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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Finding Your Alternative News Weekly

Friday, July 06, 2007

Among other important facts one must collect upon arriving to live in a new locale, there is the matter of the alternative news weekly. These papers are a noxious blend of valuable community information and unadulterated smut. You can do a lot worse than the free alt weekly for finding the best cheap eats in your part of town or a solid live music venue. When I lived in Kansas City, The Pitch Weekly was my go-to-guy when I wanted to find some place off the beaten path.

And while the Pitch was not-too-recently added to entourage of alternative news weeklies owned by The New Times, resulting in a noticeable downturn in the smut and just as noticeable up tick in national advertising, there are no New Times publications in the Inland Empire. There's one in Los Angeles, but not here. Here it's Southland Publishing, Inc. that runs that show, including, most importantly, Inland Empire Weekly.

Yesterday we had our first exposure to IE weekly, and it didn't disappoint. Here is a return to the pre-conglomerate levels of half-page, half-naked ads for "personal" services. And here is the exhaustive, angry journalism so savored by those who, as they say, read it for the articles.

The cover story for this week, written by David Silva, is about the city of Riverside's use of Eminant Domain suits to acquire property for developers. It's a classic piece of advocacy journalism, delicious to read as a sort of guilty pleasure. The villain in the story is Riverside City Council member Dom Betro, the man practically marching low-income families out of their homes in the middle of the night to have a strip mall in place by morning. Here's the money quote:

First a quotation of Betro:
First of all, we have gone as far as we can possibly go to say that we in the city of Riverside will not take a privately owned residence under any circumstance. You need to separate that out, the private home, which is what most citizens are concerned about. We passed a resolution of necessity—we have about 20 properties that we passed a resolution of necessity on. We said we want this property; we want to enter into negotiations with the owners. If the negotiations fail, we'll go into court to get it. Every single one of those has sold. We have not had to go to court to enact an eminent domain decision. We do not have one property that has been taken as a result of legal court action.

Then Silva's editorial addition:

Respectfully to Mr. Betro—who at least had the courage to return our call—but that's absolute bullshit.

That, my friends, is what you read the alt weekly for. Silva goes on to rebut Betro's "Betrospeak," but in a manner that didn't really convince this newbie reader. But the value in the IE Weekly and papers like it is not its ability to coerce and persuade readers. It's the ability to put community issues on the map and to inform the citizenry of the players involved in a way that the dailies don't do as well.

For example, through the article I learned about a website dedicated to opposing the city's Eminent Domain efforts. The publisher of the site hosts protests around town in a gorilla costume. Now, when I see that spectacle, I'll know what's going on.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:49 AM

3 Comments:

I would like to see him protest in that get up during the heat wave you find yourself in! ;)
commented by Blogger Michael, 10:54 PM  
Hi, I just read the blog about David Silva's article about Riverside's anti-ED group. You acually got the link wrong. The group that was staging the protests in the gorilla outfit was Save-Riverside (saveriverside.com and saveriverside.org)not the site you have a link to.

Paul Odekirk
Save-Riverside
commented by Blogger Save-Riverside, 3:49 PM  
Save Riverside,

Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the clarification.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 10:14 PM  

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