Changes at the Current
News You Didn't Read
The 1999 edition of Censored: The News That Didn't Make the News has just been published. The annual report from Project Censored at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif., looks back at the previous year's news and ranks the top 25 stories deemed to be important but overlooked or ignored by the mainstream media. This year's top story, in the opinion of the project, was how the Multilateral Agreement on Investment undermines the sovereignty of the nations which sign on to it, followed by stories on how chemical corporations profit off breast cancer, and how the Monsanto Corp.'s genetically modified seeds pose a threat to world food production.
Censored also ranks the top 10 Junk Food News Stories of the year -- the fluff to which news editors/directors gave space while ignoring those stories. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Lewinskygate was a landslide winner in that category.
Earning an honorable mention for the most overlooked list was The Texas Observer's "Death in the Desert" story from Sept. 25, 1998. Written by Debbie Nathan, the article examined how deaths of illegal immigrants along the U.S./ Mexico border have skyrocketed in recent years.
Austin apparently now has its own version of The Onion. While snacking at the Hyde Park Quackenbush's, I stumbled across the second issue of Texas Rawhide, a 12-page newspaper containing the same type of satirical stories as its nationally famous predecessor. Included were such headlines as "Tyson Downgraded to Cro-Magnon," "Quayle to Run Campaign on 'Potatoe Power,'" "Busta Rhymes to Replace Capt. Crunch," and "Teletubbies Blamed in Child's Death" (accompanied by a picture of Tinky-Winky wielding a bloody knife). For more info, Texas Rawhide can be reached at 383-0288.
Introducing TexMo Biz
Sorry to be a little slow in mentioning this, but last month Texas Monthly debuted its new business magazine, Texas Monthly Biz. The business mag will appear every three months as a supplement to the main mag, and the first issue came with the March edition of the Monthly. Of special interest to Austinites would be the gushing interview of Mayor Kirk Watson by none other than former councilmember and mayoral candidate Robert Barnstone, detailing how Watson has bridged the business/environmental gap in Austin. Barnstone, incidentally, is now a developer who stands to profit from Watson's revved-up campaign to revitalize downtown.
"When we were purchased by Emmis," says Texas Monthly deputy editor Evan Smith, "they were very expansionist, and encouraged us to [do this]. While we wrote about business for years in Texas Monthly, we thought that there was enough to write about that we could do a magazine without cannibalizing the main magazine. Texas companies are everywhere," he says, running down a list of everything from Frito-Lay to new Internet start-ups.
"We feel if anyone should write about Texas business, it should be Texas Monthly," Smith says. "We want to do the same quality of magazine, and we want to do not just a magazine for white guys in suits, but for general interest readers. We do not need a Texas version of Fortune."
At this point, I'm supposed to offer up some pithy review of Biz, but frankly, the content leaves me a little cold. Unfortunately, it seems aimed at promoting business rather than analyzing and critiquing it. I suppose there are people out there who might enjoy this -- perhaps the Neiman-Marcus shoppers at whom TexMo ads aim -- but my personal interests tend to lean toward how business affects workers and the communities in which they reside. There was an interesting column titled "Pay Check" by Graef Crystal which awarded the "Crystal Boot Award" to CEOs whose high pay is completely out of whack with their companies' performances, but the criticism seemed aimed more at how that affects company profits, rather than how it affects worker pay.
Smith freely admits, however, that that is not the type of magazine Biz sets out to be -- "We'll do stories critical of businesses, but we won't be the Texas Observer of business journalism."
With that in mind, I think I'll stick to the Observer or The Working Stiff Journal for my business news. To each his own.
It's just a trickle at the moment, but the exodus continues at KOOP radio. Volunteers, fed up with the arrogant way that management does its business at the community-owned, cooperatively (well, supposedly) run station have followed former assistant station manager Ellen Stader and station engineer Jerry Chamkis (the latter of whom was barred from the station after removing his own equipment) in leaving -- or in some cases, being tossed out.
Ricardo Mendoza (formerly known as Ricardo Guerrero), host of Global Groovin', was removed from the air after protesting station management. His protest came during KOOP's recent pledge drive, when he asked listeners who agreed with him to send in "protest pledges" of $9.17 rather than the regular $30 level (the amount was intended to reflect the station's frequency, 91.7FM). Mendoza said he netted $500 in pledges. Station managment was not amused -- station manager Marcelo Tafoya suspended Mendoza, and then the KOOP board of trustees revoked his membership in the cooperative (see Mendoza's letter in "Postmarks").
Also, two members of the station's community board resigned. Michael Bluejay and Larry Beckham both turned in their resignations last week, both expressing exasperation with station management in e-mails sent out to station members. "I feel that the severe mismanagement by the '97-98 Board of Trustees is killing KOOP, but the Community Board as a whole seems to have no interest in demanding accountability from the trustees," Bluejay wrote. "Short of recalling the trustees, I'm afraid that anything the Community Board can do now will be a Band-Aid solution at best. The BoT continues to commit acts that may even be illegal if not immoral and certainly stupid as hell."
Similarly, Beckham wrote, "I do hereby resign from the KOOP Community Board. The stench of evil in this regime is overwhelming and I will not contribute to this madness any longer."