow me to enter until Sunday when debris was cleared off the roads,” said Neeley. Mr. Neeley’s home suffered minor damage to the roof and chimney top.

During the interview with Gary Neeley and Tammy Baskette, one could not overlook the damage that still surrounded the area. Contractors zoomed by in trucks as construction equipment was in full use as workers hurried to finish before the rain came down. “I am a lucky, vey lucky man,” said Neeley as he looked at his house still standing while other homes lie in shambles. “I have suffered roof damage, and will be getting new shingles put on next week, but again I am lucky.”

Sadly, two lives were lost during the storm on Good Friday. Kori Bryant, 30, and her 9-week-year-old daughter, Olivia, died outside their home at the corner of Haynes Drive and Sulphur Springs Road. Olivia was strapped in the car seat for safety reasons; however, Olivia was found 200 yards away from the home stated rescuers who were able to retrieve the body. Neighbors and friends say Bryant’s husband, John, also suffered injuries. John Bryant was taken to Middle Tennessee Medical Center for treatment. He was in critical condition Friday night, and flown to Vanderbilt Medical Center.

The estimated cost to businesses and residents is at $41.8 million. Mayor Tommy Bragg has asked for state and federal assistance and is asking that all insurance companies cooperate with the citizens of Murfreesboro during this hard time. Governor Phil Bredesen visited the affected areas on Saturday and said he would seek federal assistance. “My thoughts and prayers are with them. It’s very sad,” Bredesen said.

The EF4 tornado left a path of destruction and displaced many residents of Murfreesboro. This is 28th tornado to have hit the Rutherford County area since 1950 when the National Weather Service began keeping records. However, this is the first killer tornado to hit Rutherford County.

Posted by: vanhoff | May 3, 2009

News Orginizations and Ethics/ Contests

News organizations for some time have used their checkbooks to show community involvement, yet many feel that this should be limited to the editorial pages. Some news organizations own pieces of downtown hotels, some help restore historical sites. Others revitalize areas near the newspaper offices or finance convention centers. It is all part of being good corporate citizens, and when the Tennessean began a contest to win $500 for an essay, one could vie that the Tennessean is vesting its community interests by giveaways within the Nashville area.

            However, no matter how big or small the involvement is within the papers community any guideline to protect the reporter who is covering the company just underscores the fact that this story is treated differently. Reporters cannot report on their bosses’ financial dealings without a stake any more than they could report dispassionately on their family’s financial dealings. There is a conflict and it is enhanced in companies where reporters hold shares of the stock. Now they, themselves, are the owners on whom they are reporting. Being open with the public about the company’s financial involvements does not change the fact that they ought not be there in the first place.

            Stories about in-house financial concerns often get special handling, which only compounds the problem. For example, accuracy is of huge concerns to newspapers. Everyone thinks that every story should be accurate, but publishers get especially nervous about company stories. If you cannot get it right about yourself, how can you get it correct about someone else, one may ask. The gloves go on with company stories long before they are edited. With other stories, reporters are expected to go with what they can find, however and whenever they can find it. However, with stories dealing with company financial involvement, reporters are put in the awkward situation of having too much access and information heard within the company is often off-limits. Reporters need to refrain from going with their special information if management is going to be open with the staff concerning in-house material.

            You cannot get around the problems of reporting on yourself. Publishers who believe they can are deluding themselves. The inherent conflict of interest is unfair to the reporters who must cover stories in which their companies are involved and to the community which gets the sanitized, company-approved version of events. For news organizations, being a good corporate citizen means you report on change. You do not create it.

            Thus, I will close stating the laws of journalism have had a tenuous and at times perverse relationship to ethics. The effect of negligence with the idea of law is to thwart the written expression of high aspirations and reward minimum standards of professional conduct. This is most certainly so in the case of ethics codes for journalists.

Posted by: vanhoff | February 24, 2009

A Visit with Vince Gill- True Country

Country Star Vince Gill Talks To MTSU

By Jon Van Hoff


            Monday night Vince Gill spoke to a packed crowd at the campus of MTSU for the Department of Recording Industry writer’s series. The veteran country singer-songwriter has been one of the most acclaimed, honored artists over the past two decades. He has won 17 Grammy awards, including two Best Country Song awards.

