On Feb. 18, a judge ruled that the paper's predatory-pricing lawsuit against New Times Media may proceed, and gave New Times 30 days to answer the complaint or appeal the ruling.
In an article in this week's edition of SF Weekly, Editor John Mecklin suggests that the San Francisco Bay Guardian is facing financial problems brought about largely from the purchase of a new office building, and that these problems might be behind the Bay Guardian's suit against SF Weekly, East Bay Express and New Times, Inc. In order to counter the suit's claim that New Times' Bay Area papers are discounting ads below cost, Mecklin offers accounts of the Guardian engaging in those very practices.
Reporter Stephen James is the first Californian to win a court case granting access to government information under Proposition 59, the state's open-records initiative approved by voters in November 2004. Hoping to write an article about parolees for Sacramento News & Review, he asked the California Department of Corrections for the names and addresses of recently released inmates. The department refused his request, citing privacy concerns -- even though its Web site states that an inmate's name, age, birthplace and other background information can be released to the public. A Superior Court judge ruled that the department must turn over the requested information.
John Strand sued North Dakota's Cass County in February 2003, hoping to save an old jail from demolition. According to In-Forum, his legal expenses now stand at more than $60,000. The county is also seeking $39,000 in what Strand says is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP suit. His attorney, John Goff, claims that such actions have "a significant chilling effect on people's First Amendment rights." High Plains Reader applied for membership to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies last year and in 2002.
In the wake of an ad salesperson's arrest on charges of promoting prostitution, the Scene has suspended the personal adult services section of its classified pages. During the suspension, incoming publisher Chris Ferrell will thoroughly review the paper's procedures for running such ads. The decision was made after an undercover police investigation resulted in the arrest of Nels Noseworthy, the Scene's adult ad salesperson, office assistant and receptionist. The probe has its roots in a crackdown on prostitution that began in the late '90s, writes Scene reporter Matt Pulle.
The Boston Globe reports that a jury awarded $950,000 to plaintiff Marc Mandel, a Maryland prosecutor, in his suit against the alt-weekly. In January 2003, Mandel was involved in a bitter custody dispute when the Phoenix published an article detailing allegations that he had sexually abused children from two marriages. He sued for libel in April of that year. According to his attorney, the jury found two of Mandel's claims actionable, one of which was a subheadline reading, "Losing custody to a child molester." Phoenix editor Peter Kadzis says the paper plans to appeal.
The indictment accuses Nels Noseworthy of promoting prostitution by coordinating the placement of adult ads for the Nashville Scene, reports the Tennessean. The investigation leading to a grand jury's indictment lasted more than a year, and included undercover officers placing ads in the paper that, police contend, Noseworthy knew to be for prostitution. Scene Publisher Albie Del Favero calls the arrest retaliation for a story the paper recently ran about a DUI received by the police chief's son. A police spokesman brands that accusation "ridiculous."