Brugmann's Brain Vomit

Cleaning up the latest drivel from San Francisco's leading bull-goose loony

"[It's] not surprising," continued Chester, "given that advertising is the business model."

Chester's got us there. I don't know what trust fund cuts his checks, but advertising pays our bills and the bills of every single alternative newspaper. It also pays New Times writers a living wage and covers the cost of eyeglasses our kids need, medical coverage for domestic partners, paid vacations . . . well, you get the idea.

As for the Gannett comparison, my hometown has a Gannett paper. It reads better than the Bay Guardian.

But other than that, I think critics who compare us with Gannett offer the bitter rant of folks who have memorized speeches from Air America without ever actually reading our newspapers. The presumption is that growth and success -- particularly financial success -- are evil. The reality is that more than half the papers in AAN are part of a larger organization, and these groups generally have more journalism resources than the stand-alones.

At New Times, our writers have a virtual blank check to explore the issues in their communities without the burden of a political agenda (mine or their editor's). As a result, our reporters break stories that later rip through the mainstream media.

The disgrace of the serial rapes at the Air Force Academy in Colorado first saw the light of day in our Denver paper. In Cleveland, we recently published grand jury documents that the daily sat on. In Phoenix, our writers broke the polygamy scandal in the Mormon sect on the Utah/Arizona border, as well as the stories about poor people submitting to unnecessary surgery so that doctors and patients both -- but particularly the doctors -- could swindle insurance companies. You've read about all these stories in national dailies. Bob Norman, one of our writers in Fort Lauderdale, was recently selected as the best in the country by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

We have also pursued law enforcement records through the courts in Phoenix, not for weeks or months, but for years. We have successfully pursued the right to parody the establishment all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. And our writers have pursued their stories to Sakhalin Island, Mexico, Haiti, and Cuba.

Don't confuse our growth with our jones for journalism. I got in this business in 1970 to raise a little hell. I try to stay at it by writing myself, and it usually isn't a tedious screed like this.

Jane Levine, a former publisher of the altweekly Chicago Reader, told the Boston Phoenix media columnist her opinion of New Times: "I think they're committed to uncovering wrongdoing. It is generally accepted that they don't have a political position. But I think it's pretty clear that they're bulldogs about uncovering corporate or government malfeasance. That's alternative. I don't know whether it's Republican or Democrat."

That sounds mostly correct. We here at New Times don't forgive anyone his trespasses. We like to compete. We bring our lunch bucket and our shot glass. We expect our colleagues to do the same. We hope that folks will have a mess of fun on the way.

That's not Gannett; that's New Times.

And just supposing the rumors were true. What would that mean for the Village Voice? The New York publication is a newspaper that in recent times survived owners like Rupert Murdoch, Leonard Stern, and, for the past several years, Wall Street. If David Schneiderman were to team up with a couple of Irish guys, I've got to think it's a step in the right direction. Or, at least, it is not the end of Western civilization.

But I could be wrong about that, too.

Contact Michael Lacey at

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