"Chris Ferrell announced to the staff this morning that he'll be leaving the paper soon to start a new media company," the Scene reports. "I have worked with some of my favorite people in Nashville for the last three years, and week in and week out we put together a paper that matters to this city in terms of our coverage of news, our support of the arts and of culture," says Ferrell. "I have loved my time at the Scene. This was just too good an opportunity for me to pass up." Ferrell took over as the paper's publisher Jan. 1, 2005, succeeding founding publisher Albie Del Favero, now publisher of The City Paper.
D.X. Ferris will author one of the first of the popular 33 1/3 books on heavy metal, according to a press release. The book series "documents some of the most important albums ever made," and Ferris will turn his attention to Slayer with 33 1/3: Reign in Blood. For the book, which is due out in Spring 2008, he's turning to like-minded Slayer fans for their input, via MySpace. "This is a cool project, and your questions will make it better," says Ferris. "And that way, in a few months, once you've dropped a few bucks on the thing, you won't put it down and think, 'I wish he would have written about this, that, and the other thing.'"
In the 2007 Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards, Cleveland's Scene won in the Best Non-Daily Newspaper: Alternatives category, with Cincinnati CityBeat coming in second. Other first place finishes: Cleveland Free Times' Michael Gill in Essays; The Other Paper's Karen E. Graves in Reviews/Criticism; and the Scene's Pete Kotz in Column Writing. The awards, sponsored by the Press Club of Cleveland, were presented at a reception on Friday.
In a live chat yesterday, Liz Garrigan discussed her recent Washington Post piece on Fred Thompson's presidential chances and briefly highlighted two elements of alt-weekly journalism. After she said Al Gore won't enter the 2008 race because "he's got swimming pools to heat," a reader complained about Garrigan's off-hand remark. "Snarky asides help to pay my bills," she replied. Later, when a reader asked if she "might want to at least appear objective," Garrigan took the question head-on. "Part of what distinguishes alt-weeklies from mainstream media is that we don't peddle objectivity (or even think it's possible)," she said. "We do value fairness and balance but in the context of point of view. But that's another chat."
Last month, the city's Metro Council passed legislation restricting the placement of news boxes and requiring publishers to pay permit fees and maintain their newsracks in good repair. But yesterday, as expected, Mayor Bill Purcell vetoed the bill. "The ordinance before me is an abridgement of a free press and raises significant First Amendment issues,” Purcell says. Meanwhile, 22 publishers, including AAN member the Nashville Scene, are working on a self-monitoring agreement intended to be a substitute for legislation. Twenty-seven votes would be necessary to override Purcell's veto -- the same number of votes that originally passed the legislation.
City Pages' Dara Moskowitz was the big winner last night as the annual James Beard Foundation Media Awards were announced in New York. She took home first place prizes in two categories: Newspaper, Newsletter, or Magazine Columns and Newspaper Writing on Spirits, Wine, or Beer (which she shared with The Wall Street Journal's Eric Felten). The Cleveland Scene's Elaine Cicora placed first in the Newspaper Feature Writing Without Recipes category. This marks the second year in a row that Moskowitz has won a James Beard Award.
Last week, the alt-weekly sued the Tennessee Department of Corrections (DOC) for information about its review of the state's execution protocol. The City Paper reports that Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman ruled yesterday that all documents relating to the review must be turned over to the Scene. "We're thrilled," says Scene editor Liz Garrigan. "This isn't really about the paper, this is about accountability in government." Bonnyman gave the state until Thursday to file an appeal. With the May 2 deadline for the DOC's recommendations looming, it's unclear what the Scene will be able to do with the documents, especially if the state continues to delay the process with an appeal. "Time is of the essence," Garrigan says, adding that she'd like to publish a story about the DOC's deliberations by the paper's next publishing deadline.
The Metro Council approved the legislation this week despite opposition from the Nashville Scene and other local publications. According to the Tennessean, the law takes effect July 1. It will restrict the placement of news boxes and require publishers to pay permit fees and maintain their newsracks in good repair. "I'm not sure what it's supposed to accomplish, other than that we'll all have to register with a government entity and keep the boxes in working order," Scene publisher Chris Ferrell says. The councilman who co-sponsored the ordinance says he would lead the charge to rescind it if local publishers developed a better, voluntary plan. An earlier self-policing plan submitted by publishers was rejected by the council.
In February, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen issued an executive order halting all executions for 90 days so the Department of Corrections (DOC) could perform "a comprehensive review" of the state's execution protocol. Soon thereafter, the Scene filed an open-records request seeking information on the DOC's deliberations, but it was denied. With the May 2 deadline for the DOC's recommendations looming, the Scene filed suit yesterday in Davidson County Chancery Court. "We're talking about how we're going to go about killing people in this state," editor Liz Garrigan tells the Nashville Post. "We think that ought to be an open discussion." Nashville's City Paper reports the DOC has conducted its review entirely behind closed doors, with the exception of one 40-minute public forum.