When New Times published a story yesterday revealing that it was the target of a grand jury probe, it acknowledged that it was exposing itself to potential criminal charges. It sure didn't take long for those charges to come to fruition. The co-authors of the piece, VVM executive editor Michael Lacey and chief executive Jim Larkin, were arrested last night at their homes in Phoenix on charges that the story revealed grand jury secrets, according to the New York Times. The East Valley Tribune reports that the arrests came at the request of the special prosecutor. "It is an extraordinary sequence of events," says Steve Suskin, legal counsel for VVM. "The arrests were not totally unexpected, but they represent an act of revenge and a vindictive response on the part of an out of control sheriff." In addition, New Times reporter Ray Stern was given a criminal citation on Thursday for disorderly conduct after an argument over taking photos of public records at the sheriff's office. "They're trying to muzzle us," editor Rick Barrs says. "This is retaliation against us. And it's not just retaliation against us, it's retaliation against the press." UPDATE: Lacey, upon being released from jail this morning, spoke with reporters. "The way that this operates is that they select someone to make an example out of, and they selected our organization," he says. "Hopefully, other media organizations will begin to speak up and speak out about what's going on here."

Continue ReadingVillage Voice Media Executives Arrested for Phoenix New Times Story

Taking a cue from friends at the Sacramento News & Review, last month the Express launched "Urban Express-ions," a project that hopes to "pre-graffiti" distribution boxes by inviting local artists to adorn them with spray paint. The paper put out a call for artists, held a "painting day" in it's parking lot, and then displayed the results in a prominent Oakland gallery before putting the news boxes back on the street. "Instead of being blighted, we want these to be community art," says publisher Jody Colley, who spoke to AAN News with account manager Mary Younkin about the project. "We have new ownership at the Express and we really want to connect to the artist community more than we have in the past. This is kind of our first project doing that."
BONUS: Check out a video of the painting day below.

Continue ReadingEast Bay Express Reaches Out to Graffiti Artists

"As a source of gossip, half truths, lies, slander, unfounded speculation and general lazy-ass foolishness, LA Observed remains invaluable," Village Voice Media's executive editor writes in an e-mail published on the site. "Comes the news flash that three writers have, or will soon, depart the L.A. Weekly. To LA Observed, these are not matters of opportunity but signs of darkening skies," he writes. "In a city like Los Angeles writers find books, scripts and other opportunities. At any newspaper you have the occasional clash. You might have ascertained all of the above if you ever picked up the phone and talked to the targets of your biliousness."

Continue ReadingMichael Lacey Attempts to Give LA Observed ‘A Little Perspective’

"This week's issue marks my last as editor," Bill Colrus writes in a farewell column. He's leaving the Chattanooga alt-weekly "for a new and exciting opportunity in the world of custom publishing," and will be replaced by current co-publisher Michael Kull. "This paper has been devoted to digging for bits of truth buried in mountains of dishonesty and spin, and I've been glad to man the shovel," writes Colrus, who was hired prior to the paper's launch in 2003. "As I leave, I am confident that The Pulse will continue its mission to give a voice to the voiceless, go deeper on stories when a superficial snapshot is not enough, and strive to tell the stories nobody else will tell."

Continue ReadingThe Pulse’s Founding Editor Steps Down

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Michael Tisserand began writing what would become the "Submerged" series, 11 stories about the aftermath written for AAN and run in many member papers. One of the pieces was about the school that the Tisserands and other refugee parents started in New Iberia, La., which the former editor of Gambit Weekly expanded into the recently published book Sugarcane Academy. He tells Tucson Weekly he felt that experience best illustrated what it meant to be a Katrina evacuee. "It was a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, and I think the title of the school -- that the kids and teacher came up with together -- encapsulated how we felt," Tisserand, who has since relocated to Evanston, Ill., says. "(The school) was a place we could feel not just safe, but a place where we again felt the power to make decisions, to move forward."

Continue ReadingFormer Editor Expands AAN-Commissioned Piece Into a Book

The Reader's Michael Miner reports that Ben Eason didn't focus on editorial matters in Wednesday's meeting, but rather on "web opportunities, regaining ground lost to Craiglist in classified advertising, and the efficiencies of centralizing the design work in Atlanta," a change Miner notes "is likely to cost a dozen or so Reader employees their jobs." After the meeting, when Miner asked Eason about editorial, he said "it's everything" -- but Miner isn't so sure that's Creative Loafing's approach. He thinks the Creative Loafing papers' design "doesn't respect the stories it ought to serve. If the centralized design staff makes this the look of the Reader ... I think readers will judge it as antithetical to what they've understood the Reader to be." According to Miner, Creative Loafing will turn the Reader into a one-section tabloid, a change the old owners were also planning.

Continue ReadingCreative Loafing CEO Meets With Chicago Reader Staff

That's what the suburban Northwest Herald is saying about Reader media critic Michael Miner's recent column criticizing a Herald TV ad. Editor & Publisher has the entire letter exchange between Chris Krug, group editor of the Herald's parent company; Reader editor Alison True; and Miner. E&P also has comments on the column from Andy Schotz, chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists' Ethics Committee and a source in Miner's story.

Continue ReadingDid a Chicago Reader Columnist Twist His Facts?

Michael Warshaw, who was editor for five years, announced yesterday that he's leaving to become editor of Globe West, the Boston Globe's twice-weekly suburban paper, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. "He's great," Worcester Magazine publisher Allen Fletcher says. "He's a real pro who knows the city and has been a solid part of our team for a while."

Continue ReadingWorcester Magazine Editor Heads to Boston Globe Publication

In a conversation with the New York Times' David Carr, Village Voice Media's executive editor addresses the editorial merry-go-round at the chain's flagship paper. "We didn't expect things to happen overnight," Lacey says. He also tells Carr that a move to New York might be in the cards once his kids leave for college. "I'm not going to edit the paper hands-on," he says, "but I will be close enough to make whoever is editing the paper more miserable than they already are."

Continue ReadingVVM’s Michael Lacey: ‘We Didn’t Expect Things to Go Smoothly’

That's the rhetorical question PopMatters asks in an article lamenting the "sad trajectory" of arts coverage at the paper since it was taken over by New Times. In a somewhat less-than-thorough investigation, the Web site turns to two former Voice music critics for answers. Robert Christgau says Michael Lacey is "a philistine who hates New York City” but admits that Village Voice Media's executive editor cares about writing; it's just not the kind of writing that Christgau does. Meanwhile, Eric Weisbard claims the new owners hate "what the Voice stood for," i.e., "the idea that you should write about pop music with the same depth and the same number of cultural references that you would talk about a novelist in the New York Review of Books."

Continue Reading‘What Happened to Our (Village) Voice?’