White Noise: News from Inside the Media Bubble
Michael Savage, the bellicose and gravel-throated host of radio’s nationally syndicated “The Savage Nation,” airing locally on 101.1 WZTK FM, is losing advertisers after a concerted effort to highlight his inflammatory style by Brave New Films. Among the sins of Savage, AKA Michael Alan Weiner: calling the US Senate “more vicious and more histrionic than ever, specifically because women have been injected into” it; calling for lawmakers to initiate an “outright ban on Muslim immigration” and on “the construction of mosques”; and advising adherents of Islam to “take your religion and shove it up your behind.” The program, which airs out of San Francisco, lost advertising revenue from Union Bank of California, Intuit personal finance software, Chattem pharmaceuticals and beauty products and ITT Technical Institute. A fifth national advertiser, GEICO insurance, is considering pulling out as well. For his part, Weiner has sued the Council on American-Islamic Relations for posting a clip of his voice on their site, a clip that contains the quip, “Shove it up your pipe… I don’t want to hear another word about Islam.” In his defense, he was born with the last name “Weiner,” which should explain some of his rage.
Phoenix too hot?
Alternative weekly newspapers in large, coastal metropolitan markets typically rely on adult-oriented advertising as a revenue stream to subsidize the investigative journalism and feature writing that defines their traditional mission, not to mention reporting that tackles issues important to women and to gays and lesbians. Alt-weeklies in smaller markets and south of the Mason-Dixon line rely on adult-oriented advertising to a somewhat lesser degree, depending on local community mores. One of the old lions of the industry, Boston’s Phoenix, has run up against a local lawyer who wants to run the paper out of West Roxbury, a southwestern suburb of greater Boston. “This is not a freedom of speech issue, since we are not deciding whether or not this material is obscene,” lawyer Bob Joyce told the West Roxbury Bulletin. “We are saying that it is indecent, sexually exploitative, and has potential to cause significant harm, physical and emotional, to West Roxbury families.” Not so fast, says Peter Kadzis, executive editor of the Phoenix Media/Communications Group. “Attorney Joyce is active in the anti-choice, anti-gay marriage movements,” Kadzis said to the West Roxbury Transcript. “He is trying to halt the Phoenix from circulating for political reasons. His recent crusade against the paper’s Adult section is merely an extension of those efforts.”
Our industry in crisis
A couple years ago at an NC Press Association affair, we were told that the Raleigh News & Observer was the one paper in the state that was significantly growing its readership. Those numbers are difficult to verify, but the accounting in the N&O’s newest business maneuver is much easier to digest. Last week the biggest daily in North Carolina announced it will be cutting its advertising department from 26 down to 10, and outsourcing the 16 jobs to the Philippines and India. According to the paper, which is owned by California-based McClatchy Co., the third-largest newspaper company in the country, the downsizing will result in “significant savings.”
The interactive arm of The Washington Post, which also owns Slate.com, launched a new website this week, the Root, a political site by and for African Americans. The time is ripe, as it were. Barack Obama’s victory in the South Carolina primary, in the face of Clinton-led race baiting, exposed the dynamic nature of racial politics. Which means there’s plenty of material for pundits of all stripes. On the Root’s homepage, there are at least three takes on Obama’s victory, another article about a political scandal in Detroit and a piece about black immigrants. Click on the tab labeled Roots, and you’ll be directed to online tools for tracing your ancestry. The webpage, which is brand new, works better with Firefox than Internet Explorer, and I’d love to see more information about how the site got started, and who’s editing it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more information and features added in the upcoming weeks.