Friday, December 9, 2016

Jordan Flaherty on saviors, New Orleans, media and activism

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:59 AM

Jordan Flaherty's latest book, No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality, draws in part from his career as a reporter and TV producer — work that has taken him to sites of grassroots struggle around the world, but it's anchored in his home, New Orleans.

Mixed in with the movement for indigenous self-determination in Black Mesa and sex workers contesting the police state in Arizona are multiple local stories. Flaherty gives us a front-row seat for the cautionary tale of FBI snitch Brandon Darby, one of two white bros who came here from Austin and rose to power through Common Ground, living out the savior complex by launching a career at immense cost to the people he claimed to be rescuing and representing. On a more positive note, Flaherty also tells the story of the New Teachers' Roundtable, a New Orleans collective founded by three former Teach for America participants to push back against TFA and the charter school movement — educational "reforms" which function as a profitable large-scale weaponization of the savior complex.

The crux of this wide-ranging book is finding alternatives to activism's savior mentality, that hero model in which a person of privilege uses their genius or other exceptional qualities to "rescue" the less fortunate.

I came to Flaherty's book with wariness, braced for scolding — but instead found No More Heroes to be full of love and compassion, including towards those who fall into the traps of saviordom. 

At 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, the Community Book Center (2523 Bayou Road.) will host one of a series of book release events Flaherty has organized across the South, previewed here by Kat Stromquist.

Flaherty advocates going from "How can I be the single best white anti-racist activist with the sharpest critique / most specialized language / busiest schedule?" to "How can we find ways to bring more and more people into social justice work, from lots of entry points, to grow vibrant mass movements?" To clarify the answers, I sat down with Flaherty to discuss his book, journalism and activism.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Editorial: Our pledge to you

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 9:00 AM

President-elect Donald Trump. - CREATIVE COMMONS/GAGE SKIDMORE
  • President-elect Donald Trump.

America’s political landscape will change dramatically after the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in January 2017. Already there are mixed messages coming from his transition team as to some of the promises he made while running. For now, we can only go by the man’s words and how they may affect Louisianans.

In the weeks and months to come, we will be keeping an eye on the following:

• The president-elect has promised to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but has provided few details. As of mid-November, more than 339,000 previously uninsured Louisianans are receiving health care through the ACA. We promise to outline their options and find out from doctors which screenings, tests and procedures they should get done now should the ACA go away — with a special focus on women's health care. (Meanwhile, the open enrollment period continues through the end of January; visit

• The president-elect has made it clear that he does not believe in climate change and promises to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency and key environmental protections. We promise to speak out for clean air, clean water and Louisiana’s fragile coast.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd to speak at Tulane Nov. 16

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 at 12:34 PM

  • Photo Courtesy Tulane Office of Cocurricular Programs

Maureen Dowd, the acid-tongued New York Times columnist known for her acerbic political commentary and insider-y conversations with Washington bigwigs, will speak at Tulane next month. She'll discuss the peculiarities of this election cycle as explained in her book The Year of Voting Dangerously: The Derangement of American Politics.

Dowd won a Pulitzer Prize in the '90s for her commentary on the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal. At the event, she'll be in conversation with think tank VP and former journalist H. Andrew Schwartz.

The event takes place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16 in the Kendall Cram Lecture Hall at Tulane's Lavin-Bernick Center and is open to the public. Admission is free. A book signing follows.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Idea Village co-founder Tim Williamson to take over NOLA Media Group

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 12:27 PM

Idea Village CEO Tim Williamson will become the next president of NOLA Media Group. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Idea Village CEO Tim Williamson will become the next president of NOLA Media Group.

Tim Williamson, CEO and co-founder of the entrepreneur nonprofit The Idea Village, will become president of NOLA Media Group (NMG), the umbrella company that oversees | The Times-Picayune, NMG announced today.

Williamson, a native of New Orleans, worked with Cox Interactive Media in Pittsburgh before returning home and launching the now-defunct website in 1998. He will take over at NMG Aug. 15, according to a letter from The Idea Village's board of directors, while remaining on the Idea Village's board. Emily Madero, chief operating officer of The Idea Village, will become acting CEO Aug. 1.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The New York Times revises its "remote" opinion, albeit tartly

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 1:25 PM

The cuisine at the remote outpost of Uptown known as Kenton's. - CHERYL GERBER
  • The cuisine at the remote outpost of Uptown known as Kenton's.

