The Mercury caused quite a stir when they organized a freelance janitorial crew Friday evening to put an end to a Rose Parade tradition: the "reserved" seat. In the City of Roses, people tape off sidewalk spots up to a week in advance of the annual parade, and, according to KOIN-TV, some were even selling their spaces on Craigslist. "If you go to the DMV or the bank, you don't get to tape your spot off in advance and then come back the next day," the Mercury's Matt Davis explains. "It's ridiculous." But as a local TV news reporter says, some folks "really don't care for the idea of messing with tradition." One inexplicably frightened bystander tells KATU-TV that the Merc's peaceful group of tape-and-chalk exterminators had her a little rattled: "It is quite interesting; kind of scary. I was worried for a second what might happen."

Continue ReadingPortland Mercury Organizes ‘Civic Clean-Up Squad’

In a bizarre case of technological misinformation, last week a blog reported that Dallas Observer reporter Matt Pulle was identified in a sheriff's report as a suspected telephone harrasser. A source for the reporter's work on the embattled Constable Mike Dupree had mistakenly given Pulle's number to the authorities after receiving harrassing phone messages. When confronted with Pulle's phone records, though, the blogger amended his post. In an attempt to get Pulle's name out of the sheriff's report, a Village Voice Media attorney wrote the sheriff's office, and they are reopening the case to find out who may have actually made the calls.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Reporter Wrongly ID’d as Telephone Harrasser

So claims H. Brown, announcing his 6th Annual Bulldog Awards on the Web site of the Fog City Journal, which calls itself "an online news organization" focusing on Bay Area news. "More balding hippies carry (the Bay Guardian's) Election Day crib sheet into polls than any other rag," explains Brown, who gives his own publication the nod at number two. Brown also says SF Weekly columnist Matt Smith is the city's third-best political writer, even though he's "lost a step" and "(s)eems nuts at times." Smith is brilliant, says Brown: "He can see yesterday, today and tomorrow as one multi-valved heart fed by money, greed and bigotry."

Continue ReadingBay Guardian San Francisco’s “Most Politically Influential Publication”

When law professor-turned-blogger Jack Bogdanski posted an item about a shooting outside a downtown hip-hop club, the Mercury's Matt Davis accused him of inciting racism, leading to a flame war that spread to other local sites, reports the Oregonian. Bogdanski responded by blocking the alt-weekly's IP address, preventing Mercury employees from posting comments on his site. "It's like a jihad, when these guys (at the Mercury) get going, they just pour it on," Bogdanski tells the Oregonian. To which Davis responds: "Regardless of (Bogdanski's) readership or our readership, I don't think we should be cutting conversation down. It's important that Portland have a conversation about race."

Continue ReadingPortland Mercury Incites Local Blog War

The Project for Excellence in Journalism recently posted comments about the future of alternative newspapers submitted by Richard Karpel, executive director of AAN; Matt Gibson, publisher of The Missoula Independent; Julia Goldberg, editor of the Santa Fe Reporter; and Alison True, editor of the Chicago Reader. The discussion is one of nine that were conducted via e-mail to supplement PEJ's report, The State of the News Media 2006, which was issued earlier this year. The four panelists share their thoughts on the New Times/Village Voice Media merger, the aging of the alt-weekly audience and the long-term outlook for mainstream-media organizations.

Continue ReadingPanel Discussion on Alt-Weeklies Available Online

Matt Zoller Seitz tells The Villager that the budget of his first film, Home, was about the same as "what the catering costs were for one day of Brokeback Mountain." Once he began showing the movie on the film-festival circuit, he discovered that his reputation as a film and television critic for New York Press translated into media coverage for his movie. "Anybody who reads my writing knows I can be unbelievably mean sometimes, so I feel there's a bit of karmic payback here in reading reviews of my own stuff," says Seitz, who is seeking DVD distribution.

Continue ReadingNY Press Critic Gets ‘Karmic Payback’ With Film Release

In a recent interview with John Dicker that appears in the September issue of The Toilet Paper (a monthly "Monster-Truck/Gay-Cowboy tabloid" based in Colorado Springs), Taibbi talks about his new gig with Rolling Stone and his recent departure from the New York Press. Taibbi offers a characteristically heated denunciation of columnist and former New York Press owner Russ Smith; says ex-editors Jeff Koyen and Alexander Zaitchik were scapegoats for the failures of the paper's management; and predicts new editor Harry Siegel ("a Smith protege") will turn the paper "into a dumb neocon rag."

Continue ReadingMatt Taibbi on Russ Smith, New York Press

Spurred by the lobbying effort of Missoula Independent publisher Matt Gibson, a bill extending legal-notice advertising to free-circulation newspapers passed the Montana state legislature yesterday. The bill must now be signed by Governor Brian Schweitzer to become law. Ironically, Gibson's primary opposition was the Montana Newspaper Association, for which he serves as a member of the board of directors. According to Gibson, a former member of the AAN Board, "AAN publishers need to be alerted to the practical reality that a periodical mailing permit, as commonly required in legal notice statutes, accomplishes very little to protect the people’s right to know. It does not ensure minimum reach or distribution, nor does it require independent verification of circulation. It's superfluous, and legislators can be convinced to change to law."

Continue ReadingMontana Close to Passing Legal-Notices Law

Lloyd Grove -- a gossip columnist, and one working at the New York Daily News -- found something in New York Press "shockingly offensive" and "nauseating." The offending article, written by Matt Taibbi, is titled "The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope." Grove quotes some New York politicians who express their displeasure with the article. (Note: Recent estimates peg the percentage of New York's residents who identify themselves as Catholic at 40 percent.)

Continue ReadingNew York Press Article Provokes Moral Outrage

Former Village Voice Media President Art Howe is now CEO of a holding company formed by the Mead family of Erie, Pa., which owns the daily Erie Times-News, to pursue purchases of alternative newsweeklies. Cleveland Free Times is the first investment the company has made in an alt-weekly. The management team headed by former Free Times Publisher Matt Fabyan "has been made significant partners," Howe said.

Continue ReadingPennsylvania Newspaper Family Invests in Cleveland Free Times