Nancy Brands Ward, who had been with the California alt-weekly since September, left the paper last week, the Sacramento Bee reports. According to publisher Jeff vonKaenel, Melinda Welsh will again serve as interim editor, a post she held for 13 months before Brands Ward was hired.
An envelope mailed to the News & Review last month contained a CD, a threatening note, and a metal aerosol can marked "anthrax," reports the paper. After notifying the authorities, the weekly's offices were visited by local police, hazardous-materials experts, G-men and assorted officials associated with the local Joint Terrorism Task Force. The sender turned out to be a local crank/activist named Marc Keyser, who had been the topic of a 2002 News & Review cover story on his efforts to protect a local water system from terrorist attacks. Keyser, who claimed the package was meant to alert the paper to the anthrax threat, was not prosecuted. "The FBI showed up at my door and said it caused a bit of a scare," Keyser tells the alt-weekly. "We had a nice chat. They and their families are not vaccinated. But they carry guns."
Three AAN members in the Buckeye State recently collaborated on election coverage so each could benefit from the others' insight into their "hometown" candidates. In profiles that were published in successive months in all three papers, Cincinnati CityBeat wrote about Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell (pictured); Cleveland Free Times examined Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown; and The Athens NEWS took a close look at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland. CityBeat editor John Fox talks about how and why he and his fellow editors pooled their resources.
The athletics department of Ohio University is trying to turn over a new public leaf after articles in The Athens NEWS and Columbus Dispatch have exposed the legal problems of several student athletes as well as some of the department's staffers, the NEWS reports. The department is revising discipline policies and redoubling efforts to focus on academics for athletes. NEWS articles over the past year and a half have covered a bar fight, alleged drunk driving and horse-punching by staffers and students.
Tom Gascoyne, who resigned from CN&R in March after 11 years with the paper, has a new biweekly publication called The Chico Beat. According to his column in the inaugural issue, the paper has an initial print run of 10,000 copies. "Here's how it happened. Two out-of-work journalists stumbled across a generous offer they couldn't refuse and the rest is history," Gascoyne writes. The other unemployed journalist is award-winning reporter Josh Indar, who also used to work for CN&R. Without mentioning his former employer by name, Gascoyne adds, "That paper, by the way, is a fine paper, has always been a fine paper and will continue to be a fine paper -- just different."
Tom Gascoyne is ending his 11-year tenure at CN&R, he announced in his regular column yesterday. Gascoyne jokes that he was "scooped" by the Chico Enterprise Record, which published a front-page story on his resignation. ("Talk about your slow news days," he says.) Gascoyne told AAN that he has "become sort of disenchanted with the game. While we try, as a wiser newspaper person once said, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, in the end it is the comfortable who buy all the advertising."
Eight of the prospective members are previous applicants, and two are owned by alt-weekly veterans who had been members during a previous association with different papers. AAN members will also be asked this year to evaluate Boston's Weekly Dig and Des Moines' Cityview, the first two post-sale newspapers whose membership will be reviewed under a process established in 2004 when the association's bylaws were amended. The fate of all of these papers will be determined at the organization's next Annual Meeting, which will be held in Little Rock on Saturday, June 17, the last day of the 29th annual AAN convention.