New Times Editor: “I’m a Cardholding Member of the Evil Empire”

Editor’s note: This letter is a response to an earlier letter by Bruce Rodgers. To the editor: I am Bruce Rodgers’ worst nightmare. I was the ringer New Times sent to Kansas City to help Editor CJ Janovy shake off the last vestiges of the Pitch’s soporific tenure under Bruce’s pre-New Times editorship.

Yes, I’m a cardholding member of the Evil Empire, a New Times hack who’s been at it for ten years, the boogeyman every Birkenstock-wearing hippie burnout still clinging to a paycheck at alt-weeklies sees in his sleep, coming to take his job and turn his paper into a soulless corporate moneymaker.

Have keyboard, will travel. My corporate cookie-cutting overmasters have parachuted me into four of their newspapers in five different stints (Phoenix, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Kansas City, and now Fort Lauderdale) like the merciless mercenary that I am. Not that I could tell much difference, with all the papers looking the same and marching in lockstep with the Big Boys at HQ. The only thing that really changed was that when we got down on our knees between bong hits to pray to Lacey, it was in a different direction.

Now, the first thing I do when I get to town is I kill all freedom of speech. No kitten-loving liberal can open his yap in the city I’m invading without getting a fat New Times fist in the kisser. Take that, latte-sipping PETA pukes!

But Kansas City was a tough case. I think of it as my Fallujah: easy to take over but hard as hell to quell the insurgent pricks whining about how we were an “invading force.” So I went scorched-earth on the place. You would have done the same.

I mean, here was a sleepy little Midwestern town lulled into stupefaction by a solidly reported but ineptly edited daily newspaper saddled with the dullest stable of columnists in human captivity. And the weekly? Until Rodgers left, it was so predictably boring, it would greet the latest city budgetary audit with a full-blown cover story, usually titled something like “The State of the City,” which on its own could easily counteract the caffeine of a grande house blend with a double shot of espresso.

Bruce’s PitchWeekly loved roundtable discussions. Need I say more?

Extreme measures were the only solution. Sure, we may have gone a little blood simple on the place, the way we started paying writers actual living wages so they didn’t have to run pizza-delivery routes while trying to report stories. And demanding that writers look for surprising and counterintuitive angles rather than pushing their personal political biases at readers? Like I said, we were hardasses.

But we had to be. There were plenty of local string-pullers who’d had it too easy for far too long. Scumbags like Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, Johnson County megapastor Jerry Johnston, and Missouri Child Governor Matt Blunt all felt the sting of Pitch reporting. (And they all happened to be conservative Republicans, but thankfully, that escaped the notice of our “neocon” masters.)

Still, as I got the inevitable call from HQ to saddle up for my next incursion, I knew I’d be leaving a cowtown that wouldn’t soon forget the deforestation I’d visited upon it. No wonder Bruce is still hemorrhaging.

Now that I’ve landed again, Fort Lauderdale liberals will soon be an endangered species. And with this merger, well, I guess I’ll just have to keep my jumpsuit packed.

Tony Ortega
New Times Broward-Palm Beach
16 NE Fourth St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305

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