Search Results for 'September 15, 2011'

The Hook to Fold

The Hook is being shut down by its parent company, in a decision that is disappointing, although surely not shocking. That leaves C-Ville Weekly, owned by the same company, as the city’s sole weekly. The final issue will be published on September 26.

The Hook debuted thirteen years ago, only three weeks after an acrimonious split between the three owners of C-Ville Weekly drove owner Hawes Spencer to start his own paper. Nine years later, the two publications’ owners decided to join up again, with time and experience having mellowed the former competitors. At the time of the merger, owner Bill Chapman denied plans to eliminate staffing redundancies. Finally, last December, Hook editor Hawes Spencer sold his shares and stepped down, with Courteney Stuart taking his place. (The first comment after that story was prescient: “Cue the Cville gutting the Hook in 2013 by summer if not sooner.”)

Both of the papers have maintained distinctly different identities. Post-split, The Hook quickly took on the role of news publication, while C-Ville Weekly focused more on the arts and soft news. In this way, they managed to enlarge the overall news market, so that both could have room to exist. When the two papers came under the same umbrella again two years ago, it was logical to keep both publications, since—anecdotally—each had their own fans and detractors, and presumably likewise differing bases of advertisers. If today’s news is any indicator, that simply proved not to be true. Or, at least, the benefits of maintaining two competing brands were outweighed by the cost and redundancies of maintaining two publications.

Questions remain. What will become of Hook staff: reporters, back-office staff, and ad sales? Will C-Ville Weekly expand its coverage to include the hard news that The Hook provided, or as a community will we simply lose that? When will C-Ville Weekly become a twice-weekly publication? And what of The Hook’s website? There are 12 years of vital, historically significant news coverage there, available to anybody using Google. The loss of that archive—like the once-deep web-based archives of The Cavalier Daily, WINA, and The Observer—would be terrible. What’s the plan to maintain that?

5:45 PM Update: In a statement, the company says that “several key members of The Hook’s team will remain,” that they’ll be moving publication from Monday to Wednesday, and touts that the combined circulation of 25,000 will give them the largest circulation in Charlottesville.

Protest Group Seeks Permission to Camp in Lee Park

Occupy Charlottesville has asked City Council’s permission to protest 24/7 in Lee Park, Ted Strong reports for the Daily Progress. Occupy X groups have been popping up across the country in the past couple of weeks, beginning with Occupy Wall Street, with left-leaning protesters staging live-ins in public opposition to economic inequality and corporate power over government, especially since the September 2008 economic collapse. Lee Park has a 11 PM curfew, which prevents the protesters from remaining there around the clock, as is the norm for the Occupy protests. Occupy Charlottesville has been protesting in Lee Park since Saturday, but has asked permission to carry on non-stop, for a month. Given that Council doesn’t permit homeless people to remain there overnight, Councilor Holly Edwards said that she felt uncomfortable with the idea of allowing protesters, while Councilor David Brown expressed concern about the precedent that permission could set.

10/18 Update: Council agreed to give the group a permit to remain in the park through Friday night. It’s up to parks director Brian Daly to decide if they can stay longer.

Fluvanna Blogger Wins Free Speech Case Against County

Blogger Brian Rothamel has won his lawsuit against Fluvanna County over his use of the county seal, Sharon Fitzgerald writes for the Daily Progress. He brought a suit against the county back in January, courtesy of the Rutherford Institute, after they adopted a law prohibiting anybody from using their seal for any reason. The ordinance appeared to have been passed specifically to prevent Rothamel from illustrating stories about county business with the seal on FlucoBlog. (In the first few years of this site, I displayed the Charlottesville seal as the icon for news related to city government, just as Rothamel was doing for Fluvanna government news.) Federal Judge Norman K. Moon issued an injuction against the county to prevent them from continuing to enforce the law, writing that “the deprivation of Rothamel’s First Amendment freedoms easily outweighs whatever burden the injunction imposes on the county.”

The Progress article doesn’t include any quotes from members of the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors. I certainly hope that somebody gets their respond on the record. The law was unconstitutional on its face, and now that they’ve been smacked down by a federal judge, they’ve got some explaining to do.

Fluvanna Sued Over County Seal Restrictions

Fluvanna County is being sued for their ordinance limiting the use of the county seal, Tasha Kates writes in the Daily Progress. Bryan Rothamel, the proprietor of Fluco Blog, is being represented by the Rutherford Institute in his lawsuit, in which he accuses the county of violating his constitutional rights, specifically his right to free expression and the equal protection clause. The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors adopted the ordinance just a few months ago, in response to Rothamel’s occasional use of the seal on his website, where he has used it as an icon indicating news about the county. Here’s the relevant bit of § 2-7-2 of the Fluvanna County Code:

The seal of Fluvanna County is and shall remain the property of the County. No person, entity or organization shall exhibit, display, or in any manner utilize the seal or any copy, replication, facsimile or representation of the seal, whether in printed, electronic or other format, unless such use shall have been expressly authorized by the board of supervisors.

The state has a similar law regarding the seal of Virginia, § 1-505:

The seals of the Commonwealth shall be deemed the property of the Commonwealth; and no persons shall exhibit, display, or in any manner utilize the seals or any facsimile or representation of the seals of the Commonwealth for nongovernmental purposes unless such use is specifically authorized by law.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth has long enforced this, preventing anybody from using the state seal (outside of the context of the state flag, on which it appears) that appears to imply endorsement. The logic, as I understand it, is that a seal is a government entity’s equivalent of a signature—it’s how they put their stamp on something (often literally). But the difference here is that the state doesn’t seek to stop people from using the state seal for legitimate purposes, whereas Fluvanna County appears to have passed this law for precisely that reason.

Given that Rothamel promotes on his site that the site receives 65 visits per day, it’s particularly bizarre that the county would bother to craft a law to target him. Note that, in the Daily Progress’ article, they include a prominent reproduction of the Fluvanna County seal, in flagrant violation of this new law. Good for them.

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