Commentary

$15,000 — Oh Really?

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Last week, the Freekly’s cover illustration of a sledgehammer in close proximity to one of Fayetteville’s new parking pay stations near Dickson Street drew the attention of city government. No actual pay stations were harmed in the photo shoot, though $2 was fed in the machines in the process of getting pics.
The image netted a phone message Thursday from Don Marr, the mayor’s chief of staff, implying TFW was inciting a call for vandalism against the park-o-trons. An informal poll among area 5-year-olds came back unanimously with the response “Are you kidding me?”
Late Friday, the city whipped out a carefully timed news release screeching about $15,000 in damages to the e-meters, warning of felony arrests and threatening lot closures. Television stations and the Fayetteville Flyer — erroneously referred to as “news sources” — ran with the official line without bothering to verify the damage or even ask any questions. Fact gathering? Not on a Friday night, baby!
So, reporters at the Northwest Arkansas Times did some actual work. They asked a question.
The answer: $451.
Yeah, that’s the actual amount of damage prior to the news release that Fayetteville police were able to verify. Police put the original $15,000 estimate on the parking department; the parking department in turn blamed the number on police.
Vandalism stinks — no matter the amount. But city government over-reacting by sending out erroneous information in what had to be a calculated move to make a point? Well, that doesn’t just stink. That’s a betrayal of the public trust.

Results:

  • The vandals — Fail. Cut it out or I’m telling your moms.
  • The “news sources” — big Fail. Hey, TV, stick with what you do best — regurgitating the stories that ran in that day’s newspaper.
  • The city — Epic Fail. You really embarrassed yourselves on that one — and that’s coming from the people who made the mistake of printing a Dan Savage column.

Everybody Wins! — Except Bentonville

In the quest to lure the Walton Arts Center eetteville, the Marinoni family is putting up 108 acres for a new site with 10 of those acres — a $4.5 million value — for free.

Result: Win-Win-Win, if it works. The WAC gets a great new site at a discounted price, Fayetteville improves on an important part of its arts and entertainment draw and the Marinonis rightfully make a few bucks.

The Naked Truth

Jimmy Don Engleman is being accused of attempting to blackmail a married teacher by threatening to send nude pictures of her to her husband and workplace. Even though police recorded a pretty damning phone conversation, Jimmy Don is claiming he didn’t do no nuthin’ wrong. He says the $2,000 he asked her for was repayment, and he’d been seeing the woman for a couple of months. Jimmy Don cited a former roommate as an alibi but wouldn’t give police the roommate’s contact information.

Result:
Jimmy Don — Fail. Dude, in addition to lacking class, you have to come up with a better cover story than that.
The teacher — Fail and Win! For Fail, this is an object lesson for everyone out there: Never let naked pictures of yourself out of your control. But Win! for having the guts to put the kibosh on this dirtbag instead of just paying up.

17 Comments

Morgan August 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Okay, this was almost cute but you lost pretty much everyone when you overdid it and then really lost us all when you called the Fayetteville Flyer a “non” news source. I read things at the FF that are, indeed, news to me. They report stuff there just like you do in your rag. So my question for you now is what makes you a “news source” and the Fayetteville Flyer a “non” news source? Not that I am expecting an answer.

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rdavis August 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm

First, I notice there was no rush to defend television stations. Just an observation :D

I kinda like it when news sources bother to check the facts instead of passing along news releases from city government virtually verbatim. News sources also tend to correct their mistakes or follow up on stories. If you read only the Fayetteville Flyer, you’d still assume that $15,000 worth of damage was done to the pay parking system in the entertainment district. This is false. The actual damage done prior to the news release was less than $500.

