Thursday, July 19, 2012

Corporal Gripweed: A "Ghost" of its Former Self

The "Spirit" has been rapidly sliding into irrelevancy
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Corporal Gripweed

"Augusta's Independent Voice since 1989"
                Metro Spirit.

I've lived in Augusta all my life. And when The Metropolitan Spirit first showed up on the streets of town in 1989, a lot of Augustans were excited. Finally an alternative paper appeared to give voice to those who wanted to read local issues not covered, or worse, covered poorly by the daily of record.

Through different publishers and editors the paper has managed to stay in print , notwithstanding a few weeks when it was shut down last year. It soon reappeared under the stewardship of former publisher Joe White. I've been a mostly loyal reader. I'm from the old school. I like to have a hard copy in my hands rather then spending all my time tied to a computer screen, so when I could I'd pick up a copy to thumb through; it became a part of a weekly routine.

This week I've had enough. It's time to say "when". When I saw this weeks "Insider" column I knew then that the time had come. Not just because of that column, although  it was  the straw that broke the camel's back for me. It's been a long time coming. It's no secret that the Metro Spirit has become increasingly irrelevant in recent years. It went from being an in depth, investigative paper from the days of original publisher David Vantrease and editor Tom Grant's tenure, to being nothing more than a fatter "Verge", or a skinnier Chronicle, without the good comics
 So why even bother anymore?

Cases in point. The New York Times crossword? Big deal. The "hippy-dippy horoscope?" I can get it online. National political commentary? Let's just say the columnist who has been trying to do THAT the last few weeks has been sophomoric bordering on the idiotic. I won't further embarrass him by naming him, but his byline states that he was ,"once the most un-intimidating bouncer at the Soul Bar". Okay….If I want to listen to those kinds of rants I'll just watch MSNBC for a few minutes.

Downtown happenings? A map in the centerfold with a bunch of pictures and arrows ain't cutting it either. Austin Rhodes? While I'm a conservative and generally agree with him, I can listen to his show to get his take on things, rendering the Spirit irrelevant yet again. Even the whines have lost their luster.  They've become mostly redundant bemoaning things like the  smell in south Augusta and the number of fat women in local bars. Yeah, that's original, and obviously indicates the overall drop in IQ points of the average Metro Spirit reader.

But what really turned me away was, as I mentioned earlier, this weeks Insider. In the old days you could count on the Insider (or at least the paper in general) to be of the sort of advocate that spoke truth to power. Goodness knows Augusta needs more of that these days.
Those days are gone.  It has become apparent to me and many of us at and Augusta Today, that publisher Joe White and, in particular news editor Eric Johnson have obviously decided to take a different tack: That of ridiculing those of us who only ask for transparency and truth from public officials.

They have once again taken aim at our own Lori Davis in an attempt to paint her, and by extension, the rest of us, as rabble- rousing nut jobs who should just let Billy Morris, Paul Simon, Deke Copenhaver, Fred Russell, Margaret Woodard and half the Commission continue to run the city as their own little fiefdom. Obviously Joe and Eric think that the Morris/Simon Consortium knows what's best for Augusta than we as average Augustans do.

A part of me can understand their frustration. They haven't broken a hard hitting story in years. Instead, they've had to rely on people like us to do the dirty work to which they then report on the aftermath. So there probably is a bit of "journalistic jealousy". That, combined with the undeniable fact that print media is dying and they are firmly in the crosshairs of that impending reality. But to continue to call themselves an "independent voice" is laughable.

As I said, print media is dying and I'm going  do my part by not picking up the Metro Spirit anymore. The death of this publication can't come quickly enough for me, nor can it come quickly enough for those of us in Augusta who want the REAL truth. Maybe another publication will come along soon to fill the void and give us that truth, not the truth as seen by Joe White and Eric Johnson. ***

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