Berkeley, Ca. Daily Planet Reporter Seeks An Identity

by Steed Dropout
December 10, 2012

In an earlier article, here, I promised a piece on the hometown paper that awakened me from Rip-Van-Winkleism, my metaphor for a 35-year drop-out period in my Berkeley life.

Now here’s a promise, I gladly hope to fulfill.

For me this is timely, because I have had to change this site’s name from to just plain old No big deal?

My highly-polished Web Designer, Michael M, (MRM Web Design), likes Berkeley Reporter better than its sesquipedalianistic predecessor. But giving up that name sent me into one of my Steed-like downward trajectories.

You see, I love the Planet, as you would love the mechanism which breathed life into you.

Friends, who are not on-line, blame the Planet for not being available in print, or failing to grow new readers, failing to promote itself, or sometimes reading like the Congressional Record.

Feel the love. I met the master of the manor at the Med, where we discussed our cop problems. Busman was visited by Berkeley's finest, and we both were reduced to laughter. Cops can be funnier than us. View from Southwest quadrant of People's Park. Background, historic Maybeck designed Christian Science church across from Camp Hate. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Berkeley Mayor, Tom Bates, (known here as “Master Bates,” just another sacrilege in a town which jests about self-love, just to jape a pol) may have driven a stake through the heart of the Planet when he re-assigned Berkeley’s official announcement ads from the Planet to his alma mater, U.C. Berkeley and its daily.

But the Planet’s scrappy editor, Becky O’Mally took the paper digital, which though it has other local news competitors, is a pretty good rag, according to me, even if it is now a virtual reality.

In fact, although I contributed to the hard-copy Planet, it is in its virtual, resurrected guise, that I ripened, will probably rot, and assuredly die in my upcoming senescence. Check the Planet for my latest rotted piece.

But herein lies the Hamletian rub.


Nothing seems more descriptive to me than, and it might have won an award for its length alone. I thought it would make me seem more than just another blogger. But, alas, I did not have permission to use it, and I’ve slimmed down to Berkeley Reporter.

Anywhere else in journalism, I would have been fired for my blunder, if it was a blunder.

For days, I expected the other boot to fall.

While I anguished over other names I liked, such as South-side Beat, or Lurid Tales of the City, etc., I used my trepidatious state to question my very existence.

The people in People's Park restore a portion of what the university allegedly ravaged when it stepped up its regular trimming in the park. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Was I a Berkeley Daily Planet reporter at all? Was I even a reporter? Perhaps I was misrepresenting myself. And then along came the wisenheimer cops in People’s Park, who questioned my credentials.

Fortunately for you, dear reader, I long ago accepted Descarte’s assurance that I was alive, at least when I thought. Ever since, I’ve thought my way through life. I did a lot of it for those 35 dropout years.

But it’s one thing to exist, quite another to be a reporter. Reporters are ciphers, or flies on the wall, through which info is spread from our keyboard’s to your minds — giving you a Descartean existence.

I would like to be a better reporter, but fail more than not, for many of the reasons you will be reading about here. If you mistrust reporters, you’ve come to the right site. Let me make you right in your mistrust.

I always introduce myself to story sources, or in phone calls, as Ted Friedman, from the Berkeley Daily Planet. I’m calling from my cramped living room, and the Planet has no offices, no staff but its loyal volunteer free-lancers, including me.

But, hey, I feel lucky to be allowed to practice journalism at all. Reporters are an endangered species, especially feature writers, like me, who are expendable in the media wash of free on-line entertainment.

Don’t you have something better to watch on TV right now?

“At” the Planet, I have had the opportunity to do breaking local news, features, commentaries, film, theater, art reviews, and of course, america’s most unsung journalism genre — the obituary. I’ve revived a lost photojournalism career in the on-line (only) Planet.

After university's hyper trim of People's Park flora to make surveillance easier, these regulars have nothing to hide. Photo by Ted Friedman.

I like to think of the Planet as a “huffier Huffington Post.”


You may recall that, as Wizard of Oz ends, its troubled foursome, Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the heartless Tin Man, and the ethereal Scarecrow, are awarded phony id’s (diplomas) by the Wizard, who suggests that academic degrees are also phony.

My wizard is a good friend at Berkeley’s renowned East-Bay Media Center. He’s produced quite a few press passes in his thirty years as a documentarian, and media educator. Perhaps, I will be lulled into self-recognition, as were the Oz folk.

All that will remain to accomplish is my editor’s signature. She has offered to sign such a document.

I can bet that the first cop to see this “stinking badge” [“Treasure of Sierra Madre: We don’t need no stinking badges”], will laugh in my face. But for me, the badge will breath life into my empty shell.

That badge, and my by-line in the next issue of the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Steed Dropout uses his alter ego, Ted Friedman’s by-line, in his beloved Berkeley Daily Planet.

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