Thursday, April 26, 2018

Tim Williamson out as president of NOLA Media Group

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 12:38 PM

Tim Williamson stepped down as president of NOLA Media Group this morning, according to an unsigned artcile on - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Tim Williamson stepped down as president of NOLA Media Group this morning, according to an unsigned artcile on

Tim Williamson, the co-founder of Idea Village who took over as president of NOLA Media Group (NMG) in 2016, left the company today, according to an unsigned article on

"Having accomplished so much together, and having created so much positive momentum ... I have decided this is the right moment for me to step down," Williamson was quoted as saying.

Williamson had replaced Ricky Mathews, who was brought in to oversee The Times-Picayune's "digital revolution" in 2012, a move which eventually involved the firing of hundreds of staffers, a three-day-a-week print schedule and a rebranding as NOLA Media Group. The staff cuts and reduced print schedule (the latter of which was finally reversed) were wildly unpopular in both the newsroom and the city, sparking protests against Advance Publications, which owns NMG, as well as against Mathews himself.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Survey: Louisiana residents trust local media — national media, not so much

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 4:28 PM


Louisiana residents are pretty satisfied with their local news sources, according to the last of six reports from the 2018 Louisiana Survey, an annual product of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication and the Reilly School for Media & Public Affairs.

However, that trust doesn't extend to the national media, according to the survey.

"Most Louisiana residents (56 percent) think that local news organizations are accurate in
their reporting, which is much higher than the share who think national news organizations generally get the facts straight (32 percent)," according to the survey's summary.

Other findings:

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Monday, April 9, 2018

The Advocate purchases Gambit and

Posted By on Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 9:55 AM

Gambit, New Orleans’ signature weekly news and entertainment paper, has been purchased by the parent company of The New Orleans Advocate.

Advocate owners John and Dathel Georges purchased the weekly from Margo and Clancy DuBos, native New Orleanians who have owned Gambit since 1991. Terms were not disclosed.

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sports-entertainment scholars unafraid to mix it up in the ring

Posted By on Sat, Apr 7, 2018 at 1:44 PM

The conference program
  • The conference program
There's never just one thing happening in New Orleans. At the same time WrestleMania week is slowly, multifariously unfolding across the region, beautiful wrestle-blossoms of different sizes and pay scales blooming in every available metro auditorium or high-school gym, the Southern Sociological Society is holding its annual meeting and conference at the Marriott across from WWE Axxess.

This year's conference theme is "Racial Theory, Analysis, and Politics in Trump's America." Digging into the program, I was gratified to discover multiple panels about pro wrestling, one of which I attended Friday morning.

Dr. Jack Karlis of Georgia College opened, detailing his research into how media framed (or failed to cover) the longstanding connections between President Donald Trump and WWE's owners, the McMahon family. I knew Trump and the McMahons were chummy; I hadn't known that Linda and Vince McMahon were the largest single contributor to the Trump Foundation, a gift Karlis estimates to be around $5,000,000.

JH Roberts
  • JH Roberts
Next up, the University of Georgia's J.H. Roberts discussed activism in pro wrestling during the Trump presidency. Usefully, or perhaps crushingly for some, she defined activism as "not just saying things on Twitter, but doing things." Roberts provided a survey of some forms this has taken, both outward-facing (WWE Superstar Sami Zayn bankrolling a mobile medical clinic in Syria, indy star Zack Sabre Jr. donating merchandise profits to a transgender law center) and inward-facing, which is activism focused on improving pro wrestling itself.

The third panelist, Chris Maverick of Duquesne University, talked about models of performative masculinity in leadership, comparing Trump to Lincoln, an accomplished amateur wrestler, and then to various comic book villains and pro-wrestling characters. The highlight, for me, was the connection Maverick drew between Trump's compelling, crowd-pleasing yet contradictory or semantically incoherent rhetoric and the promos of Dusty Rhodes and the Ultimate Warrior.

Perhaps defying assumptions about those that do vs. those that teach, I discovered both Roberts and Maverick are or have been wrestlers themselves. Roberts is actively training as a pro wrestler, and is part of a collective she describes as "a pro wrestling promotion dedicated to exploring within the boundaries of pro wrestling what you can do with feminist and gender performance."

