White Noise: News from inside the media bubble
Must we pick a side?
“Rhino Triumphs in Klan lawsuit,” blared a headline in the Oct. 11 issue of The Rhinoceros Times. Three days later, Thomas Robb, national director of the Arkansas-based Knights Party, fired off an e-mail to local media outlets headlined “Rhino Times Lies Again.” What both sides agree on is that there was a settlement. As Editor John Hammer sees it, it’s a victory for the conservative Greensboro weekly: “The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan have promised to do what they can to keep people from using The Rhino Times, or any other newspaper, to distribute their hate-filled, despicable, racist, contemptible, cheap, tawdry newsletter. In return for that The Rhinoceros Times has agreed to drop its lawsuit against the Knights of the KKK.” Not so, says Robb. “Now they are claiming that they forced the Knights Party not to put their literature inside editions of The Rhino Times, which is something they never did and have no intentions of ever doing…. The Rhino Times could just as likely claimed [SIC] they forced the Knights Party to obey traffic laws. I suspect that Knights Party literature will continually be placed around sections of old discarded newspapers in the future as has been done in the past and the settlement agreement does not forbid anyone from doing so.” For anyone who wants to get to the bottom of it, Robb offers to release a copy of the settlement agreement upon request. We’re done with it.
Appetite for artistic destruction
Youtube.com removed the video of four neo-Nazis ravaging an Andres Serrano exhibition in Lund, Sweden with axes and crowbars. The self-appointed morality police wrecked the controversial photographer’s work, and then set the shaky footage to a death-metal soundtrack. Over top of the music, the Nazis hollered, “We don’t approve of this!” This isn’t the first time Serrano’s work has met with disapproval of the blunt-instrument kind. An exhibition of “Piss Christ,” the photograph that raised the ire of Sen. Jesse Helms, and pictures of the Ku Klux Klan inspired the wrath of two teenagers in Australia who claimed to be angered by its racist sentiment. Hmmm… perhaps Serrano has a future in negotiating peace treaties among extremist youth.
Does this count as a crisis?
I snickered more than a little when I found out that the newspaper I grew up reading, Newsday, realized that three Pulitzer Prizes they won between 1964 and 1974 were stolen when they saw them auctioned off on eBay in three separate sales for $15,500. Top brass at the paper assumed the medals, which are made of solid gold, were where they always were: in a safe at the company’s Melville, NY headquarters. But nobody had checked on them, apparently, since the Carter administration, and nobody had the keys. They drilled into the safe to find nothing but cobwebs where the medals had been. Have I mentioned they’re made of solid, 14-karat gold? “It’s amazing that a newspaper which has been awarded the highest prize the Pulitzer committee can give has not properly safeguarded its Pulitzer medals,” said former Editor Bob Greene, who figured heavily in the ’70 and ’74 prizes.” On Friday federal agents recovered the medals, but they have not been authenticated as of press time.
The uncomfortable silence
News & Record editor John Robinson raised an excellent point in his post-primary blog, one that I’ve been pondering for a while. He asked, in a rhetorical kind of way, whether the newspaper should even devote resources to covering local elections when only 7 percent of eligible voters even bother to vote. We covered the elections extensively, too, and I think reaching the unengaged electorate is a critical part of our mandate. But obviously we didn’t do that. So I’m asking you, nonvoters what we can do to make municipal elections more compelling to you. I have some ideas, but honestly we could use a little feedback. What do you want to know about the candidates? The issues? What is important to you?