White Noise: News Form Inside the Media Bubble
Last week, Greensboro police Lt. Brian James and officer Julius Fulmore filed suit against the Rhinoceros Times for defamation. At issue are statements in the paper to the effect that James and Fulmore hung out with prostitutes and faced investigation in a federal drug probe.
On the front page of its Thanksgiving issues, the Rhino dismissed the charges as “frivolous.” The case pits two of Greensboro’s most high-profile lawyers – Amiel Rossabi on the plaintiffs’ side and Seth Cohen for the defendant – against each other for a sum of $10,000.
The Rhino’s article omitted the allegedly defamatory statements about federal drug investigations, instead dwelling on a couple of minor facts also mentioned in the suit. As much as the paper wants to dismiss the James/Fulmore lawsuit as diversionary, it stands to reason that the case has some merit.
The Rhino can’t be thankful for this development, coming as it does on the heels of a reanimated suit against the Ku Klux Klan. I suppose Greensboro’s conservative weekly is just doing its part to fill the holiday coffers of local barristers.
Jerusalem, from both sides
With Palestinian-Israeli peace talks underway this week in Washington and Annapolis, Md., the Associated Press published an illuminating piece on the human dimensions of the crisis, zeroing in on one issue key to a final settlement of the long-running dispute – the fate of east Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to locate their capital. Interviews with seven residents, both Palestinian and Jewish, reveal the subtle interplay of day-to-day coexistence, and the piece suggests unintended complications would accompany almost any solution. Particularly poignant are the profiles of Palestinian ethnographer Ali Qleibo (“Over the years, Qleibo said, Israel has created a “symbiotic relationship based on political and economic inequality,’ with Arabs working in the Jewish part of the city in mainly menial jobs and living in neighborhoods that lack municipal services…. It’s a morally problematic situation,’ he said. “One can’t say we don’t want a Palestinian state, but one is puzzled. As it stands, we are guests of the state of Israel and in the interim we’ll remain beneficiaries of the system.'”) and Jewish hip-hop artist Shaanan Streett (“Against all odds, the city’s sects have achieved a kind of “imperfect coexistence,’ Streett said: “More people go to do their shopping in the Arab grocery store than go out and kill each other.'”)
Doing it for the money
We in journalism sometimes jokingly refer to ourselves as “whores” because we take information and unapologetically use it to further our publication’s and our own ends. But last month three staffers from an Orlando alt-weekly were actually brought up on prostitution charges because of ads their paper ran for years. Three advertising executives were arrested by the Municipal Bureau of Investigation at a job fair in a downtown Marriott – the finishing stroke of a project called “Operation Weekly Shame” – after accepting advertisements and money for prostitution services from two undercover female officers in a sting that began in 2005. They were subsequently indicted by a grand jury. And while we’re chuckling a bit at the prospect of ad reps getting arrested for prostitution – better watch it, McCauley – the prospect itself is disturbing. “Adult” ads are a longtime staple of alt-weekly advertising coffers. And though YES! Weekly does not run ads for escort services, a trend in this direction would put a hurt on almost every other alt-weekly in the nation, while at the same time swamping the “erotic” section of craigslist with thousands of horny females who have nowhere else to peddle their wares and would like to meet you today. The San Francisco-based craigslist, according to the Orlando MBI, is not legally a publishing company.