by Jordan Green

News and views from inside the media bubble

The Rhino’s last stand

When YES! Weekly launched in 2005, it seemed, much to our chagrin, that the Rhinoceros Times virtually embodied Greensboro with editorialized rundowns of government meetings that brimmed with community distrust, parochialism, antagonism towards government and public servants, and other dyspepsia. They undercut our ad sales and lorded scoops over us the first couple years. With a longrunning series by writer Jerry Bledsoe that stoked distrust of black police officers and an imagined cabal of black power brokers and politically correct minions, the Rhino put the News & Record and YES! Weekly on the defensive by forcing us to customize our reporting to address what we considered misinformation and hyperbole.

There was a time when local politicians like Mary Rakestraw and Mike Barber seemed to cater to the Rhino’s agenda to corral the votes of the newspaper’s avid readers and as an insurance policy against Editor John Hammer’s disapproval.

They threw great parties, or so we heard. Was there an element of jealousy?

Maybe a little.

They made us work our asses off to get better, even good, at what we do.

A lot has changed in eight years, but the Rhino had made an indelible impression on Greensboro long before we arrived on the scene.

So it was as if the plates of the earth were heaving into a new alignment when William Hammer, the former publisher of the Rhino and brother of the editor, posted on his Facebook page shortly before noon on Tuesday: “It is a sad day for Guilford County knowing that the paper which did such a wonderful job of keeping us informed will no longer continue in that crucial role. Thank you, John Hammer. Goodbye Rhino.”

It’s sad when any newspaper closes, and some of the Rhino’s woes reflected the structural challenges of the industry.

“Newspapers got hit with the double whammy of the recession and increasing competition from the internet,” John Hammer wrote in an article posted online on Tuesday, “and we join a long list of newspapers that have closed their doors.” No matter what your politics, you have to feel bad for the reporters and sales reps who didn’t learn that their jobs had been wiped out until just hours before the public announcement.

In the end, one inescapable conclusion remains: Greensboro is a different city today.