The Scene Entertains Me

Well, it does. I find their nasty, sarcastic take on things teetering between hilarious and irritating , depends on what sort of mood I’m in on any given day. In my personal opinion, Sarcastro proves you can do nasty and sarcastic without also being infuriating. (At least so far.)

One part I never find funny about our beloved weekly rag though…. they like to print reader letters with pithy little headers above each. The editors add their tag on the reader comments making their own opinion clear. Now granted, whoever does these is very good at it. It takes a lot of skill to completely disarm another person’s argument/tirade and insinuate they have the intelligence of a box of dirt in five words or less. But it’s like a smug little inside joke where they’re inviting everyone to laugh along with them at this poor sap who thought he could challenge something the Scene put out there. I would think you should encourage rather than insult people who read your paper and are engaged enough to write in, but I guess when you publish for free it’s a lot harder to drive your readers away.

They’ve always billed themselves as opposition to every other media outlet in town. The Tennessean (and the weekly publication All The Rage) bears the brunt of their criticism, but I’ve seen The City Paper, various local television stations, and even the occasional radio show take hits from them. Now I don’t have any problem with that. But when I saw the newest shot in this little media war, in the form of this weeks tagline on the cover, I just couldn’t resist.

How arrogant corporate tools like E.J. Mitchell are destroying your newspaper – and why Gannett is laughing all the way to the bank
That’s pretty much a fastball at the head of the Tennessean. That’s not where the problem comes in though. I just find it amusing that a publication with a role in the Nashville media world defined by criticism of the competition, can’t take criticism itself. I’m referring to the whole blogworld dustup over Bill Hobbs. I’m not going to recap it, but it started as another blogs criticism of Bill Hobbs. During a slow news week one of the Scene’s political columnists picked it up and a blogger got fired from his day job for it. The predictable result was a lot of irate bloggers, and nasty comments on the Scene’s own blog and various other area blogs. (They blame those on other bloggers, but I think they either don’t realize, or are avoiding, the fact that not that many of their readers are bloggers, but most of them have web access.)

I don’t even hold it against them that they got a blogger fired. To quote Roger Abrams, “it’s like firing a bazooka at a housefly”. But it’s their bazooka, so go for it. What I do criticize them for, is their reaction to the storm of criticism that came out of the local blog world after Hobbs was fired.

Did they just ignore the blathering of the blogging rabble? They are respected journalists, after all. Hell no they didn’t ignore it. (Like the Tennessean seems to ignore their criticism.) The editor and the writer who did the blogger take down story circled the wagons and pulled out their machine guns. They used their well read (at least compared to most local blogs) platform to take pot shots at bloggers and insinuate that we’re all living in our mother’s basements because we don’t have day jobs and typing one handed. The kicker line was when the editor, on page 2, smugly mentions getting a man fired and at the same time insults bloggers everywhere.

How many bloggers actually have job? We don’t know, except to say one fewer now than before.

I have to say, it was nice to see some media acknowledgement of blogs, but the whole thing smacked of hyper defensiveness and over reaction. The appropriate response would have either been to ignore it as beneath their notice. Or, since they obviously felt the need to defend themselves, a rational explanation of why the story was done. Resulting to the role of playground bully really does nothing for their credibility..

Sarcasm and name calling is a lot more typical of the Scene than rational explanations, but people that make their living criticizing others really should be able to take a little criticism as well.

When it’s all said and done, I read the Scene much more often than the Tennessean. And that’s only partly because it’s free. But today I’m irritated.


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