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Friday, November 11, 2005

all you do to me is talk, talk

I am sitting at my desk, eating Bio K in an attempt to prevent, and somewhat undo, the havoc wreaked on my already less-than-happy body by taking antiobiotics for nearly a week (I'm done on Saturday, thank God). Yesterday was my last day of the weird prescription antihistimine on which I have literally barely slept or eaten all week. I know, to most, that would sound awful, but in truth in an alternative universe I'd probably make a great speed freak. I don't really like sleeping or eating, and I got A LOT done this week. Anyway, the antibiotics on the other hand, suck. And this BioK stuff, FYI, is nasty. Joy to the world!
Yesterday I spent EIGHT hours in a hotel conference room for SFR's business planning with one of the owners of the paper and the other managers. In case you envision SFR being run by a bunch of over-opinionated muckrakers, let me assure you that's just my department. In truth, we spend a lot of time considering the BIG picture, both in Santa Fe and elsewhere, of journalism, from both the journalism side of it, and the marketing side of it and the business side of it. I have a strange streak of loving to think about the "business" side of it, that is competing media, the marketplace of ideas, changing trends, journalism news. Etc. Which is why I've become (along with many other journalists) semi-obsessed with the VVM/New Times merger. It raises so many interesting issues, for one, and also the personalities in it are so extreme. Although, at the end of the day, like most things in America, the VVM/New Times merger, and the voices on both sides, pro and con, mostly come down to wealthy middle-aged white guys who used to be hippies and are now trying to line their pockets, arguing from perspectives of total advantage. The big criticism people levy at New Times is that they aren't political. The nutshell version of the argument (as I understand it) is that alt.weeklies came of age during a time in which the mainstream media did not express the diversity of views about the schism in this country (kinda like now, except it was then). Flash foward some 30 to 50 years later (depending on the paper; some of the alt.weeklies in the US are babies in their first decade, while others, like The Voice, just turned 50. SFR turned 31 this year, FYI and, yes, was started in opposition to The New Mex, but I digress). Anyway, these days, some papers, such as those owned by The Voice, and others like The Bay Guardian, still show their anti-establishment roots in what some might consider typically liberal ways—lots of political endorsements, very pro-Democratic leanings, pro-choice, pro-union. pro-gay marriage etc. These are papers about whom one always knows where they stand on issues (which you also could say about SFR, and I'm sure some of you are saying that right now). In effect, these are the kinds of papers that most liberal Santa Feans would agree with. New Times, from what I can tell, doesn't take the same approach, but concentrates more on reporting stories, cultural news etc., rather than using their papers as forums for pushing one agenda or another. (And I think you might perhaps say SFR falls in the middle of all this, as we do do political endorsements and the like, but we don't have weekly editorials and we try to minimize the number of stories we have that are "issue driven,"—although, yes, I have run at least three stories on The Patriot Act. I can't help it; that Big Brother shit freaks me out). Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, so, ahem, the VVM/New Times merger thus rankles some, mostly those of the VVM-mode of journalism, because New Times is perceived to be a CORPORATION that will force its brand of journalism upon the papers it owns, thus eliminating the other kind we were just talking about. And also, in general, since alt.weeklies were, allegedly (hey, I was a small child, I have to just take people's word on this) formed as an anti-establishment kind of undertaking, the idea of anti-establishment corporations doesn't really work for most people (since most anti-establishment liberals are anti-corporation. As am I, sometimes, if the corporation in question is, say, Wal-Mart. Whole Foods I'm pretty down with). And, beyond the philosophical debates (which I suspect are more sincerely expressed by the writers writing for these various papers than the people who own them) are the other concerns: market share, advertising revenue, money, money, money. Which brings us back to my initial thought—you know, the one about all the white guys trying to line their pockets.
Well, shit, we live in a capitalist society. Even if some of us probably had communists in our genetic trees, that was then. And then wasn't like now. For one thing, we've got way more choices about what kinds of coffee to drink.
Speaking of which, Im gonna go get me some!