A month and half ago Brick Weekly approached me about writing some sort of weekly or bi-weekly piece for their publication. Brick Weekly is a part of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and it is supposed to be their version of a free alternative weekly paper (Basically it's the competitor for Style Weekly).
I met with some people from Brick and we seemed to have worked out some sort of deal for me to write a bartender confessional piece once a week. Sort of a behind the scenes, pull no punches look at bartending. I liked the people I met and it seemed like a cool way to get my writing to a larger audience. I figured that any weekly paper that would let the hilarious and often abrasive Jacob Lee write entertainment reviews, would surely accept an honest and open blogging bartender.
I mentioned my new gig to a few friends who are in the news industry or who seemed to know a lot about the industry. They all said the same thing; Brick is a sinking ship and the RTD is on very shaky ground right now. (There is even a blog devoted solely to why the RTD is dying). One friend who used to work for the Times-Dispatch called Brick an advertorial, which as I understand it, basically means that Brick is 24 pages of revenue generating ads with a few stories or news pieces thrown in to make it look legit. I laughed and sarcastically told them that my weekly column would surely help start a renaissance within the small alternative weekly, plus I didn't give a fuck what people thought. Anyone who will pay me to write is cool in my book.
Weeks passed and I never really heard back from Brick. I just assumed that my recent controversies and my somewhat incendiary worldview had scared them away. Would it be worth bringing on a writer who may possibly increase readership, yet at the same time may possibly scare away advertisers? I guess they didn't think so. I was told that they were looking for a bar to sponsor the weekly piece and that was the last I heard.
One thing that worried me about Brick Weekly is that it seemed like some of the editorial team doubled as ad sales people. The same people who approached me about writing, also went out to bars and businesses to sell ad space. Maybe this is a common practice and I'm in the wrong here, but doesn't that seem strange?
The reason I write this is not to bash Brick. I still read it weekly and I have nothing but respect for the people I met. The reason for this is the article in the new Style Weekly today (which isn't online yet), that talks about how the Richmond Times Dispatch was going to run an ad from the NRA that bashed Obama. The Style article discussed some of the fallout in the RTD newsroom over this decision and what it means when the media (and VA's largest newspaper) fails to give unbiased accounts or untainted news to their readers.
Unfortunately, life is nothing but the bottom line and I understand that in these cash-strapped times you gotta do what you gotta do. But if I can't trust my local news and get my locally-flavored reading fix from the RTD everyday, where else can I turn? I'm not going to stop reading the Dispatch but I'll just need to focus on taking a blind eye to pro-McCain propaganda and ads that are disguised as real news pieces.
Maybe Brick Weekly (or Brick Reloaded as it is now called) is a dead horse and maybe that's why they decided to overhaul their staff and their concept about a year ago? I really don't know and I really don't give a shit either way, but I will say this, Style Weekly is currently taking Brick and the RTD out back to the tool shed and treating them like a weak, slightly autistic, red-headed step child.
...And I don't just say that because Style writes about me every once awhile, although I give them props for keeping an eye on the local bloggers and the little people here in Richmond.