White Noise: News from inside the media bubble

by the YES! staff

Hatfields and McCoys

Cecil Bothwell, a former journalist fired last month by the Mountain Xpress, and the folks behind the Columbia City Paper in South Carolina are bringing their brand of left-leaning investigative journalism to Asheville. Bothwell posted the press release on his blog. The paper will start as a monthly featuring alt-weekly staples such as syndicated columnists Ted Rall and Dan Savage. By the spring, the publishers hope to be printing biweekly, according to the release. Bothwell is going to be manning the news desk, a development unlikely to please the bigwigs over at the Xpress. The situation has all the makings of an Appalachian family feud, alt-weekly style. – AK

Blogging losers will not go quietly

Whoever said history is written by the victors probably has not stumbled across the Greensboro blogosphere. Much of the interesting post-election chatter turned up on blogs maintained by losing city council candidates last week. Billy Jones, more commonly known as “the blogging poet,” announced his intentions to run again for mayor in 2009, saying he received more phone calls, e-mails and blog comments asking him to run next time than he did write-in votes (30) this time around. “While I could have done better, there was no way I could have run a successful campaign in less than one month,” Jones wrote on Nov. 9. “But we did force some issues and cause the PACs to spend more money than they were planning to spend.” Sandy Carmany, who lost a reelection bid in District 5 wrote on the same day: “I ran a positive campaign, highlighting key issues facing our city and presenting my approach to address them along with my strong experience and leadership skills. Apparently this straightforward approach was not sufficient to overcome my opponent’s attack strategy of gross distortions of my past statements coupled with those silly cartoons caricatures. Voters often decry the use of negative campaigning, but in this case, it seemed to work.” Joe Wilson, who lost in District 3, quickly rebounded on Nov. 7, announcing that he was forming a citizens watchdog group to monitor city government. “We will be watching to see who keeps their word to the public and who does not,” Wilson wrote. “We also have not forgotten the folks who said nothing quantifiable. We will just be pointing [to] every boneheaded move made by the status quo candidates. So congratulations on fooling the public-at-large; bad news for you is that we are still here.” – JG

Sexy back

Journalists love awards. All those framed certificates and boozy ceremonies lull us into the temporary fiction that people actually like us. Until now, journalists who work the sex beat have been excluded from these annual orgies of backpattery. The Center for Sex and Culture is seeking writers to honor with Sexies, awards that celebrate sex-positive journalism. From the website: “We’re seeking writers who present accurate information about sexual health and sexual diversity, who resist the assumption that sex-negative religious minorities represent the rest of the country’s values, and who give news events involving sexual subcultures enough context and background that their readers can get the whole picture.” Unlike most awards, readers can nominate writers too. Visit to submit your pick. – AK

Mailer no more

Prolific writer, fighter, drinker and womanizer Norman Mailer passed this weekend in Manhattan. He was 84. And though he was probably best known as a novelist – he wrote The Naked and the Dead when he was just 25 years old – I discovered him in a college journalism class where his muscular prose, cantankerous ways and penchant for the grittier side of life made me into a cheap emulator and unabashed fan. Mailer’s life wasn’t always pretty. He had six wives, one of whom he undoubtedly stabbed, eight biological children, a bit of a substance abuse problem and a sometimes violent temperament – on the set of his 1970 film Maidstone he got into a brawl with actor Rip Torn, which was filmed and used in the movie. But he had a grasp of the absurdity and poignancy of existence that made his work, and his life, into something like performance art. He ran for mayor of New York on a ticket with another of my heroes, columnist Jimmy Breslin, founded the Village Voice with two friends in 1955, and once said, “God is like me, only more so.” But a more fitting quote on the week of his death is this: “Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less. One is always living a little more or dying a little bit.” Man, I’m gonna miss that guy. – BC