Having felt the merciless lash of NOLA Twitter on its pitiful, ink-stained shoulders, frequent New Orleans chronicler The New York Times has revised its opinion of Kenton's, the fancy-ish, new-ish Uptown restaurant run by a pair of NYC expatriates. 

The restaurant's location at Magazine and Nashville streets, originally described in Florence Fabricant's story as a "somewhat remote yet up-and-coming neighborhood west of the Garden District" (you might know it as Uptown), has been changed online:


. That was quick. Fortunately, the Public Editor did not need to get involved.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

The New York Times (once again) pisses off New Orleans Twitter

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 2:32 PM

Artist's conception of the corner of Magazine and Nashville Streets in the "Uptown" area of New Orleans.
  • Artist's conception of the corner of Magazine and Nashville Streets in the "Uptown" area of New Orleans.

The New York Times
loves writing about New Orleans, but the city doesn't always reciprocate the love — particularly when the writer isn't Campbell Robertson or Rick Bragg.

Whether provoked by Kalegate, a snotty dismissal of the Erin Rose's customers as dentally challenged, or a hitherto unknown faubourg of attractive young white people known as "Central City," New Orleans Twitter has been quick to snap back like an alligator, cher, when it feels our unique urban gumbo (aiiieeee!) has been dissed by the Gray Lady. 

So pity poor Florence Fabricant, who visited Kenton's recently and liked it:
A little piece of New York is thriving in New Orleans. Mani Dawes, below right, an owner of Tía Pol in Chelsea, and her husband, Sean Josephs, below left, who owns Maysville in the Flatiron district, have relocated their family to the Big Easy. Easier indeed: Ms. Dawes’s mother is there to help with babysitting. In a somewhat remote yet up-and-coming neighborhood west of the Garden District ...
The problem, as New Orleans Twitter was quick to point out, is that the corner of Magazine and Nashville streets is about as "remote" as the corner of East 86th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan (and both intersections have a Whole Foods within a block or so). In fact, Magazine and Nashville's remote yet up-and-coming neighborhood already has a name, and it's not UpGarDist or MagNash. It's, well, Uptown.

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Krewe du Vieux meets Krewe du Bernie? — and your chance to download this year's Le Monde de Merde

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 3:20 PM


One side effect of a compressed Mardi Gras season seems to be everything happening at once — and that surely will be the case in the Faubourg Marigny Jan. 23, when the raunchy satirists of Krewe du Vieux roll through the streets just hours after a planned rally and march for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders starts in Washington Square Park. 

Organizer Lawrence Dunn says he's applied for the proper permits with the city, and neither he nor city officials saw any problem or conflict with Krewe du Vieux.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The national press performs its autopsy on Gov. Bobby Jindal's presidential campaign

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 5:35 PM

Gov. Bobby Jindal. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Bobby, we barely knew ye ... but you've got a friend at the National Review, who thought you were the best candidate in the field ...

The Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza comes to praise Jindal, saying that when he first spoke with gubernatorial candidate Jindal 12 years ago, “he was one of the most impressive candidates for any office that I had ever met.” Cilizza also calls him “a guy with real policy chops and, unlike many policy-oriented elected officials, a nuanced understanding of politics” — and then Cilizza buries him: “The presidential campaign Jindal actually ran, which ended Tuesday, was the opposite of the one I — and lots and lots of other political types — thought he would: It was a careening pander-fest in which Jindal chased news cycles relentlessly by seemingly trying to make the most outlandish and over-the-top statement possible to stand out.” ...

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

More layoffs at | The Times-Picayune

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 12:45 PM

In June 2012, newly minted Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews announced the paper was here to stay.  The paper fired more than 200 employees that year. Today, managers at | The Times-Picayune met with the remaining employees, firing 28 full-time and nine part-time "content staffers."
  • In June 2012, newly minted Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews announced the paper was here to stay. The paper fired more than 200 employees that year. Today, managers at | The Times-Picayune met with the remaining employees, firing 28 full-time and nine part-time "content staffers."

Managers at | The Times-Picayune carried off an expected round of layoffs this morning, firing some of the paper's longest-serving reporters alongside more recent hires. In a statement released after the firings, NOLA Media Group President Ricky Mathews said the firings included "28 full time and nine part time content staffers," or "21 percent of the overall content operation's full-time employees."

