White Noise: News from inside the media bubble

by the YES! Weekly Staff

Drawn and quarter-earnings summaries

Are illustration and comics gigs drying up as the nation’s news-weeklies shrink their budgets? The Comics Reporter isn’t the first to ask the question, as they cover the Washington City Paper’s recent firing of comics artist and freelance illustrator Robert Ullman, who has drawn spots for Dan Savage’s popular “Savage Love” column for seven years. The City Paper, which was recently acquired by the Creative Loafing chain, is just the latest in a slew of weeklies to can popular and long-running content in favor of the bottom line. It’s no coincidence that the trend comes at a time when large chains are gobbling up more and more of the market. For Loafing, Village Voice Media and other companies cutting art out of the budget, it all comes down to bean-counting. For everyone who thinks a great illustration elevates a writer’s work into something irresistible and engaging, it’s just a shame.

– CL

On Safari

For a guy with a professed skepticism of global warming, John Hammer sure cares a lot about carbon emissions. Take these two entries from last week’s “Under the Hammer”: In the first, Hammer bemoaned the waste incurred by delegates to Bali’s global warming conference. In the second, he singled out the right’s favorite alleged hypocrite, Al Gore, for using more energy than the average American home. Last week, Hammer sounded a similar theme when he meditated on how the early December cold snap clearly disproved the theory of global warming, exposing all those accredited climate scientists as the naked emperors they are. I’m not even going to get into his claim that the shortening of the days has something to do with climate, although I can point him to some instructive astronomy websites.

– AK

It’s nice to be a member of the professional class

Last week the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on a plea deal that resulted in one of its photographers receiving inactive probation and possibly having charges dismissed, stemming from an incident almost a year after Hurricane Katrina when John McCusker was pulled over by police for driving erratically, begged an Officer Kristian Fricke to take his life and then pinned the officer between his car and the cruiser. McCusker had been distraught about the loss of his home and initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The story has a happy ending for McCusker: He kept his job at the Times-Picayune, and says he has retrieved a sense of hope. The episode has also revealed some of the quirks of uneven N’Awlins justice. McCusker was represented by defense attorney Laurie White, who was sworn in the following Monday as a criminal district court judge. And as one commenter identified as “bigeasy31” wrote: “I can’t help but think about another case around the same time. Remember the man who was shot and killed on St. Charles Avenue after pulling a knife on a large group of armed police officers. He was clearly mentally ill. It still troubles me that the police did not show the same restraint they did when someone was trying to run them over.” Responded “arizonabound”: “Same old South.”

– JG

The king of the office Christmas party

There will be a lot of office Christmas parties this week – ours is on Friday night at Greene Street; you’ve been warned – and you might want to take the opportunity to brush up on your office party etiquette. Watch how much you drink, for sure, though if the people in your office don’t know what an ass you are already then they haven’t been paying attention, am I right? Also, don’t have sex with anybody. That’s just common sense. And if you want an example of how not to do it, look no further than John Scammell, managing editor for England’s GMTV, who fell asleep at his desk after a particularly festive lunchtime party. Fellow employees said that Scammell, 46, who has been with the station since 1994, crashed face-down at his desk after a boozy lunch and after they tried to rouse him by calling his cell phone, they began to sing “Ring My Bell.” Scammell has been banned from attending anymore lunchtime holiday parties, and can only leave his office for lunch if he adheres to a curfew imposed by his bosses.

– BC