C-Ville Weekly: News or Navel Gazing?

legal_recruiter writes: I know that it’s hard to write 70 pages of stuff every week (especially with all the other news outlets in town), but C-Ville Weekly has failed to justify its existence over the past few months. Is it news? Is it entertainment? Does it matter? For most stories in the C-Ville Weekly, the answer to all three is a resounding “no.” [This week’s cover article] on whether Charlottesville is “Southern,” is stupid and has what can charitably be described as a mishmash of quotations on our town. Wait a minute: unsophisticated analysis of stale news and Sabato quotes? The C-Ville Weekly has turned into… the Cavalier Daily!

I’m sure that I’m just begging for an angry phone call in the morning by posting this, but I think it’s an interesting question.

57 thoughts on “C-Ville Weekly: News or Navel Gazing?”

  1. FWIW, I liked the article. I particularly enjoyed Maurice Cox’s thoughts on the physical layout of the city and how it’s a result of racial divisions in the 1800s.

    I’m very much of the school of thought that a media outlet need not wait for a press release or report on the police scanner to write a story. WVIR is the worst local offender on that front. As weekly publications, neither The Hook nor C-Ville can offer news in the sense of something that is new, save for the stuff that falls between the cracks at WVIR and the Progress. I think that it’s flawed to conclude that all that remains is arts and entertainment. On the contrary, commentary and analyis sare two of the most interesting things that remain, and I hope that we’ll continue to see lots of it.

  2. Hey, Legal Recruiter… do you write for “The Hook”? Or perhaps you are a FOH… “Friend of The Hook”?

  3. It seems the wind has gone out of their sails since the defections to the Hook. They’ve even resorted to using their music critic (Cripsy Duck) as a general assignment reporter (Stephen Barling).

    And no, I don’t work for the HooK. I do prefer reading it, however.

  4. yeah, that was my first suspicion too. I am thinking that people expected the C’ville to just disappear after they fired that editor guy. I enjoy reading both publications and both have alot to offer. I hope they both continue to flourish. As far as WVIR – I keep hearing people slam Channel 29. I have been here a little over two years and I agree that our local TV news SUCKS! I am curious to find out if anyone knows why this station continues to suck. Is it managment, low budgets, or what? But hey, one thing I have found out about WVIR — if it SNOWS, they are ON THE SCENE!!!

  5. Maybe this is ridiculously naive of me, but I’d like to at least make an attempt here. Could we not have this turn into a huge flame fest against C-Ville Weekly? What we have here is an interesting question regarding what local media ought to be, and the overarching question of whether it even matters what you and I think it ought to be. There’s an opportunity here for some interesting discussion. Let’s take advantage of that instead of venting our collective spleen at C-Ville.

  6. As a reader, I’m happy to have C-Ville around and pleased that they’ve survived the Hook exodus. If I get to read two free local weeklies, how lucky am I? Whether they can both survive in the long term, dividing up the available local advertising dollars is a business question for them to worry about, but more information for the public can only be good.

    C-Ville has been pro-active in providing behind the scenes, investigative reporting. John Borgmeyer’s wonderfully detailed recent piece on VDOT comes to mind. Courteney Stuart wrote a piece for The Hook a couple of weeks ago that looked at children with disabilities from the perspective of their mothers that I found both heart-breaking and inspiring.

    Folks, we don’t get this stuff anywhere else. Well, okay, David Maurer gives us thoughtful pieces in the Daily Progress, but my point is that we’re fortunate to have these two weeklies that can take the time to focus on issues that would, otherwise, be missed.

    As for WVIR, all I can say is that it’s a shame to have such an opportunity for news to be squandered. With a few exceptions, their reporting team seems to have no real connection with the community that they’re reporting on.

    Harry Landers

  7. why must you think that any negativity regarding Cville has ANYTHING to do with the HOOK. Thats quite a narrow minded thought. The town is much better served by having both.

  8. Waldo:

    I think both you and “Legal Recruiter” turned it into a flamefest first by wording the “interesting question” into a rather harsh criticism. I quote:

    “…C-Ville Weekly has failed to justify its existence over the past few months.”

