Former New Times Editor Slams Company

To the editor:

I spent approximately 11 months as a New Times employee, both as editor and a columnist. It’s a corporation that pays well and fucks with your head.

In December 1999, the New Times bought PitchWeekly in Kansas City. I was editor, and had been since April 1993. Early on, I knew I wasn’t the type of editor they wanted, and I knew my editorial staff — all of which I hired — were not the journalists they wanted. This is despite numerous journalism awards and a number of stories we did that beat The Kansas City Star. We endorsed candidates and had the reputation of being independent much more than being liberal — though we were.

My term as editor for New Times, which lasted until June 2000, was the worst time in my professional career. Instead of having a relationship with a publisher, I had an overseer out of Denver whose journalistic experience was just a notch above an ordinary college-enrolled editorial intern.

I’ll never forget the journalistic motto I was told the New Times went by: “We like to catch people with their pants down.” I have to assume that the good journalists at the New Times find ways to overcome writing and reporting to that motto.

In my town of Kansas City, the New Times The Pitch is a second- or third-tier publication within the New Times empire. I have no doubt that the New Times does great journalism — I’ve read some of those stories — but not in my town. Here, I don’t ever expect The Pitch to break open a story that will set the town alive. The PitchWeekly I worked for was bought just for the money, not to practice better journalism. In my opinion, that holds true for the Village Voice purchase.

Bruce Rodgers
(now publisher/owner of eKC online,

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