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Morgan August 27, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Pretty much what I expected. For the record I live with a fabulous long-term employee of the local newspaper. My brother was a long-term newspaper employee. I’m a huge fan of the printed newspaper, always have been, always will be. I will never be a fan of the weekly rag you are in charge of now for precisely that reason – you are in charge of it. This story, and your attitude, reek of a number of things, all of them less pleasant than my son’s smelly sweatsocks piled under his bed. I could rebut your reply but I don’t see the point. And I notice I was correct, you didn’t bother with a response to the question I asked but instead attempted to dance around it like some insecure junior high nerd. Pretty much exactly what I expected.

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Your mom August 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Fail.

Taking potshots at tv stations and non-deadtree news sources? That’s something new for “newspapers.”

Being bitchy won’t make you Gawker. Being printed on dead trees won’t make you worth reading.

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rdavis August 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Dang it, mom! Why do you always disapprove?!!! :D

And passing along news releases from government entities without checking the facts makes you a mouthpiece.

Also, from now on, the Freekly will only be printed on live trees.

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McTrigger August 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Man, there’s really some venom on here. I must have struck a nerve. It’s OK, keep posting on here while newspaper reporters keep finding out the facts for you.

And hey, if you don’t work for the Flyer or TV stations, you should give the newspapers a call and thank them for maintaining some standard of journalism in NWA. But if you do work for those other “fine” media outlets, then I guess you can go back to watching soap operas or hanging at the food court or whatever.

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Terrible August 29, 2010 at 1:32 pm

First time to this website. Extremely disappointed and i can promise I will not be back. You got absolutely nothing on the flyer and based on your condescending, dismissive comments, I have a feeling you are finally starting to realize that.

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Lucy August 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I like the Flyer because it keeps the community up to date on local issues as well as events that otherwise would go by woefully under-promoted. And they don’t treat their readers like inferior idiots as you, TFW, so often do. Here’s a tip: don’t talk down to your audience, especially in the comments section. It just makes you look like an asshole.

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Boggy Creek Creature September 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm

@Mr. Davis – Mrs. Creature and I were hoping to see Todd or Dustin at the fair Tuesday, so I sent a text inquiring about their attendance. Unfortunately, Dustin was still working and Todd was stuck at a city council meeting with no end in sight. I sincerely doubt that you were at that meeting, sir. Or anyone else from your newspaper.
Perhaps you should be concentrating on being active in our city government rather than just screaming from the sidelines about other publications. All of your choices regarding the “hip” new look for the Free Weekly just come off as desperate and sad, but all of that pales in comparison to your unprovoked attacks on your competition. If you had such a problem with how the Flyer handled the particular situation, there were plenty of ways to express your opinions that didn’t involve petty name calling.

Your medium may be dying, sir, but it doesn’t have to do it without dignity.

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rdavis September 1, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Indeed, I was not at the city council agenda session. As a one-man operation, I too have to make choices regarding my time. Look for me at the Sept. 7 council meeting.

If you look at the full “$15,000 – Oh Really,” the commentary was about city government and the over-reaction to reports of vandalism to parking stations — over-reactions that included threats of felony arrests and shutting down parking lots. And yes, that included jabs – a love tap, really – at TV stations and the Flyer for regurgitating the city’s precisely timed news release without verifying the facts.

The jab at the media was born out of frustration – not desperation. Frustration at taking the easy way out — from television stations to radio to bloggers to websites to newspapers. Yes, newspapers – hell #$%&ing yes newspapers. But in this case, newspapers got it right. If there’s one thing print folks have generally learned, it’s to be paranoid about late Friday news releases.

The print medium is not dying, anymore than it did when radio and television come along. It’s evolving beyond publication on paper, and the Flyer is part of that evolution, using words in equal measure with photographs and video in a Web-only format. Like any change, that adaptation includes growing pains. Believe me, I understand about growing pains. Part of that is learning to roll with the punches and not to take it too seriously when a buddy or competitor tags you on the arm.

BTW, thanks for commenting on here, Boggy. I enjoy a good, rational dialogue. It’s really hard to have a conversation when the entire post consists of “You suck balls.”

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