    “Is it news? Is it entertainment? Does it matter? For most stories in the C-Ville Weekly, the answer to all three is a resounding ‘no.'”

    “[This week’s cover article] on whether Charlottesville is ‘Southern,’ is stupid … a mishmash of quotations on our town.”

    On top of that, the last line is an attempt to use yet another local paper (the UVa student paper) as an insult:

    The C-Ville Weekly has turned into… the Cavalier Daily!

    You are also the web designer for the Hook.

    Please explain how you could POSSIBLY even consider yourself impartial or even suggest that this didn’t even start out as a flame-fest? Your posting of this question and your business interest in the Hook clearly show that you are specifically TRYING to disparage the C-Ville Weekly.

    This most certainly is a flame-fest, and you’re the one who brought the lighter fluid.

  9. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you savvy media types this already, but the question of whether Charlottesville is a “Southern” city was discussed in a long Progress article about half a year ago. In fact, I feel certain there was a link to it on this web page … Waldo, care to confirm this?

    Just to weigh in, I’ve got to say the Hook’s election wrap-up really blew away C-ville’s. Two articles — one of which was an exclusive interview with Searles — and a q&a with Schilling, as compared with C-ville’s handfull of paragraphs. In this case, at least, the Hook did just what a weekly should do — offering an interesting spin on the news that Charlottesville had heard already. As a matter of fact, I’d say the C-ville out-and-out dropped the ball on this one. It’s one of the most interesting things that’s happened around here since the CHS beatdowns, but you sure wouldn’t know that from the scant attention it received in the ‘ville’s pages.

  10. They’ve got high-priced consultants who tell them “this is what the people want.” Weather first! I think they believe that people want to know what the weather is like before any major local news. Channel 29 also focuses many times more on national news than local, when you can flip to CNN or Headline News anytime to get that. They forget that they’re “niche” is local. Same with WINA…

  11. when you start a small bush fire you can’t be shock if the mountain side catches fire. Especially with the drought this site has suffered lately. You and the original poster did light the flame.

    I imagine that your the Kevin Bacon character in Animal House, who during the parade/riot sequence yells at the crowd “remain CALM! All is WELL!” and then is trampled by the advancing crowd.

  12. Just to clarify, the comments in quotes and italics on the main page were all written by legal_recruiter, not Waldo. He just posted them. I appreciate his post asking for a fair discussion; your vehement attack is grossly misdirected.

  13. You are also the web designer for the Hook.

    Actually, it was a one-shot software configuration process, a task and business relationship that has been completed; I certainly wouldn’t call it a “business interest.” Perhaps more usefullly, I’ve also consulted with C-Ville Weekly on their web presence. And the Observer. And WVIR. And I offered to help the Progress, but they weren’t interested.

    Sorry, you’ll have to try your conspiracy theories elsewhere.

  14. But hey, one thing I have found out about WVIR — if it SNOWS, they are ON THE SCENE!!!

    *Laugh* That’s the funniest thing that I’ve read on here in weeks. :)

  15. It most certainly is NOT misdirected when he (the SOLE editorial decision-maker for this site, by the way) has a BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP with the target’s MAIN COMPETITOR.

    He could have chosen to a) not post the submission, b) reworded the submission, or c) sent the submission back to Legal Recruiter to be reworded in a non-biased, objective manner. Instead, he chose to submit a blatant attack on the C-Ville, thus promoting those he is in bed with. Legal Recruiter could not post the article himself; Waldo is the only one who can do that (technically, I belive Munk can do it also, but it still comes back to the point that Munk and Waldo both do the web design for the Hook, so my point is still valid).

    The quotes belong to Legal Recruiter, and Waldo posted them instead of using some basic journalistic integrity and turning it into an actual objective debate; this makes him just as guilty.

  16. In fact, I feel certain there was a link to it on this web page … Waldo, care to confirm this?

    Wow, you’re good. :) Low and behold, Jake Mooney had an article on the topic last October.

    Just to weigh in, I’ve got to say the Hook’s election wrap-up really blew away C-ville’s.

    It was better, but I’ve got to say that both of them dropped the ball during the election. Both have been picking up the slack by way of analysis, with the Hook doing the better job in that regard as regards last week’s issues.

