White Noise: News from inside the media bubble

by the YES! staff

In hostile territory

In the fact-gathering process of reporting, nothing surpasses firsthand observation as a method. When reporters become unwitting participants in traumatic events, another person is often brought in to write the story. “I could smell gunpowder in the air and heard the groaning of people who were dying,” former Greensboro Daily News reporter Winston Cavin told the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission in July 2005. “I was in shock but did what many people do after surviving or witnessing a tragedy: I went on automated pilot. I ran across the street to the courtyard, scribbling notes like mad as I tried to comprehend what was happening.” City Editor Jack Scism ended up writing the first story about the 1979 Klan-Nazi shootings at Greensboro’s Morningside Homes for Cavin’s newspaper based, in part, on the reporter’s notes. So too did St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Janet McNichols’ give a first-person account of Charles “Cookie” Thornton’s massacre of two police officers, two city council members and a city planning director in Kirkwood, Mo. on Feb. 7, while her colleague Steve Giegerich took the byline. “There was a lot of yelling going on,” McNichols said. “It was mostly Cookie…. I was panicked. I was laying on the floor waiting to be shot.”

– JG

Big local media

ISP began in 1992 as kind of a middleman in the college sports media rights business, and has grown into a multi-faceted brand that encompasses event management, marketing, public relations, consulting and media production. Their new Winston-Salem building – Trader Hall, just a few skips down the sidewalk from our offices on North Trade Street – looks just about ready to go, and to help with the push the company has launched a new website: It’s something of a niche site, with news updates and information more attuned to the needs of, according to a press release, “sponsors, athletic directors, employees and potential employees.” Much of the content is an extended resume for the homegrown company – a pretty effective sales tool, but there’s not much for the common man here unless he wants a window into their corporate culture. Under the heading Incentive and Enrichment Programs: they have a sports library; on Wednesday mornings they stop what they are doing to read books, and they are required to read the newspaper every day; on Friday mornings they write thank-you notes. Also: They’re hiring. But nowhere on the site does it explain what “ISP” stands for. It’s been driving us nuts.

– BC

It’s hard out there…

Say you’re a reporter on a major news network, and you’ve got some issues with the way a former first daughter just sort of materialized on the campaign trail, stumping for her beleaguered mother. How would you address that? If you’re David Shuster of MSNBC, you might feel inclined to invoke the words “pimped out.” Unfortunately for Shuster, he won’t be invoking any words in the near future, not after Hillary Clinton caught wind of his remarks and called them “beneath contempt.” MSNBC suspended the “Hardball” contributor – who did apologize – from all network broadcasts. Now the debate shifts to whether the Clintons overreacted. The fact that Chelsea’s on the campaign trail shouldn’t surprise anyone, since she’s joining a detachment of candidate children trailing their parents across battleground states. Why did Shuster save the word “pimp” for Chelsea? Why not Cate Edwards? The Romney boys? Barack Obama’s young children?

– AK

Our industry in crisis

Greenville, SC alt-weekly The Beat published its last issue in January, after 31 months of publication in its current incarnation. Editor and Publisher James Shannon hints that the project will continue as a website, “as opposed to the more costly print product that requires a level of support hard to obtain without excessive pandering in a free publication funded solely by advertising dollars.” Noteworthy because The Beat began in 1991 as and was once a part of the Creative Loafing conglomerate, interesting because Shannon seems to think that the entire free weekly business model is susceptible. We at YES! Weekly, now in our 38th month of publication, respectfully disagree. In the meantime, anybody wanna buy an ad?

– BC