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New Times Broward-Palm Beach responds to NYT headline, misses point

March 7, 2014
Courtesy Paul Hornschemeier/NYT

Courtesy Paul Hornschemeier/NYT

Yesterday, Deirdra Funcheon wrote a grossly self-serving piece for the New Times Broward-Palm Beach attacking a piece I wrote for the New York Times on Wednesday. Or, actually, she was attacking the headline of the piece, which asked “Are Alt Weeklies Over?”

The piece itself went on to offer a resounding “no” as the answer to that question, detailing the important role that alt weeklies still play in urban life, and likening the archive of an alt-weekly to James Joyce’s Ulysses, the book widely voted as the most important novel of the last century.

And yet, Funcheon mustered every ounce of intellectual dishonesty and cynicism that she possessed in order to attack the headline and brag about the awards her colleagues have won down there–because no one knows alt like Palm Beach!

Funcheon is a managing editor at New Times Broward-Palm Beach and the fact that she didn’t bother to argue with the actual substance of my piece but with a hastily constructed straw man is the closest I have come–after a very embattled week–to feeling despair for the world of alts.

On the other hand, I applaud Funcheon’s fighting spirit. Of our sale to the Baltimore Sun Media Group, I wrote, “My concern, though, is not that things will change overnight, but that over time, under corporate ownership, we will lose our edge. When that happens to other institutions in Baltimore, we’ve been the ones to cry ‘sellout!’ I’d like to think that, in doing so, we’ve made the city a somewhat better place. But who will do the same for us?”

Funcheon clearly wanted to be that one and I applaud the impulse. But the cynical bid for attention masquerading as critique does not do the job. My views are not perfect and were written at a time when we had seen eight close colleagues laid off and in which our own future was uncertain. Is there a fight to be had? Sure. But in order to have that fight, the wannabe pugilist needs to learn how to read carefully instead of embodying the worst elements of internet culture and not even looking past the headline.

  • Conway Reba

    Favorite line “no one knows alt like Palm Beach.” Enough said.

  • TomKiefaber

    I understand why you take exception with Ms. Funcheon’s rebuttal. I don’t agree however with the trust of your op/ed. One of the 91 worthwhile comments on the NYTimes opinion piece, by Steve from Santa Cruz, states my viewpoint on the subject, more succinctly than I can.

    “I recently read David Armstrong’s excellent history of alt media, “a
    Trumpet to Arms,” which confirmed to me what i always felt. Alt media
    was either a sell-out from inception, or very soon thereafter.
    Self-righteousness guarantees tunnel vision and myopia, hardly useful
    for finding meaning or insight. Goodbye alt media, you never knew who
    you were.”

  • Gray

    TomK might be on to something. After all, when it comes to self-righteous tunnel vision, he wrote the book. Or was it a screenplay?

  • TomKiefaber

    It’s a book and screenplay. The musical adaptation remains a work in progress. ;-) The issue, however, is not about me, it’s about alt-media, its foibles and uncertain future. But then you know that. BTW, we haven’t been property introduced. My name is Tom Kiefaber. And yours?