    While I’m on the topic, I’ve got to give the Observer credit for publishing the only voter’s guide prior to the election. I was really glad to see them do that.

  17. If I get to read two free local weeklies, how lucky am I? Whether they can both survive in the long term, dividing up the available local advertising dollars is a business question for them to worry about, but more information for the public can only be good.

    A hearty amen to Harry’s entire post, but particularly the above. As far as I’m concerned, the more weeklies the merrier. I’ll be particularly interested to watch as each find their niche. But currently, both of them are providing valuable and insightful media and news analysis, and I really appreciate that.

  18. Could we have a poll where we can dump on Central Virginia WORST news outlet, Channel 29. They really should be called The Charlottesville School of Televsion Journalism.

    My favorite moments are the live shots, where a reporter stands outside and says, ” a few hours ago in this building behind me (which you can’t see because it’s really dark now) was a hotly debate (insert topic here). Go to canned footage. “This has been X reporting from the place that news happened several hours ago but we have to stay at because this LIVE truck ain’t paying for itself.” “Back to you(insert anchor’s first name here) “

  19. Hell – if it MIGHT snow they’re on the scene! In fact, if it didn’t snow, they’re on the scene to tell us that, too. And such spiffy winter weather gear!

  20. But did you see that really right-leaning article they did AFTER the election where they praised Schilling to high heaven as the greatest candidate to ever come out of the woodwork in Charlottesville?! The reporter was all, “Everyone at Lord Hardwick’s was SOOOOO HAAAPPPYY! There was joy everywhere when Rob Schilling floated through the doors! Republicans are awesome!!!” Well, maybe it didn’t go quite like that, but it was CLEARLY biased in favor of creating a rosy impression of the local Repub. party.

  21. But did you see that really right-leaning article they did AFTER the election where they praised Schilling to high heaven as the greatest candidate to ever come out of the woodwork in Charlottesville?!

    I didn’t say they were impartial. :)

  22. Your questionning of Waldo’s decision to post the original submission on the usefulness of C-ville would hold more water if there was any evidence that Waldo wanted to dis C-ville. But, as we’ve seen, that’s not the case. Waldo’s expressed his appreciation for C-ville and complimented their work. Several others, myself included, have done so.

    So, what we’ve seen here has been a posting that asked a critical question leading towards a love-fest for C-ville. That’s one of the beauties of this site. You put a story up and you just don’t know what the reaction will be. Readers won’t let anybody get away with a set-up job.

    Do you really think Waldo’s out to get them? And do you really think he’d do that, just because he did a small web-design job for a competitor? If so, you have no idea of his character.

    Lay off.

    Harry Landers

  23. Not only that, but the questions the anchors pose to the reporters are “canned.” They need to take acting lessons to make their delivery of the questions a little less perfunctory. WVIR is the first stop on each little newbie reporters way to bigger and better markets. All they care about is making sure they have a few good stories for their demo reels and their off. The rest of the time, they consult the Daily Progress for story ideas instead of actually enterprising on their own.

  24. It most certainly is NOT misdirected when he (the SOLE editorial decision-maker for this site, by the way) has a BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP with the target’s MAIN COMPETITOR.

    Are you deliberately ignoring my post demonstrating that you’re wrong?

    What’s even funnier is your thesis that cvillenews.com is in some way impartial. It’s not. It never has been, and it never will be. I’ve made that clear in the FAQ since day 1. You’re simply wrong about this particular bias — there is none. The difference between my biases and those of other media outlets (not that cvillenews.com really qualifies as a news outlet) is that here you’re free to publicly declare me to be wrong, since I provide you with the same soapbox that I have.

  25. The rest of the time, they consult the Daily Progress for story ideas instead of actually enterprising on their own.

    I am occasionally shocked by the obviousness with which their news appears to come directly from Progress stories.

  26. I can’t take anything at all in the Observer seriously ever again after reading this quote publisher Jeff Peyton gave in an interview:

    “…it’s my job as a Christian to share the gospel, and homosexuality is a sin. But so is driving 56 in a 55 mile zone, and I sometimes do that.”