Gill became an honorary professor in the MTSU Department of Recording Industry by the chairman of the recording industry last night. He performed only one song, “The Key to Life,” during the hour and a half event. After he sang, he told the audience, “Being a great musician isn’t just knowing what to play, it’s knowing what not to play,” he said.

Gill shied away from some questions clutching to his acoustic guitar, but opened up as the night grew on.  “For songwriters and musicians, words should be the paint to a picture, he said, which makes some things more real than the way they are seen,” he said.

After he spoke, swarms of fans collapsed to the stage for a meet and greet. However, many became stifled as a young elementary girl asked Gill to play a duet. For country fans and recording enthusiasts, Gill set a lasting impression on many with his words and advice.

Posted by: vanhoff | February 24, 2009

Obama and Ethics in Media

Most people have not noticed, but it is getting more difficult to recognize reality within photographic journalism. While the mass public soaks up newspaper and broadcast news reports which show stark photography, those of us who know what can be done with today’s software are taking a more careful look. A recent photo during President Barack Obama’s campaign in early 2008 disgusted many as it shows him quite clearly smoking a cigarette. Most people looked at the story it told, but I also saw the affects of over-sharpening and was alerted that the image had been manipulated. As a journalist myself, I have come to scrutinize the images as much as the content. The recent news frenzy over some of the distasteful events in Iraq has made my skepticism even sharper. I have to ask who makes the decisions on how to edit the photo or tape to tell their version of the story, and who decides how many times to show the same photos.

All journalists who use the printed or displayed image to help reinforce a story need to follow a hard line on ethics and honesty. It is bad enough that some events take place. However, to turn and put political spin on the images makes them that much worse. For example, the photograph of Barack Obama smoking a cigarette during his campaign clearly negates ethical standards. For he has admitted to being a smoker, and before he launched his presidential campaign he resolved to quit the habit. By his own admission, he has had a few lapses. Nevertheless, there are hardly any photos of him smoking, largely because his campaign makes great efforts to stop such photos getting out, fearing negative public reaction. For the photograph shown in early 2008 of Obama smoking clearly demonstrates a lack of ethical standards demonstrated by the publishers of the photo. It is entirely within the scope of photojournalism to make color balance corrections, correction of lens distortion, focus adjustments, glare elimination and other modifications considered presentational changes. For the sake of representing honest and accurate information, the editor should avoid anything that will change the actual event or scene as it was captured by the camera. One should never change the image in a way that creates a misleading impression of the events, participants or context.

            Yet the issue was Obama smoking, and many presidents and presidential candidates have smoked. Should we write up how often they drink as well? No; but the real issue is that the aforementioned photo by an anonymous digital photographer placed false light and context on Obama creating a stir within the media and online communities. Therefore, any change to a news photo is a violation of that moment, thus a lie. Big or small, any lie damages your credibility. Kwame Ross took the original photo, the one without him having a cigarette, on Aug. 3, 2004 while then-State Senator Obama met with representatives at the University of Illinois while campaigning to become a U.S. Senator. In closing real photography gives us a window on history; for it allows us to be present at the great events of our times and the past. Photography gets its power from the fact that it represents exactly what the photographer saw through the medium of his lens. The raw reality it depicts, the action, dilemma or discourse comes alive. Therefore, when depicting false light to a subject, ones credibility will be lost with it as well.

Posted by: vanhoff | July 3, 2008

Free Speech is America’s Lifeline

Americans grapple with information overload due impart to the invention of the Internet, thus causing one to mix truth with falsehood. Over the last twenty years, Americans gave way to a technology that some regard as the “Information Super Highway,” allowing for the endless stream of news, blogs, and opinions that shape and mold Americans and the world beyond. However, this is causing many to disseminate and control the flow of information one receives; and with the onslaught of cell phones, e-mails and instant messaging attention spans are all but fracturing. Therefore, to compensate due to the overload many have what some are calling, “My Times Syndrome.”

The New York Times started “My Times” as a program allowing users of their website to garnish news that is of less importance, and create an account suitable for one’s needs. However, by using such a program it all but reinforces existing attitudes and prejudices pertaining to political, economical and social beliefs. The saying, “If it bleeds, it leads,” has not only enraptured journalists, but also the user of such programs, thereby reinforcing this syndrome.

