I accidentally overhauled the technical infrastructure behind cvillenews.com over the past few hours. (It was meant to be a small fix, done late at night to avoid downtime, but one thing led to another…) I’ve upgraded from an ancient version of WordPress to the latest one, while trying to drag along many of the features that were dependent that rickety old version of WordPress. Parts of the site are going to look funny and broken-ish for a bit while I try to massage things back to how they were. Then they’ll start looking funny in new and interesting ways, as I start to make many of the improvements to the site that I’ve been unable to make for years now. Thanks for bearing with me!
9/25 Update: Oh, and it’s possible to post comments now. Because that seems like a useful feature.
Tuesday night’s forum on the future of local print media went really very well. There were something like 85 people there, but it was tough to get a count, because the space was so overfilled. Dozens of people stood for an hour and a half and didn’t complain once, which was very generous. Our speakers were engaging and interesting, the audience had great questions, and I think everybody had a good time. (The Daily Progress’ Josh Barney was a clear crowd favorite. That guy should go on the lecture circuit.) But the whole affair left most people wanting more—a display of hands at the end showed that about 80% of the audience wanted to do this again soon, which surprised the heck out of me. I’d love to hear from folks about what they’d like a follow-up event to focus on, what should be done differently, what should be done the same, and who they’d like to hear speak. I’m grateful to everybody for coming out, to Left of Center for co-hosting this with cvillenews.com, and to all four of our speakers for their willingness to participate.
Sean Tubbs recorded the event for posterity, and you can listen on the Charlottesville Podcasting Network website.
Here’s your day-of reminder: the cvillenews.com / Left of Center future of local print media forum is tonight, at Rapture, at 7:00 PM. Based on the RSVPs, it looks like this going to be packed. Given the planned candid talk by editors from three local publications, alcohol, free tasty foods from Rapture, and lots of good company, I can see why. RSVP on Facebook or, hey, just show up.
I’m trying something new here—taking a cvillenews.com discussion into a real, physical forum. In an event held jointly with Left of Center in one week’s time at Rapture. Here’s the promotional blurb:
News media across the country are collapsing. After recent staff cuts, furloughs and the shutdown of local printing for The Daily Progress, will Media General be doing more downsizing? Can we support four TV stations? Two weeklies? Will blogs replace all of them? What about the partnership between the non-profit Charlottesville Tomorrow and the Daily Progress, being watched nationally as a possible future model for local news?
University of Virginia media studies professor Bruce Williams will give a historical overview of how changing “media regimes” in the U.S. have impacted political communication and civil society, and how the recent “broadcast era” may have been an anomaly in the larger sweep of American history. Then we’ll talk about what the future holds with Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Sean Tubbs, Daily Progress assistant city editor Josh Barney, and Hook editor Hawes Spencer.
Free appetizers and socializing (with a cash bar) from 7 to 7:30 p.m precedes a panel discussion and introduction to the issue. Then we open the floor to audience questions. Come join the discussion.
RSVP on Facebook so we’ll know you’re coming (or, if you’re not down with Facebook, you can RSVP here or, hey, just show up). Though it was tempting to include broadcast media, we’ve deliberately focused primarily on print media, in order to prevent the discussion from being too broad and shallow—sorry, broadcast folks. Next time.
Tuesday, January 12, 7:00 PM, Rapture. I hope you’ll come.
Chicken farmer and faux celebrity Tommy Garrett has subpoenaed me for evidence in his lawsuit against The Hook. In the incredibly overbroad subpoena, his attorney asks for full documentation about any time I have ever communicated with anybody, ever, about Garrett or the lawsuit, along with everything I know about everybody who posted a comment to my blog entry about the case: names, e-mail address, IP addresses, etc. The idea that I could have any information relevant to this case is absurd, since I hadn’t written a word about the matter (or even heard of Garrett) until after his lawsuit had been filed.
What Garrett and his attorney may not know is that I’ve got a bit of a history of not taking any guff on the legal front—I was among the plaintiffs who took the youth curfew case up to the Supreme Court in the mid-90s, and I prevailed when Mattel came after me in federal court in 2000. So rest assured that I don’t intend to give up a thing unless compelled to do so by a court. Unfortunately, “hiring a lawyer to quash a subpoena” doesn’t appear in our household budget, so I’m acting as my own attorney here. But, hey, I’ve been exploring getting a law degree, so here’s a chance for a crash course. The requested information appears to be variously irrelevant, unnecessary to the case, confidential, and privileged.
I’d chalked up Garrett as a harmless kook, and pitied the guy enough that I’d resolved to basically ignore this matter save to cover the aspect of a local media outlet being sued. But my perspective is now considerably less charitable.