There's been a lot of controversy lately regarding the New Times' takeover of the Village Voice and the resulting carnage at the legendary weekly in New York. Blood has been spilled, great reporters have left or been fired, a lot of people are concerned.
I don't pretend to understand what's happening. But there is one small issue that I think needs to be settled and it starts back in February when Mark Jurkowitz of the Boston Phoenix quoted then-Voice media critic Sydney Schanberg about NT/VV Executive Editor Michael Lacey's fateful visit with staff.
"[Lacey] said he didn't want any stories that referred to other people's work," Schanberg said.
I don't understand that quote, but I wasn't there, and that may have been exactly what was said. Later that month, Schanberg, whose reporting in Southeast Asia won him a Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for the movie "The Killing Fields," quit his job. Gawker reported that Schanberg felt "that the company was no longer interested in media criticism."
On April 13, Schanberg told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now : "My assumption was [Lacey] didn't want to cover the press. His other papers, other New Times paper(s), don't have a press column. He's not interested in that."
Here Schanberg acknowledges that he made an "assumption." But then he flatly states that New Times papers don't have any press columns, obviously without bothering to check his facts. And when Schanberg speaks, people listen. Like Marisa Demarco at the Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque, who wrote in her column this week:
"Village Voice was the first alternative weekly paper in the country, carrying some of the best media critiques the newspaper biz has ever seen. Lacey walked into a room of talent and started hacking away, looking to make the Voice like all the other weeklies in the chain (none of which have a media criticism space)."
When New Times editor Tony Ortega told Demarco that it wasn't the truth, the newspaper quickly took the fallacious line -- "none of which have a media criticism space" -- off the Internet version. Readers of this blog know all too well how much NT values media criticism. I've been writing off and on about local newspapers for long while in the New Times and the blog is all about the media in South Florida.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better digger into the Miami Herald than Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse. And at Denver Westword, Michael Roberts has been covering the media for several years now. He's not hard to find, Romenesko has him listed on his "Media People" links.
In fact, I challenge anyone to find a New Times newspaper that has failed to do any media criticism in the past year. It can't be done. So let's get this straight: The New Times -- and the Village Voice -- do media criticism. And they'll keep doing it, no matter what people say or write.
(See Sydney Schanberg's response in comments below).
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Hollywood's Political Love Boat
This is a press release sent from the publicly financed Hollywood Art and Culture center, you know the agency made famous by the leather Alan Koslow vampire suit. I think it speaks for itself as a testament to the evil of Hollywood politics, but one question I have: Who the flying hell would pay $110 to be waited on by Peter Bober? Mayor Mara, I understand. I mean she's the point person for the people who run Hollywood and it would be worth it just to make her run back and forth to the kitchen. But Bober?
130-FOOT LUXURY CHARTER YACHT IS SETTING FOR CUISINE FOR ART
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 20, 2006
Contact: Charmain Yobbi, Manager
Hollywood, Fla. - The Ninth Annual Cuisine for Art, the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood's innovative fund-raiser where public and appointed officials become celebrity waiters, will be held on Thursday, May 18 from 6 to 10 p.m. aboard Sun Dream Yacht Charters' Catalina, a beautifully appointed 130-foot luxury charter yacht. This is the first time that this event has been held onboard a luxury vessel. During the evening, the Catalina will remain docked at the Diplomat Landing, located across the street from the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa at 3220 S. Ocean Dr., Hollywood.
Guests decked out in business casual attire will be able to come and go as they please at Cuisine for Art, which will feature wine and Absolut cocktails compliments of Southern Wine & Spirits; passed hors d'oeuvres; meat carving, pasta, and cheese and fruit stations; a silent auction for one-of-a-kind items; as well as a raffle for fabulous prizes. (Winner need not be present to win.)
State Senator Steven Geller, State Representatives Ken Gottlieb and Tim Ryan, Broward County Commissioners Sue Gunzburger and Lois Wexler, and City of Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti will be among the "servers" at this fund-raiser.
Other celebrity waiters include City of Hollywood Commissioners Cathy Anderson, Peter Bober, Beam Furr, Fran Russo and Keith Wasserstrom; City of Hollywood Assistant City Manager Rick Lemack; City of Hollywood Fire, Rescue & Beach Safety Department Chief Virgil Fernandez; City of Hollywood Police Department Assistant Chief Louie Granteed; Downtown Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Neil Fritz; Hollywood Beach Community Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Gil Martinez; and Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Don Dalton. Cuisine for Art co-chairs are Patty Asseff, Tracy Lyons and Drazia Rubenstein.
Southern Wine & Spirits, Sun Dream Yacht Charters and Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa are sponsoring this year's Cuisine for Art.
Tickets are $90 per person in advance or $110 per person at the door.