by Benn Ray
Lately, there has been no shortage of stories to talk about (both locally and nationally).
Instead of going in depth on all of the stories, since they are already being well-handled by other news sources, I thought I would just list the headlines, link to the stories and toss in my two-cents on them.
There are two local stories and one national one.
Story #1: The Baltimore Sun Buys The Baltimore City Paper
Yes, that's it. It's done. The Baltimore City Paper as we know it is over.
The Sun isn't buying the City Paper to sustain it as it is, they have ideas and changes to make. And they've already begun laying off what any reasonable person would see as invaluable assets to the publication. Articles are already being censored, and advertisers are already getting bad reviews pulled. It's a heart-breaking shit-show to watch, while still somewhat exciting too.
It's especially sad since I'd heard from staffers months ago that employees were trying to put together a buyers group but were discouraged by the ownership who told them that there was already a preferred deal in the works. I think most of Baltimore would have rather the CP become an employee-owned, truly independent enterprise than something sucked into the Baltimore Sun building.
For more, former City Paper writer Tom Scocca nails it on Gawker.
Of course, if anyone likes to raise revenue and is interested in turning the Shank into a print publication to fill the gaping hole in Baltimore culture that the Sun's consumption of the City Paper leaves, just let me know.
But the real takeaway from this story is that it's great to know that The Baltimore Sun is doing well enough to acquire new assets. This should mean that they can't use expense as a rationale to continue to lay off reporters.
STORY #2: Netflix's House Of Cards Demands Tax Breaks To Continue Filming In Baltimore
This story, involving Kevin Spacey's production company, is worthy of Spacey's character, Frank Underwood. Unless the State of Maryland agrees to give the show millions of dollars in tax breaks, Baltimore will lose the privilege of portraying Washington D.C.
I have a number of friends who work on this show (and in the TV/movie industry here in Maryland), and as much as I don't like big businesses threatening us, I also don't like the idea of them not being able to work in their industry (nor that ability being used as a pawn for corporate profit increases).
Tax breaks for large corporations to do business in Maryland seems to be our new standard - with everyone from Amazon.com to Wal-Mart to Mill No. 1 getting them, despite Fortune Magazine reporting that these corporate tax breaks aren't worth it.
So until we are ready to have a serious conversation about whether or not we want to continue this race to the bottom (and don't get me wrong, we very much should have this conversation), I think we should treat House of Cards the same as every other large corporation that wants the public to subsidize their private, for-profit businesses under the dubious claim of "job creation."
But how do I feel about House Of Cards and Kevin Spacey moving forward? F.U.
STORY #3: Arizona Passes Then Vetoes Anti-Gay Law
The Republican legislature in Arizona passed a law that would allow private businesses to discriminate against gays under the claim of religious beliefs. (On a side note, if your religion requires you to discriminate against others, your religion is nothing more than a vile cult.)
The national public outcry against this law was so tremendous, Republican legislators who voted for this bill started claiming they didn't realize what they were voting for (they should be fired).
But despite public outcry, it wasn't until business interests started applying pressure did it become obvious that Arizona Governor Brewer would veto the law.
Why is it that that citizens can be outraged, but it requires corporations to be outraged for Arizona to do the right thing? Who is our government accountable to? This incident in Arizona suggest that we no longer have a government by, of and for the people (unless the people you mean are corporations).
We live in interesting times.
photo credit: Rachel Whang