The Blooper Reel
Last Thursday, on a scorching July day, our paper of record reported how the police department was planning to clear local roads in "advance of tonight's forecasted snowfall." The daily later took down its scoop, which, in hindsight, wasn't nearly as bad a call as when it once referred to Boots Del Biaggio as a "hero."
The day after it told us about summertime flurries, the paper didn't exactly tighten its grip on its web content, running an online story about a Brentwood boutique offering a "40 percent sale on summer dresses, tops, shorts, sandals, handbags, belts and more." This fine piece of journalism, complete with byline, which was originally linked to on the paper's main page as a news story, even included contact information for the store. The next time you have a garage sale, don't talk to an ad rep, call a reporter.
We don't know what's going on at 1100 Broadway, but even by The Tennesseean's ungainly standards, it's been an abysmal, if not downright bizarre, few weeks. We called and emailed Tennessean editor Mark Silverman for comment, but haven't heard a word back. Usually, the loyal Gannett man is a stand-up interview, even if he doesn't always help his cause. But this time he probably figured he couldn't begin to explain why, when his paper is not predicting snow and writing ad copy, it's ignoring the biggest stories in the city.
Last Thursday, Metro Police officers arrested Kelley Cannon for the murder of her estranged husband who in late June was found strangled and stuffed in a closet in the couple's $650,000 home off West End. The circumstances of the murder, while undeniably tragic, should intrigue any decent journalist. Jim, the husband, was a successful attorney, while the wife, a former prom queen and a onetime aide to former Gov. Ned Ray McWherter, had turned into a rail-thin drug abuser prone to sudden bouts of rage. At the time of his death, Jim Cannon lived with the couple's three children in the same stately neighborhood as former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist and current U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander.
If you're trying to get people to read your paper, you report this story. WTVF-Channel 5, along with the rag you're reading now, have chronicled the attorney's murder from day one, while Dateline NBC is looking into the crime as well. But The Tennessean could barely be bothered to write a word about it. The paper has never reported the contents of the couple's revelatory divorce file—which included documentation of her adventures with prescription drugs—and stranger yet, the day after the police arrested Cannon, The Tennessean didn't see fit to cover it.
Our Gannett daily ignores stories about policy too. Last Monday, both the Scene and The City Paper reported on the grimy details of Pedro Garcia's recently uncovered memo, which cast school board chair Marsha Warden as the Stepford wife of Orval Faubus. Garcia, the former schools director, also portrayed the school district as awash in racial tension, with parents and teachers avidly conspiring to move black kids out of white schools. The Tennessean reported nothing until a day later. Even then it banished news of the memo to a back-page column by Dwight Lewis. Not the type of writer who can be trusted with a scoop, Lewis overlooked the most damning parts of Garcia's missive, which threatened to topple the approval of the school board's new resegregation—scratch—rezoning plan.
Oddly, Lewis let on that he had the memo in his hands before any of us, writing that he called Garcia for comment on Sunday. So why wait two more days and fall behind not one, but two newspapers? Wouldn't it have made more sense to report on what the former schools director was saying about the divisive rezoning plan well before the school board was to vote on the measure? As it was, The Tennessean didn't delve into the salient details of Garcia's memo until Wednesday, after the board voted 5-4 to approve the plan.
What's so frustrating about The Tennessean under Mark Silverman is that, like a listless slugger prone to a rash of strikeouts, it can occasionally hit one deep. Sunday, The Tennessean's Brad Schrade wrote an important story on how William "Boots" Del Biaggio III was conspiring to move the Nashville Predators—even as Metro officials were looking into handing the team millions of public dollars to remain in town. Schrade, who first broke the news that the team's new owners were going to hit the city up for a cushy new lease on the downtown arena last summer, reported on the secret details of Biaggio's clumsy scheme. The part-owner's plan was to lure investors by convincing them that he would be able to relocate the expansion franchise to another city, presumably so that it could one day turn a profit.
Schrade's story was exactly what we should read more often in The Tennessean. Granted, the paper might have told us what Boots was up to before the Metro Council voted in April to hand the team a multimillion-dollar subsidy, while it was slashing budgets for nearly every other city department. But unfortunately, Schrade was on leave at the time and the paper had no other reporter who could have dug up that kind of behind-the-scenes story.
But maybe timing is overrated in journalism these days. So long as you can cover a sale as it happens, everything else is extra credit.
It's overdue, but I'm glad it's in progress. I still don't understand, with the information…
Past time Nashville Metro, Get ya head outta ya ass and do the right thing,…
It's about time he was arrested.
TEBOW! TEBOW! TEBOW! TEBow! TEbow. Tebow....Teb....T....
@Elizzmo: What? You think a swat on the bottom of a misbehaving child is cruel?…