    For the interested, the interview is posted on George Loper’s site: http://www.loper.org/~george/archives/2002/May/76.html

  27. “…it’s my job as a Christian to share the gospel, and homosexuality is a sin. But so is driving 56 in a 55 mile zone, and I sometimes do that.”

    But you’ve got to give him credit for one thing: he’s up-front about it. Professed predilictions are far better than hidden ones, IMHO.

  28. I must have missed the biblical passage that referred to traffic laws. I’ll have to pick up a new Bible next time I’m at the DMV.

  29. That’s all he gets credit for. As far as publishing a “community newspaper,” he wouldn’t know what one was if it walked up and smacked him in the face. His is republican propaganda drivel. Not that I wouldn’t vote for a Repub…

  30. Waldo…

    C-Ville published an article called “Meet the Candidates” on March 12. All four candidates responded to questions about housing, relations with UVA and the government’s role in the arts.

    Furthermore, many of the articles I wrote on UVA’s parking garage and recycling tied the issues into the City Council race. Just because we didn’t have one article headlined “Voter’s Guide” doesn’t mean we weren’t covering the election. It was our intent to analyze the campaign in relation to other news we were covering, instead of simply giving candidates a forum to spew rhetoric without context.

    jb.

  31. March 12? wasn’t the election in May. Do you think I keep my old cville’s lying about for nearly two months? Close but no cigar bucko. You had no voter guide JB. You very tall but that ones still a bit of a stretch.

  32. yeah, and what’s with this “Mr. Food” guy? I guess somewhere, there is some old lady who raised hell with WVIR when they tried to take him off so that’s why we are stuck watching him cook sh** that we can’t even stomach.

  33. Lots of commentary here, but hardly any of it has addressed the original question.

    I agree that C-Ville seems very directionless, especially when compared with the Hook. It seems like the latter has been true to its editor’s vision of being this town’s news and arts weekly, while the former scrambles to come up with interesting stories and folks who write well enough to produce them by deadline. The overall quality of the paper, especially the photographer, has suffered tremendously.

    That said, I enjoy seeing what stories both papers come out with each week. It’s just that The Hook is doing a better job filling the niche that C-Ville always filled under Spencer’s editorship; I think C-Ville needs to find a new niche or it will continue to be compared and pale in that comparison.

  34. I saw MUCH more substantial coverage of the city council election in the C-Ville Weekly than in the Observer. I second JB’s account of the Observer’s coverage: “rhetoric without context.” That about sums up their recent so-called expansion in page count. Just a bunch of press releases with no analysis.

  35. I just write it down. It’s not my fault if it falls out of your head whenever “Must-See-TV” comes on.

    jb

  36. “The overall quality of the paper, especially the photographer, has suffered tremendously.”

    the fashion issue for one was great

  37. Yes, but the cover images tend to be either stock art or out of focus — can’t hold a candle to Jen Fariello’s work for the Hook.

  38. C-Ville published an article called “Meet the Candidates” on March 12. All four candidates responded to questions about housing, relations with UVA and the government’s role in the arts.

    I should have phrased my original comment better. You certainly had information about all candidates, no doubt. But the Observer ran a piece the week of the elections — a grid containing a listing of major issues with a representation of each candidates’ stance on that issue. All the media outlets (save for WINA, at least that I’m aware of) provided coverage of all four candidates prior to the elections. But only one ran a listing of the candidates’ stances on the basic issues immediately prior to the election. That’s what I think of when I hear “voter guide.”

    BTW, that’s not a substitute for the Observer’s relatively fluffy coverage of the elections. They were saved from last place by that piece; WINA and WVIR are tied for that particular honor. After the Observer, The Hook and C-Ville are pretty much tied, but both a distance second to Jake Mooney’s beat-down in his ongoing coverage. :) However, now is the part where C-Ville and The Hook can really step in (and have thus) with analysis and post-election coverage. That’s not something that the Progress has historically done well, and obviously not WINA or WVIR.

  39. Sorry, feckless prose with no bite remains not long in my brain. I sure you remember every thing you wrote in thta article but you be the only one. But hey get that voter guide out early I know you have other fish to fry. Can’t wait for your “Back to School” coming out next week.

