another reason to love the British
shameless self promotion, 208 in a series

setting a tiny bit of the record straight. sort of.

A long time ago, in a land not-so-far away, where the natives paint themselves orange on certain Saturdays during the Fall, I was the Arts and Entertainment Editor for an alternative weekly called Metro Pulse. My tenure dates from spring 1998 to, um, summer of 2003. I can only speak for those five years, but we both kicked ass and sucked it, just like any other publication put out on a weekly basis by humans. Hopefully, we did more of the former than the latter. Also, hopefully, we did some good. That's really all one can wish for, in the longer run.


During my last few months, after lots and lots of the folks who helped make the publication what it is moved on to other gigs, the paper was purchased by Brian Conley, who also runs one of the bigger contracting concerns in Knoxville. His big tie to journalism is ... well, he self-published a novel. And since the Pulse's inception, Conley also was a "silent" partner, which largely meant that if we wanted to report on anything that his firm was involved in, he put the kibosh on it and/or threatened to sue. Good times.

Things change, as they do, and the paper's main owner/publisher decided he wanted to retire, which was well within his rights. He sold the whole shebang to Conley, who maintained the status quo for 30 days (it might have been 60 days. Memory fades, sadly), then fired a few people and replaced them with cheaper, younger, seriously less experienced folk. This was the start of a trend. Which is fine. It was his business. He can do what he wants with it. (My only wish is that he'd changed the name of the publication. His Metro Pulse really isn't what it was for the 10+ years leading up to it. Ah, well.)

Both because of coincidence and a sense that the times we a'changing, I moved on. I can't really comment on what happened in the office after I left. I can comment on what the paper has become from a reader's standpoint, but won't, really. All I can say is that I've mostly stopped reading it, partly because I don't live in Knoxville anymore and partly because it's hard to watch someone do unspeakable things to your baby.

Conley's tenure has been marked with quite a few mis-steps, frankly, but a lot of them are what you'd expect from anyone running a business that's new to them. There is no shame in that.

But there are bits of his tenure that are full of shame. And, finally, his feet may be in the process of being held to the fire for being a thin-skinned wanker who wants to be able to control what everyone in the world thinks of him, even if he has to resort to some fairly dickheaded actions. Atrios, who is linked above, has the most coherent set of links and, of course, you should follow them to South Knox Bubba, whose clear writing skillz and general sensible-ness I've long admired. The most recent take on the sitch is here.

For the longest time -- and given that Conley has long been a very large frog, due to both business interests and family wealth, in a very small, Southern pond -- he's been able to expect a certain amount of deference from folks whose livelihoods he holds in his hands. However, it'll be interesting to see if he can continue to use the same strategies (like emailed threats for anyone who happens to disagree with him as well as using the paper he owns to control and/or influence the words of others) to get what he wants once the blogosphere gets a hold of the story. Which has already started, especially since some of the issues (like anonymity and free speech) do concern the internets as a whole. Or it may just die a quick death and I'll be getting my threatening email any minute now. Or not. I was always a small fish, and have gotten smaller in his milieu since I've left.


If you take nothing else from this, however, start reading SKB's blog. It's well worth your time.


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