MEDIA MASH: A Compilation of Media Musings
Shell Oil and Mother Jones? Strange BedfellowsThe other day the Masher received an e-mail which read in part:"Check out this horrible PR campaign. Mojo Wire (www.motherjones.com) has allowed Shell to place a banner ad on their site. Have they no standards? Anything for a buck, huh? Expose Masher, expose." Hmmm. The e-mail writer, quite a good activist, expected the Masher to agree that Mother Jones is bad because Shell is bad. (By the way, full disclosure, the Masher worked at Mother Jones 10 years ago.) However, the Masher does not completely agree. Independent publishing is expensive, especially without an advertising base, and booze, cigarettes and sex pay for a lot of what we read and keep a lot of good journalists fed. Is that good? No. Is it necessary? Probably.I asked Mother Jones about their approach. The producer of Mojo Wire, Brooke Shelby Biggs, provided an editor's note on the site, part of which reads: "While we reserve the right to reject advertising we believe false, libelous, or hateful, we respect and value the right of free expression. Therefore we do not censor ads or attempt to shield our readers from messages with which they (or we) might differ. Our primary goal is to provide readers with the most comprehensive information possible and allow them to make their own informed judgments." Publisher Jay Harris explained that "when Shell first ran a test of their banners on our site in July and August, we put them up with the editor's note and links to various activist sites with things to say about Shell. The volume of visits to those linked sites was almost the same as the traffic to Shell's site. It's safe to say that Shell has the money to put forth its point of view quite visibly in almost any medium it chooses. I'm happy that MoJo not only has a contrary editorial point of view, but is using the controversy over the Shell ads to heighten the visibility of the activists who have been fighting Shell."This sounds pretty smart to the Masher. Kind of publishing jujitsu.Psychic Dixon an FBI PawnIn case you missed it, the New York Daily News reported that celebrity psychic Jeane Dixon worked secretly for the FBI in the 1960s using bureau secrets in her speeches and writings to try to undermine the civil rights and anti-war movement. This is all according to documents obtained by the Web site www.APBnews.com under the Freedom of Information Act. Recall, of course, that Dixon was an advisor to Nancy Reagan and in some of her speeches she blamed the Soviet Union for masterminding the civil rights movement. You can imagine Dixon predicting that civil rights leaders and activist were going to get busted or have a hard time, because she knew they were targeted by the Feds. Yuck.More on the Voice Chain SaleThe Masher thought the quasi-insider Village Voice sale was all smooth and dandy, but in the Voice's "Press Clips" (www.villagevoice.com/issues/0002/cotts.shtml) Cynthia Cotts uncovers the fact that New Times was in the running to purchase the Stern chain right up until the end, with big bucks from Roger Altman who now owns the big three of the supermarket tabloids -- The National Examiner, the Star, and the Weekly World News. As Cotts outlines, there are a lot of questions left unanswered. But one thing seems fairly sure; without Art Howe, the new president of the new Village Voice Media, there now would likely be the New Times Voice or the Village Voice New Times. Phew.