White Noise: News and happenings from inside the media bubble

by Brian Clarey, Amy Kingsley and Jordan Green

Leavening of the Loaf Fans of the Chicago Reader, a 36-year-old alt-weekly in the City of Big Shoulders, railed in an online forum after their paper, along with the Washington City Paper, was acquired by the Tampa Bay, Fla-based Creative Loafing chain, which also has papers in Sarasota, Fla., Atlanta and Charlotte. Reader fans and Loaf detractors alike loaded the comment thread with barbs like: “The Loafing site is cluttered and ugly. Their calendar listings are truncated and difficult to navigate,” (softdog); “get ready chicago reader: you are no longer a newspaper but instead officially a ‘news product,'” (not so sure); and “Creative Loafing is a disgrace, an embrassment [sic] to Tampa and to journalism. Unimaginative, inept and ethically challenged. Apologies, Chicago, for what Tampa has wrought,” (Longtime Tampa Resident). One CL-Tampa employee, Get on the Bus, defended his employer, saying, “I can tell you that enriching lives and strengthening communities isn’t just a slogan. It’s what we do.” GOTB was snidely mocked for this sentiment exactly two comments later. – BC

Can you hear Google now? On Tuesday, the FCC set the ground rules for an auction of public airwaves worth about $15 billion, and…. Are you asleep yet? This is important because Silicon Valley upstart Google is trying the rewrite the rules for cell phone providers. Companies like Verizon and AT&T are eyeing the waves with the notion of expanding services like video and internet, but Google wants at least some of the space set aside for an open network that would be available to anyone on any server. The Washington Post points up the ways in which Google is using the conflict to raise its Washington profile. However, the article acknowledges that Google’s nascent lobbying efforts have nothing on the legislative budgets of telecom royalty like Verizon and Ma Bell. – AK

Our favorite YouTube/CNN presidential debate moments: The snowman’s lament about climate change The stylized Tennessee rednecks who asked if the clamor for Gore’s candidacy “[H]urt y’all’s feelings” “The Taxes Song” The guy who punctuated his question about Social Security tax caps with, “What’s up with that?” Barack Obama to Chris Dodd, after suggesting that everybody on stage could afford to work for minimum wage because they already have money: “You’re doing all right, Chris.” The Rev. Reggie Longcrier of Hickory, who asked an incisive question about the fallacy of religious justification for denying civil rights and got the same old shuck and jive for his trouble – BC

Copter crash Last week, two television helicopters collided in the air over Phoenix while trying to capture footage of a police pursuit. Four men died, two seasoned TV newsmen and two pilots. No one on the ground was injured. The incident has inspired hand-wringing among industry types, some of whom have publicly questioned the wisdom of spending resources and endangering reporters for car chase stories. While federal aviation investigators piece together the events leading up to the tragedy, news organizations in southern Arizona will be doing a little soul searching. And saying goodbye to colleagues who were, by all accounts, committed professionals and wonderful coworkers. – AK

Ton Snyder, RIP He stuttered. He smoked. He rambled on and on, sometimes overshadowing his interview subjects. He laughed a psychotic machine-gun laugh that sometimes gave guests pause. He famously fawned over Dolly Parton, endured 12 minutes of aggressive indifference from Johnny Rotten and got the last televised interview with John Lennon. And he was one of the best interviewers to work in the talk show genre. Tom Snyder, working for a number of different programs in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, was an interviewer who was more than a desk and a couch. He reveled in research and backstory, and he got past the canned answers, hackneyed bits and PR flackery that passes for interview on much of today’s talk shows. Also, he liked model trains. He will be missed. – BC

Our industry in crisis? “Neon” Deion Sanders, once a famed two-sport athlete and fashion inspiration to aspiring pimps everywhere, was eager to weigh in on the national censure of Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback who faces federal dogfighting charges. For his vehicle he chose his weekly column in the Fort Meyers, Fla. News-Press, which he has been penning since January. Unfortunately, a pre-existing contract with the NFL Network dictates that the network (and, by extension, the league) has exclusive rights to Sanders’ “appearance and opinions.” NFL Network Managing Editor Thomas George, in a dispatch to the News-Press Sports Editor Ed Reed, said of the column, “It cannot run.” And another voice is quelled by vested interests. – BC