A family of raccoons was spotted on Grand Avenue outside the Music Center, just before the opening of "Something Rotten!" Photo from the car by Alex Emmet.
1. Pacific News Service, RIP
The San Francisco nonprofit Pacific News Service will close down for good on Thursday, "after growing too fast and accumulating too much debt," the San Francisco Chronicle reports
. "It will end nearly a half century of tenacious coverage, with a mission that started in Indochina but expanded to include unrest in Central America and immigration in California, and above all an increasing focus on producing youth media and news about underrepresented cultures."
Pacific News Service was co-founded in 1969 by the late Franz Schurmann and China scholar Orville Schell, who was a student of Schurmann at UC Berkeley. The longtime executive director is Sandy Close (above), who was married to Schurmann and in the job was awarded both a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant” and a Polk Award for career achievement. New America Media, the subsidiary of Pacific News Service, also will close.
New America Media created newspapers in juvenile halls, covered violence surrounding drug epidemics from the streets, united media from diverse ethnicities and mentored fledgling journalists who paid it forward.
Malcolm Marshall, editor and publisher of the Richmond Pulse, met Schurmann and Close when he was a teen in the late 1980s. Close approached Marshall after listening to his public affairs radio show on urban/R&B station KSOL.
“Sandy has influenced my life so profoundly. But it’s not just my story. It’s the story of thousands of people,” Marshall said. “They had one of the most interesting newsrooms that you could think of. They were highly intellectual, and they had this crazy idea to let some 17-, 18-, 19-year-olds hang out. They really truly cared what young people had to say.”
New America Media, which had 90 employees in multiple U.S. newsrooms a few years ago, now has just three to supervise the shutdown.
The official word.
2. NYT has to explain why it profiles a neo-Nazi
The New York Times did what journalists are supposed to do and sent a reporter out to dig around and explain something that most people know little about. In this case, what makes a white supremacist tick
. America is thick with these kinds of failed angry citizens. But the president dog-whistles to them, and tomorrow one might show up at your school and kill 50 kids, so it's good for the rest of us to learn what we can about some of the least moral people America has to offer.
But the NYT story, by former LA Times reporter Richard Fausset, pissed off a lot of Times readers who don't like using ink to to profile white supremacists. For as long as I've been around, news outlets have faced this conflicting pressure: is coverage of someone unsavory or illegal mostly free publicity, or is it illumination for the rest of us — information for readers they would not otherwise have? I belong to the latter school, and accept — as all news consumers should — that some news will be undesirable and tell you things about people you don't want to know. Or, as critics often put it, it's OK for them but they don't want someone else to know about it.
National editor Marc Lacey — another former LAT staffer now at the NYT — explained in a note published over the weekend that the story did not "normalize" the subject, Tony Hovater.
The genesis of the story was the aftermath of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August, the terrifying Ku Klux Klan-like images of young white men carrying tiki torches and shouting “Jews will not replace us,” and the subsequent violence that included the killing of a woman, Heather D. Heyer.
Who were those people? We assigned Richard Fausset, one of our smartest thinkers and best writers, to profile one of the far-right foot soldiers at the rally. We ended up settling on Mr. Hovater,...
Our reporter and his editors agonized over the tone and content of the article. The point of the story was not to normalize anything but to describe the degree to which hate and extremism have become far more normal in American life than many of us want to think.
We described Mr. Hovater as a bigot, a Nazi sympathizer who posted images on Facebook of a Nazi-like America full of happy white people and swastikas everywhere.
Those who read the story learned — incrementally — something important about America. There will be more stories about racism, racists and their victims that continue to tell the larger story. Blaming the messenger, Trump style, is the wrong response.
Added: Fausset explains how he did the story and his own misgivings.
3. Good read: When you need to remember your PIN to save $30,000