James Varney, whose career spanned nearly 26 years at The Times-Picayune, was among those fired, as was Paul Purpura, who began at the paper in 1999 and worked a variety of beats in his 16-year tenure. John Pope, whose career began at the old States-Item in 1972, no longer will be a staff writer, but will continue to contribute to the paper.

Andy Grimm, who was hired away from the Chicago Tribune to cover federal courts, also was let go, as were reporter Ben Myers and graphics reporter/editor Dan Swenson. Benjamin Alexander Bloch, who covered coastal parishes and the Gulf of Mexico, was fired, as was Dinah Rogers, the paper's assistant photo editor and a 24-year employee.

Music writer Alison Fensterstock, a former Gambit music columnist, was let go, as well as Cate Root, who posted about events around town and covered the city's burgeoning comedy scene. David Lee Simmons, a former Gambit staffer who covered the entertainment scene, also was fired. 

Lyons Yellin of Gambit's TV partner WWL-TV reported that "almost all" the prep sports staff was let go.

Several sources said that the sackings were carried out in offices on a lower floor of One Canal Place, rather than in the newsroom. 

Mathews was quoted as saying:

"It's a difficult day for us and our colleagues who are losing their jobs. We wish them the very best. Aligning our costs with the business realities faced by media organizations around the country is a tough challenge. But it's also important for our readers to know that we remain the largest and most experienced news staff, and the most widely read newspaper and website in the area."

The cuts were not unexpected. In June, Advance Publications, which owns | The Times-Picayune, indicated that NOLA Media Group would be merging with the company's Alabama Media Group to form a "Southeast Regional Media Group" (later renamed "Advance Media Southeast"). Two days later, managers met with employees to talk about the company's future. "They're being pretty upfront about the fact there will be layoffs," one reporter told Gambit at the time. A report from Alabama mentioned that the company would be finding "operational efficiencies" within the merged companies. ("Unlike the last major round of cuts," Gambit reported then, "sports, arts and feature reporters also are at risk in this round of cuts.")

Since then, reporter Adriane Quinlan left in July, moving to Atlanta, while Rebecca Catalanello — whose series on abuse and neglect at New Bethany Home for Girls received national praise — left the paper earlier this month, taking a job as Assistant Director of Publications and Communications at the University of New Orleans. Grace Wilson, the website's "Community Engagement Specialist for Entertainment," left in August. Earlier this month, longtime Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss stepped down to take a role as editor-at-large for Advance Digital, the Internet arm of owner Advance Publications. The new editor is Mark Lorando, former state and metro editor of | The Times-Picayune.

In 2012, the paper was thrown into tumult when The New York Times reported it soon would be going to a three-day-per-week production schedule, catching Times-Picayune employees by surprise. The company subsequently fired more than 200 people, 84 of whom worked in the newsroom, as it underwent what it called the "digital transition." At the time, Amoss promised, "We will continue to have by far the most complete and the most formidable news-gathering muscle in this community, and readers will just have to hold us accountable to that promise that I'm making."

This is a developing story.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chicago Tribune columnist wishes for a "Hurricane Katrina" to clean up Chicago

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 7:39 PM


Well, that was a shitstorm — and we're not talking about the first few minutes of the New Orleans Saints' preseason game. A member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board is wishing for a "Hurricane Katrina" to strike and help clean up what she sees as her own corrupt city.

Kristen McQueary, who is an actual member of the Chicago Tribune's actual editorial board, met with Mayor Mitch Landrieu and somehow came away with the notion — well, I'm not sure what's more wrongheaded, that Katrina "fixed" things in New Orleans or that a Chicagoan would want the people of Chicago to go through something similar:

Envy isn't a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

But with Aug. 29 fast approaching and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu making media rounds, including at the Tribune Editorial Board, I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

Apparently it takes a Katrina (or, more accurately, a federal levee disaster) to clean up what McQueary calls Chicago's "rot." Not surprisingly, social media is going nuts in both cities. Is McQueary a troll, a cheap provocateur or just ... I dunno?

I've invited her to discuss the column over coffee when I'm in Chicago in early September. So: what about it, Kristen? I'm buying. I'll bring you beignet mix.

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