Biggest media winner in the Bill Clinton scandal: irreverent columnist Matt Drudge, whose sporadic Internet newsletter first broke the story of Monica Lewinsky’s tapes and accurately described, long before anyone else, both the semen-stained dress and Lewinsky’s inventive use of cigars.
Biggest loser: press pundit Steve Brill, who recently launched his media criticism magazine, Brill’s Content, with a self-righteous scolding of the press for reporting all those anonymous stories about Clintonstories that have now turned out to be true.
So here’s the latest from Drudge, posted Monday afternoon:
“The Drudge Report has obtained a secret White House video that shows President Clinton sneaking into a private space just off the Oval Office (the same area where Monica Lewinsky serviced Clinton) with another White House intern....”
Maybe in a few weeks, the rest of the press will catch up.
Tip to Ms. Cheap
Once again, The Tennessean is giving away thousands of free papers to boost circulation and, presumably, to help justify the paper’s recent 4- percent increase in ad rates, the first rate hike since the Nashville Banner closed in February.
Starting this week, many Tennessean subscribers who pay only $8.80 a month for the Saturday and Sunday papers began receiving the Monday-through-Friday papers at no extra charge. The normal price for seven-day delivery is $14.00.
A Tennessean customer representative said telemarketers are calling weekend-only subscribers “at random” to offer free, weekday papers for up to six months.
Newspaper advertising rates are based, in part, on “paid circulation,” as determined by the Chicago-based Audit Bureau of Circulations. An ABC spokesperson said that, under the Bureau’s rules, the free papers count as paid circulation as long as the customer has affirmatively agreed to accept the extra issues.
Thanks to the morning daily’s latest offer, the Scene’s media critic is now getting free copies of The Tennessean, Monday through Friday, until March 13, 1999. I suggest other subscribers call the paper and demand the same deal. A customer representative said the paper “wouldn’t necessarily” offer current seven-day subscribers the reduced rate of $8.80 but added, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.”
And if $8.80 is still too much, try The Tennessean’s improved Web site http://www.tennessean.com.
It now includes, for the first time, selected news stories from the morning paper. It’s free every day.
Gannett Company nemesis, author Richard McCord, whose last scheduled appearance before local journalists was canceled following objections from Tennessean editors, has been re-invited to speak Friday, Oct. 9, to the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
McCord’s 1996 book, The Chain Gang, details illegal and unethical business practices by Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain and corporate owner of The Tennessean.
His March appearance before SPJ was called off after some SPJ board members, including two Tennessean staffers, complained that McCord should not be allowed to speak except in a panel-style format that included opposing viewpoints.
McCord, however, said that Gannett executives have consistently declined to appear with him on any programs to discuss his book and that employees of Gannett-owned newspapers typically boycott his speeches to SPJ chapters.
Tennessean publisher Craig Moon has accused McCord of “having an ax to grind against Gannett,” and Tennessean managing editor Dave Green told SPJ board members in March that he would not permit any Tennessean staffer to participate in a panel discussion with McCord.
SPJ president and Scene political writer Liz Murray Garrigan arranged McCord’s aborted visit last spring but has now passed the McCord hot potato to chapter vice president Thom Storey.
Storey said McCord will appear alone but will answer questions “from anyone in the audience who wants to refute or comment upon what he’s saying.”
“An organization of journalists ought to be willing to hear controversial views and decide for themselves what they think,” said Storey, who is chairman of the Communication Arts Department at Belmont University and travel editor at The Tennessean.
Storey said the 4 p.m. speech, followed by a reception, will be held at Belmont and is open to the public. Call 460-6198 for reservations.
Odds and ends
A WKRN-Channel 2 photographer arrested for disorderly conduct last week while taping an accident on Interstate 40 has apologized to police, according to Metro Police Department spokesman Don Aaron, who predicted that charges against the journalist would probably be dropped.
Photographer Todd Dunn was arrested after refusing to move away from the accident scene as ordered by police. Other media witnesses said the confrontation arose because Dunn and an officer “were both acting like jerks.”
♦ When Tennessean reporter Sylvia Slaughter said she was writing a feature article on the Nashville Rowing Club, local attorney Bob Tuke spent more than an hour with her, explaining, among other things, the difference between “sculling” and “rowing” and demonstrating his skill in a slender double scull. He even gave her a glossary of terms to study.
It didn’t take. In captions and text, Slaughter’s splashy story in last Wednesday’s paper just called them all “rowboats.”
To comment or complain about the media, leave a message for Henry at the Scene (244-7989, ext. 445), call him at his office, 252-2363, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.