"For example," Roberts told me, "within pro wrestling there's Ultimo Dragon, Dragon Dragon, Super Dragon ... Drago, in Lucha Underground ... but [in our promotion] we have potentially the first-ever female dragon character. In her storylines she addresses things a female dragon would have to deal with that male dragons wouldn't — aspects of reproduction and female bodily autonomy."
Chris Maverick
  • Chris Maverick

Wrestling is brutal. "I'm in pain pretty much all the time," Roberts says of her training. "At the same time, it's nice to do something so purely physical because it lets me turn my brain off. It's also exciting to push myself in new ways and confront things I'm terrified of, like front flips— since if you don't do those you can't wrestle."

Chris Maverick is on the other side, having retired from in-ring competition. "I did it for six years," he told me. "My last match was maybe eight years ago. I wrestled exactly 50 matches in my career and mostly jobbed," meaning he lost to more prominent wrestlers.

Maverick, a lifelong wrestling fan, joined a wrestling school and started training at age 29. His overwhelmingly younger classmates all dreamed of getting to WWE. "My goal was a little different. I said to myself, 'I'm going to wrestle one match, maybe write a paper about it.' There were 15 of us in the class and only three of us finished because it was so grueling." Maverick's wrestling career did include a stint as a tag-team champ in a West Virginia promotion; it so happened I'd just seen his erstwhile tag-team partner, DJ Z, wrestle at Evolve 102 the night before.

"I wasn't great," Maverick said. "I was older and had bad knees when I started, so I knew my time was limited. I dislocated my shoulder four times... it's hard. It's a very rough sport."

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Steve Beatty, longtime publisher of The Lens, departs under unclear circumstances

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 3:26 PM

A 2009 file photo shows The Lens founders Karen Gadbois (left) and Ariella Cohen with then-editor Steve Beatty.
  • A 2009 file photo shows The Lens founders Karen Gadbois (left) and Ariella Cohen with then-editor Steve Beatty.
Steve Beatty, longtime publisher and CEO of The Lens, "has left the nonprofit, investigative newsroom in New Orleans to pursue other interests," The Lens announced today — a characterization Beatty disputes. The Lens' website already lists Beatty in its alumni section.

Reached by phone, Beatty said, "I hope to have something to say in the next couple of days." He asked Gambit how the news had gotten out, and was unaware The Lens had announced his departure publicly.

Editor Steve Myers had no comment, referring Gambit to Nicholas Peddle, chairman of The Lens' five-person board of directors.

Peddle told Gambit, "It's accurate he did resign. The Lens has grown a lot under his leadership and the board and staff of The Lens wish him nothing but the best." Asked if the board requested Beatty's resignation, Peddle said, "No, the board did not pressure him to resign." Pressed further on whether the board then would welcome Beatty back if he changed his mind, Peddle said, "He resigned. Let's just leave it at that."

Informed of Peddle's comments, Beatty said, "No. I did not resign."

The story of Beatty's departure, written by Myers, says that a search for a replacement is underway.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tank and the Bangas win 2017 NPR Tiny Desk contest

Posted By on Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 10:01 AM

Tank and the Bangas.
  • Tank and the Bangas.

From more than 6,000 submissions, NPR's third annual Tiny Desk contest — named for its popular in-house live music series — has named a 2017 winner. New Orleans R&B-, funk- and hip-hop-influenced powerhouse ensemble Tank and the Bangas won over judges with its performance of "Quick," which NPR's Bob Boilen says "felt so organic and on-the-spot, just like the best Tiny Desk concerts."

The band will record a Tiny Desk set at NPR's Washington D.C.'s studio before a tour with other contest performers.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Books roundup: Five book-related events in February in New Orleans

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 9:00 AM

L. Kasimu Harris reads at Antenna (3718 St. Claude Ave.) Feb. 2. - IRVING JOHNSON III
  • L. Kasimu Harris reads at Antenna (3718 St. Claude Ave.) Feb. 2.

It's February, that month in which we typically celebrate Mardi Gras and the lesser, more saccharine occasion known as Valentine's Day. If you need a refuge from the parade route — or a date-night idea to impress that cute librarian — here are five literary events to check out this month.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

At Tulane appearance, columnist Charles Blow defends the press in 'fake news' era

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 2:30 PM


In a Jan. 16 conversation that ranged from his childhood chasing hogs in Gibsland, Louisiana, to a discussion of the ultra-polarized 2016 election, New York Times columnist Charles Blow defended the media against charges of bias and stressed the importance of its role in the Trump era.

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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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