Posted by: vanhoff | July 2, 2008

Free Speech is Never Free

Free speech has been an ancient struggle centered on intellectual freedom and the search for truth. John Milton’s Areopagitica laid the foundation denouncing censorship and helping to establish democratic right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Milton argued that instead of church and state imposing their censorship, society should allow a free and open market of ideas in belief that truth would ultimately prevail. He defended the free circulation of ideas to be essential for one’s moral and intellectual development, and that any attempt to prevent any false content is to undermine the power one will find within truth. However, controls upon communication media, that nonetheless promote censorship have advanced for at least three reasons throughout time; including monetary profit, message control reinforcement and technological necessity.

            In 1644, Milton believed and hoped that truth would ultimately prevail, and that by letting ideas compete, truth will inevitably emerge. Public discussion, as Milton states, is an important vehicle for the dissemination of ideas and ones thirst for knowledge. Learning, thus, is accompanied by disagreement and diversity of ones viewpoints. For many of the great philosophers of yesterday and today believe that free speech and the First Amendment protect ideas, therefore truth will win out. Today, a vast majority of the world use the Internet, which is the leading tool that allows for intellectual debate, news, and opinion to enlighten one’s quest for truth. A survey however, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, found that Americans are no better informed today than twenty years ago.

Posted by: vanhoff | June 10, 2008


Nothing more to comment on the fact that as an educated college student at

a school of 26,000… Most would agree- SPIKE SHUT YOUR FACE

What a fucking racist! I truly hate this mother-fucker! Get off your high horse you piece of shit.

You act like a punk ass who needs his ass kicked!

Posted by: vanhoff | May 14, 2008

Technology and the Reproductive System: Part 2

People who seek assisted births however believe that it is their right to pursue such practices. They are comfortable in knowing that they have chosen the appropriate egg for the right mother, and that cost is not a factor when pursuing such practices. Currently, assisted reproduction is not covered under most insurance plans. Therefore, the general tax-paying public usually will soak up the cost, thus creating fear and resentment for such practices. The general public fears that the types of reproductive technology will soon consume a vast majority of births, and that babies who are conceived naturally will be somehow inferior to those who have had technological births.

My opinion on the issue is simple; it is not natural. I believe that by producing techno-babies will create an inferiority complex for those who have conceived naturally. The facts given in the video and other studies show that one-third of all reproductive pregnancies are compromised. Various procedures now make it possible to intervene not only in order to assist, but also to dominate the processes of procreation. These techniques can enable man and woman to “take in hand his own destiny”, but they also expose him to the temptation to go beyond the limits of nature. I sympathize with those who can not reproduce on their own; however adoption would be the most sensible and logical way to raise a life this great Earth. When technology has created the perfect baby, the essence of natural birth will soon become extinct.


Posted by: vanhoff | May 13, 2008

Technology and the Reproductive System

Technology and the Reproductive System


Making Babies, a documentary film, takes a critical look at the reproductive technology that has raised important questions surrounding the use of the costly, time-consuming, and perhaps dangerous processes of in vitro fertilization and related technologies. The video also questions ethical issues that challenge individuals confronted with their decision to use assisted reproductive technologies. Couples have turned to reproductive technology either due to physical ailments, disease, and/ or infertile reproductive problems. Other reasons include same-sex couples desiring a child or a mother seeking the perfect baby from the perfect egg. Reasons aside, the process and technology now employed for reproduction has sparked major debates questioning its validity.

People believe that the desire to reproduce is one that is guaranteed, thus leading physicians and laboratories across the globe to seek the perfect technology in the quest of best reproductive process. Couples turn to technology for a multiple of reasons. Largely, women and men seek assistance to due disease, reproductive problems, and/or past medical conditions affecting the mothers. Other conditions such as diabetes, heart problems or severe high blood pressure may prevent an otherwise fertile woman from carrying a baby to term. Therefore many seek to have a child through technology, sadly though one-third of all reproductive births are failures. Hence, people begin to express their legal and ethical opinions when compromised births occur from reproduction.

Currently, there is no specific legislation on artificial insemination. However, the ethical issue raised by many is simple, technology is not natural. Interestingly in the video, the physicians and those involved in the reproductive industry were not opposed nor moved by any ethical issue that might otherwise jeopardize their business. The vast majority of Americans including those worldwide believe that birth is natural, and that to manipulate birth using gene splicing or manipulation in any manner is compromising ones faith, their higher power, and/or natural order of the human species.

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