Was the Flash the only Republic skimmer who found irony in Steve Wilson's October 15 column? Hair Boy moaned that Mark Willes, an economist by training who sits as CEO of Times-Mirror, was destroying the integrity of the Los Angeles Times by "cutting jobs by the hundreds and raising profits at the company's newspapers."
Wilson apparently had forgotten that Phoenix Newspapers Inc. euthanized the Phoenix Gazette in January and executed more than 100 employees.
PNI's parent company was rewarded handsomely for its innovative employee relations: Net income soared to $40 million in the first half of 1997 as compared to a piddling $22.8 million for the same period last year.
Wilson reported that the LA Times' principled editor "resigned rather than implement policies ordered by Willes that will make marketing executives more involved in news planning." He lamented the certain increase in advertiser influence on news coverage.
Hair Boy apparently had forgotten that PNI's consumer marketing manager, J. Lynn Town, not so long ago told an industry conference, "We have come to the conclusion that breaking news is not the best way to grow our business."
Town claimed that "a lot of people in editorial are exhilarated by the idea of also being marketing people."
"'I believe our industry overall is seeing the need for editors to also become good marketers," Town told the conference. At PNI, she went on, publisher John Oppedahl not only encourages the process but "frequently insists that editors refine marketing's role in the newsroom."
The day after Wilson's column appeared, the Republic ran a front-page story about (the Flash is not making this up) how wise and enjoyable it is to use coupons.
Wilson is rumored to be a candidate to become editor of the Republic's editorial pages. He won't get the job if he keeps writing unflattering things about newspaper executives who ape Republic tactics.
But Will They Jump?
Apparently taking a cue from the Republic, the parent company of the Mesa Tribune, Thomson Newspapers, announced recently that its papers will begin selling advertising space on the front page. The Flash is hoping for impotency-cure ads.
This abomination was noted (among other places) in the Republic's in-house propaganda sheet, Inside.
For the record, the Republic recently started selling ad space on its hallowed op-ed page. Mercedes-Benz is the most frequent client.
Charles Barkley's antipathy toward former teammate Kevin Johnson and the Phoenix press apparently hasn't softened much since Barkley's departure for Houston.
The Tribune's reporter on the Suns beat, Mike Tulumello, reported Monday that Barkley unleashed a tirade against an unidentified reporter before the Rockets played the Suns Sunday in Tucson.
The Chuckster's big gripe was preferential treatment he claimed Johnson received from the Phoenix press this spring in the wake of allegations that KJ had been intimate with a teenage girl.
"I wish you had caught me taking a shower with a 17-year-old girl. Y'all would have nailed me to the cross," Barkley was quoted as saying. "I know how you good ol' boys are. Y'all protect your Uncle Tom brothers. I'm a strong black man. I know that may offend you.
"If I take a shower with a 17-year-old girl, y'all are going to (expletive) crucify me," Sir Charles said, then added sarcastically, "But (Johnson is) a good guy."
Told of Barkley's remarks KJ reportedly smiled and said, "I love Charles. What am I going to say?"
Rocket star Clyde Drexler overhead Barkley's rant, and was quoted as saying, "Kevin is a good guy."
In May, New Times wrote the book on KJ's relationship with a teenager (she was actually 16 at the time her alleged encounters with KJ took place). Police investigated but no charges ever were filed.
The Trib followed New Times' piece with a front-page version of its own. The Republic ran a six-sentence denial from KJ, without disclosing details contained in a massive police report. A short time later, the Republic's Reader Advocate (editorial excuse-maker) Richard DeUriarte, wrote a thoughtful column in which he advocated that the whole imbroglio wasn't newsworthy.
All My Best, Suckers
Remember Sheriff Joke Arpaio's "autobiography?" You know, America's Toughest Sheriff, the book by Arpaio which he admitted in a deposition that he's never actually read?
It seems the Crime Avenger is still desperate to make the bestsellers list.
Or so it appears, judging by the pile of the books the Flash found recently at a Waldenbooks in the Los Arcos Mall, each copy signed by the Joke himself.
Store employees say that one day the Sher came in unannounced, and, speaking to no one, proceeded to sign all the America's Toughest Sheriff books in the place, then walked out.
The Joke's next strategy: Complementary frisking.
Joke's Lie of the Week
Speaking of the Joke's manifesto, here's a quote from America's Toughest Sheriff that Arpaio ought to read:
"I'll talk to any reporter who walks through my door and asks a question. That's been my policy since I was elected, and I don't see any reason to change, no matter what the media chooses to print or broadcast. I believe in the First Amendment. I believe in the people's right to know exactly what their elected officials are doing. I believe in full disclosure.
"A reporter can give me his best shot today, and phone my office tomorrow, knowing I'll take his call."
Like our ill-fated, feloneous former governor, Arpaio refuses to talk to New Times reporters. It's been more than a year since Joke's taken one of our calls.
When we call Joke, all we hear is clucking.
What Do You Mean, Maybe?
Staffers at Sheriff Joke's elite political machine have to pass even more rigorous tests than the Flash had previously realized.
A member of the Jokester's big happy family tells us that she had to take a polygraph test before being hired. Not uncommon in today's job market, although a couple of questions were.
"Have you ever had sex with a woman?" she says she was asked. Then, "Have you ever had sex with an animal?"
Joke obviously knows what counts in an employee. But while his admirers probably share his feelings about lesbianism, he risks alienating a significant number of them with his implied disapproval of bestiality.
Suggested new query for the polygrapher: "Have you ever killed anyone in your custody?"