Thursday, February 2, 2006

John Hammer Responds

My letter (previous post) was printed in today's Rhinoceros Times, followed by an Editor's note from John Hammer:
Despite repeated inquiries and requests, I have found it extremely difficult to find out the time and place of meetings, and it is illegal to hold a public meeting behind locked doors, which this committee does. According to Greensboro, North Carolina: The County Seat of Guilford by Ethel Arnett, the stadium was erected in 1922.
I checked John's reference, and Mrs. Arnett does indeed give 1922 as the date the stadium was built. Every other source I've checked, however, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, gives it as 1926. Let's call that question a draw.

As to the "locked doors," though -- I have no idea what John is talking about. At every meeting of the taskforce that I've been to, not only was the door unlocked, it was open throughout the meeting. The door to the building has always been unlocked at meeting time, too. And the fact that John has attended these meetings seems to run contrary to his point. In fact, I can't actually find anything in the open meetings law about locked doors.

Perhaps John would have better luck at finding out meeting-time information if he actually talked to the people at the meeting, asked a city employee, "when's the next meeting?" and requested that he be put on the notification list as the law allows.

But his modus operandi at these meetings is to walk in, type madly on his laptop through the whole thing, speak only when spoken to, and leave silently at the end. No interviews, no name-address-phone-number gathering, no . . . journalism.

I assumed at the first couple of meetings he attended that he was writing down everything that was said. But almost nothing of what actually happened at the meetings made it into print (and much of what did appear was inaccurate). So it appears to me now that he uses his time in the meetings simply to re-write the same story that he's been writing now for several years, with its simple and easy-to-follow narrative arc: shadowy, powerful, and vindictive people, led by Jim Melvin, are conniving to destroy the stadium and are duping and suborning people, or subverting legal processes, to make that happen.

He simply ignores anything and everything that doesn't fit into that neat storyline.

It's odd, because I know that John is a likeable and smart fellow, and is capable of good and lively writing. The Rhino is always a good read in that respect.

But I guess I've learned first-hand not to trust it further than I could kick an anvil in my bare feet.

9 comments:

diane said...

David,
I have found that many times The Rhino gives a more accurate accounting of local events than the N&R or any of the local television stations.
Many times The Rhino addresses issues that would never come to light if they weren't reported on it's pages.

jw said...

Perhaps, just perhaps, the doors are not locked, but that John needs to "Pull" instead of "Push."

Darkmoon said...

Perhaps diane, it's not a "more accurate" accounting but a more appealing perspective. I've found that the Rhino doesn't often quote very well, as well as repeating the facts correctly. I'm not saying it hasn't been misconstrued from time to time, but I know that if I find something wrong in N&R, I can get it corrected. Rhino... well.. good luck with corrections.

Sue said...

During the Bruce Davis silliness vented at Jenks Crayton (which was NOT silly), I had occasion to meet Mr. Hammer at Commish meetings. At one, I asked him if he could publish the cost of the investigation -- much like he had published every penny of Starr's investigation into President Clinton (that likewise yielded nothing from within its original mission). He seemed very taken aback and chuckled that I would dare compare the two.

I asked if the cost of Davis's investigation (which seemed a little OCD to me) was public record. Mr. Hammer replied it was. I asked if he could find it. He said he could. He was still chuckling over the idea that I thought these were comparable situations.

I don't recall (but I don't read it all the time) that the Rhino published those numbers in any big way. They might have; that's not my point. My point: Mr. Hammer was upset that Bruce Davis hadn't given him a document he "promised" before moving to closed session. There had been an 'agreement' over this between the two. Bruce Davis's answers, given in public and which I overheard, were as unintelligible and full of double-speak as I've ever read in the Rhino.

It was almost fun watching Mr. Hammer get a dose of what he dishes out.

I think you and the commenters are dead-on. John Hammer writes his story prior to investigating it or attending it. He did with the Red Hat Academy Press conference many years ago and he had to work very hard to find something wrong there as well. (Our sin in his eyes? We wouldn't tell him where we had written grants before the grant appss were approved and in some cases, even considered, given the deadlines that different foundations have. Screw the educational opportunity we brought to GCS - go after nonexistent cabals of funding. I suppose that was Mr. Melvin's fault as well. :)

John Robinson said...

As someone who has been named in the Rhino more times than I can count and who represents a company that has weekly appearances in it, I must say that only once has anyone from the Rhino called me for information. (And that involved a legal issue involving the county we were both writing about.) And virtually everytime we're mentioned in the tab, it's either wrong or he's taken contorted leaps of logic to get to his conclusion.

Darkmoon said...

What's most amusing... is that the stuff that Hammer wants to bash on, there is a lot of stuff to make those conclusions. Sue and I had some very annoying run-ins with GCS last year and I have facts to back it up.

No, Jim wasn't involved. haha. But seriously. Like John said, Hammer makes "leaps of logic" instead of just presenting the other side.

I never did see anyone finish the cellular phone annoyance that I had with the Dems in the Couty Commish, which N&R actually brought up. Hammer could have jumped ALL over that one since it's not exactly representing the people imho. But not a peep. Whatever.

diane said...

Hey Darkmoon,

I'm not sure I like your crack about a more appealing perspective. I read several newspapers and try to keep an open mind.

I find that the N&R also misquotes, makes mistakes, and leaves out pertinent information in some of its news articles and editorials. Nobody is perfect.

I guess it is just human nature to ignore what we don't want to hear. Sometimes trying to correct mistakes from a media source is useless. (which doesn't mean that some of us don't try).

Isn't it wonderful that we can discuss things like this. What a great country!

diane said...

Only from on-line sources? You must be more gullible than I thought. But I still like your style.

Anonymous said...

You must remember that John Hammer's "leaps of logic" and other such regretful forms of journalism DO serve a purpose. Having that garbage printed makes for a stirring read...and that in turn increases readership...which increases the dollars spent by advertisers...which in turn makes John Hammer a very rich boy. Common sense tells me to IGNORE most of what you read in the Rhino.