  40. Yes, but the cover images tend to be either stock art or out of focus — can’t hold a candle to Jen Fariello’s work for the Hook.

    I must say that it’s hard to top Jen in the media photography niche here in C’ville.

  41. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

    Romans 13:3-5

    Your state trooper is an agent of wrath for those who break the speed limit.

    :)

  42. Unless you’re looking for photos of, oh, news items, in which case Andrew Shurtleff, Dan “D-Lo” Lopez and Ronna Gradus all do better. And Ben Schwartz at Channel 29, beyotch.

  43. Actually, that isn’t what I said, but your post here illustrates the point I’m about to make.

    Dave and I had a great conversation spanning nearly three hours and covering topics ranging from hate crimes (the reason for the interview) to religion to politics and public policy to kids and family life.

    I’ve just read his Q&A on George’s website, and, to be honest, some of what “I said” surprises me.

    It isn’t that I didn’t say some things, but that the context in which I said them is missing. (Not unlike in your post.)

    My beef isn’t with Dave, who captured what he thought to be the essence of the conversation in his write-up. My beef isn’t with George, either. I think what they’re doing by asking folks from all walks of life these questions is a great way to generate thoughtful discussion on some tough issues.

    My beef is with folks who refuse to hear what anyone else might have to say on an issue. Some people are just closed-minded enough to ignore the obvious lack of context, read what they want to read, hear what they want to hear, and believe what they want to believe. And then call OTHERS intolerant.

    It’s no wonder people shy away from conversations like that which George and Dave are trying to start.


    Finally, at the risk of sparking a much more vitriolic flame war, The Observer is the closest thing to unbiased reporting of local issues in this area. For sure it’s the only community weekly that even shoots for objectivity.

    I don’t know how to tell you this, in case you missed it, but Rob Schilling’s election to City Council was a big deal and Amanda Greene covered it accordingly. Blake’s re-election was a foregone conclusion … the big news of the night WAS the fact that Rob won. And despite a thousand-plus single-shots, he still only won by a 80-point margin.


    Nuff said. Sorry to ramble on.

    — Jeff

  44. the hook and the c-ville both had extensive voter guide coverage months before the election. why? so it would be out in time for the democratic nominations, which, for the last twelve years, HAS been the election. made sense at the time, eh?

  45. “Finally, at the risk of sparking a much more vitriolic flame war, The Observer is the closest thing to unbiased reporting of local issues in this area.”

    Uh, yeah right. Take a step outside of self-delusion-ville.

  46. This conversation began by talking about an article in the C-Ville Weekly (Is Charlottesville Southern?) and ended up talking about how WVIR lifts ideas from the Daily Progress. I’d like to tie these threads together with the following observation: the Daily Progress ran the same story (Is Charlottesville Southern?) in its 10.7.01 issue– the story was written by Jake Mooney and followed much the same tack that Frosch took in the C-ville. It’s not literally the same story word-for-word, but it is structurally the same, makes many of the same observations, and comes to the same conclusion. It might just as well be the same story. First WVIR, now the C-ville?

  47. Yeah, “post election coverage,” such as “Rob Schilling, if you were to come back as a car, what kind would it be?” Or, “what’s your favorite bumper sticker?” How about “Do you floss?” Please. The Hook’s “coverage,” if that’s what you want to call it, is a bunch of one-source stories spoonfed by disgruntled losing candidates or regurgitated poison-pen analyses of how the press did some sad sack of a candidate wrong.

  48. You may be shooting for objectivity, but I’m shooting jizz all over your

    mom’s face.

    And the latter is happening quite a bit more effectively than the former, I might add.

  49. Yeah I liked it too. And turn to the back page for a blistering number from Mr. Ted Rall. Yee haw!

    The only big difference I’ve noticed since the advent of the Hook is that now I’m reading two papers a week instead of one. Reading the Progress is even less important now than it used to be (not very) since everything they say gets distilled at least 3 ways, counting this forum. Ditto for ch 29 on TV. Actually I say anything is better than any TV but that’s beside the point.

    I hadn’t put the Barling=Duck thing together for myself and its just as well.. he’s a good writer. Possibly better at writing ‘news’ than at writing ‘scene’.

    -M

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