WHITE NOISE: News and Happenings from Inside the Media Bubble
News & Record layoffs
It’s a ghoulish business writing about someone else’s misfortune. Those of us who make a living doing just that set up necessary defenses against this essential truth. This week’s news that the Greensboro News & Record laid off 41 employees cracked our journalistic armor a little bit, particularly because we’ve worked alongside several of their reporters in city hall, at police headquarters and in other places journalists have been known to frequent. We wish all of the employees who’ve been let go – and all the ones left behind to pick up the pieces – the best as they move on to the next stage of their careers.
The plot thickens
Before news about the layoffs had even hit the wires, the White Noise media commentary collective had decided to bestow its kudos on Margaret Moffett Banks for her story on June 5 about Greensboro Coliseum director Matt Brown’s machinations regarding the old Canada Dry property. E-mails showed that Brown and Koury Corp. president Steve Showfety had been doing some major politicking to win council approval for the dubious purchase. Brown didn’t cross any legal lines in his effort to corral votes, but the e-mails certainly hint that city leaders care more about deepening the pockets of local execs than in spending public funds in a way that benefits the good citizens of Greensboro.
FCC bitch slap
A federal appeals court ruled on June 4 that the FCC cannot regulate “fleeting expletives,” the unplanned vulgarities that slip from the mouths of musicians, actors and the odd head of state on live television. The decision took FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (a native of the Tar Heel state) down a peg. Martin has, since his ascension to chair in 2005, prioritized the expansion of indecency regulation. To that end he has upped fines, created new classes of regulated speech, and has generally been on the warpath against any kind of broadcast naughtiness. At the same time he has been quietly dismantling the market regulations that prevented media monopolies. We didn’t think that cracking down on speech while facilitating the rise of super-corporations sounded like a great prescription for media vitality. It’s good to know the federal courts agree.
Hong Kong’s Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, which is responsible for censorship and labeling “obscene” material, received more than 2,000 complaints about a book which features numerous instances of rape, genocide, infanticide, mass murder, metaphorical bestiality, drug use, adultery, incest, misogyny, cannibalism and slavery. Complainants want this book to be labeled as “indecent” and sold only to those over 18 years of age. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But the book in question is the Bible, and was therefore deemed exempt from review by that nation’s censorship tribunal.
What’s in a name
If a journalist wanted to gain some insight into, say, how a local government official interacted with his homeowners association, one method might be to assume the same name as said government official. This hypothetical was proven correct when a recent series of e-mails exchanged by condominium owners at Historic Wafco Mills ended up in the inbox of YES! Weekly News Editor Jordan Green instead of the intended recipient, Guilford County Assistant District Attorney Jordan Green.
The shared name has caused unpleasantness in the past when the prosecutor was upbraided by his supervisor for moonlighting as an investigative journalist, and when the journalist’s anti-war activist friends learned they would be tried for a civil disobedience by one Jordan Green.
The controversy at Historic Wafco Mills centers on prosecutor Green’s efforts to negotiate with fellow condo owner Rich Mihans to resolve a dispute about the cost of fixing a water-damaged floor, without the knowledge of other members of the homeowners association board.
“I think the rest of the board is owed many answers from [board member Jay] Lennartson and Mr. Green on the poor management of this problem,” professional photographer and board member David Alford wrote on June 6. “Why the rest of the board was left out of the loop is unacceptable.”
Property manager Paul S. Watson, who was also involved in the negotiation efforts, fired back: “I think it is absolutely ludicrous that anyone would want to give Mihans any money whatsoever with receiving a release. That would be a totally stupid and fiscally irresponsible business move.”
Member Steve Flynn, a UNCG doctoral student, positioned himself as a neutral party, writing, “In my experience we’re all cracked vessels and are subject to making questionable judgments.” He suggested that future disputes might be avoided by strengthening policies for giving direction to the property manager, concluding, “Although I would rather stick pins in my eyes (ha ha) if I can help draft bylaw amendments that would help clarify, I volunteer before my service is up.”