Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

DivergeSouth?

Sue, with a valid point: "It's unfortunate that you are equating the conference with the RMA report dissemination. Other than the timeliness of the two events, there's no relationship. I wish you would reconsider, even at the cost of a clever headline, conflating the two."

Normally I enjoy putting local bloggers on the news. Today, not so much. Why exactly is complicated, which isn’t the least bit surprising since the story at hand is so full of twists and subterfuge. I’ll try to boil it down. When best selling author Jerry Bledsoe began serializing the city’s police department’s sordid regime change in a free weekly newspaper, eyes widened at the scurrilous behavior contained within. Cries of racism, international drug cartels, steamy stripper parties - it seems the Wray Fray had it all. Problem is, not everyone that makes up the Thin Blue Line around here liked seeing the department’s soiled undies flapping in the breeze. So someone leaked a confidential document - a public-funded investigation summary called the RMA Report that, while countering some of Bledsoe‘s claims, reveals the Greensboro Police Department to be an organization seemingly awash in skulduggery. Soon, the RMA was everywhere and though the newspaper and TV stations acknowledged they had a copy, none of the mainstream media divulged its contents. Then, along came the blogs.

Roch Under FireThere was much discussion of the leaked report at last weekend’s ConvergeSouth. Most local bloggers wanted to see the RMA report on-line but since it contains information that is part of a criminal investigation, no one wanted to risk a lawsuit by publishing it on their site. Still, few left convinced the troublesome document wouldn’t soon find a home on-line and the next day it appeared anonymously posted to Greensboro101 - the aggregator of record maintained by Roch Smith, Jr. (pictured here). Though Roch claims not to know who posted the warts-and-all report to his site, he wasn't surprised by the fact that someone did. Chances are though, he didn’t see the backlash coming.

Carmany at LargeSandy Carmany was the first to defect. The Greensboro City Council member (pictured here) has received national acclaim for serving her constituents through her simple blog. As the one local cyber-writer most familiar with the RMA’s litigious ingredients, she urged everyone to proceed with great caution - if proceed at all. When she saw the report on Greensboro101, she promptly announced she wished to be de-linked. Almost immediately, members of 101’s editorial board (of which until recently, included me) announced they were resigning their positions on the spot. This is all the more shocking considering the mutual admiration on display at A&T just this past weekend. It would seem the RMA report carried with it a curse.

When Caron Myers and I turned the camera on Carmany and Smith, each stated their cases with reason and authority. The same can be said for Ben Holder, whose rainy interview outside Stamey’s smacked of a Deep Throat rendezvous in some anonymous parking deck. Watergate comparisons aside, the Wray Fray and the RMA is a hot mess. Partnerships have been strained, litigation hinted at and hard feelings formulated overnight - all while some officers accused of scandalous acts continue to enforce laws that apparently don’t apply to them. You could say I’m disappointed, but not surprised - for the bloated ego of a dirty cop knows no bounds. Hege taught me that much. I just wish this latest debacle wouldn’t sully the local blogosphere - a teeming scene of very smart folk who’ve already broken new ground in citizen media. My guess is Roch will come out of this okay and Greensboro101 will quickly coalesce, though it’s a good deal murkier how the Gate City’s police department will ever redeem itself. One thing is certain, however. The area’s mainstream media will never ignore the local blogosphere again. Quite simply, they can’t afford to.

8 comments:

Sue said...

It's unfortunate that you are equating the conference with the RMA report dissemination. Other than the timeliness of the two events, there's no relationship. I wish you would reconsider, even at the cost of a clever headline, conflating the two.

Darkmoon said...

I'm personally disappointed in the clever but misinforming title. One followed the other, and had nothing to do with each other.

This is one of the reasons citizen media began. MSM started throwing out "killer headlines" to try to gain viewers.

I personally am not too happy about the headline, even though the content is good.

hugh said...

Resigning from the 101 editorial board will have no impact in this universe other than to comfort your conscious in a world gone topsy turvy.

The more tumultous the situation the quicker the resolution of the corruptive behavior within the GPD.

Roch101 said...

Stewart resigned from the board many months ago. Amicably and orderly.

Jim Capo said...

I cast a vote for Stewart's headliner. He was equally laconic in perceptively closing out the CS session, "building a media culture within the news organization."

The schism was already out there. The RMA just showed it up. There are local bloggers who are quite comfortable belonging to the poor sister wing of the established/approved/censored public discourse manufactured by corporate media and local power brokers and then there are "the others," the dangerous ones who don't mind being on a list.

Seymour Hardy Floyd said...

The intensity of the issues you've addressed is clear and strong, even from a distance, which is now where I stand.

As a blogger, I dropped out last November, not long after attending that year's ConvergeSouth, and I've only recently gotten a little bit back into following some of the local blogs and posting a few occasional comments on other people's blogs. (My own blog's been inactive since November 2005.)

I don't have a solid opinion here except to feel that what you've posted here is extremely well expressed and shows obvious love and concern for the people and institutions involved.

As with too many issues, you find yourself just stepping back and wondering, "Couldn't things have been handled differently and better by many or maybe all of the parties involved?"

Do we step back often enough to ask such questions of ourselves?

So many people connected to the Greensboro Police Department apparently behaved in ways for which they should be deeply ashamed and embarrassed.

But in attempting to shine light on the Greensboro Police Department's issues, have others now not also behaved in ways that they should at least self-evaluate?

I loved the ConvergeSouth I attended, feeling like a kid in a candy shop filled with the most awesome treats you could ever hope to taste.

Even though I'm not blogging like I was a year ago, I wish I had attended ConvergeSouth again this year.

I know I missed something special and that Greensboro and N.C. A & T State University should be filled with pride to have hosted this grand event.

(Has Mayor Keith Holiday ever made an appearance at ConvergeSouth? If he hasn't, he's made a big mistake in choosing not to do so. Even if he's not blogging, he should acknowledge something so obviously meaningful and special about Greensboro. Otherwise, he's a great ambassador for our city, but as far I know, he's failed to realize and acknowlege what a major asset it is for our community to have a powerful blogging presence.)

Connecting ConvergeSouth in the title of this post about the RMA report posting is maybe not so different than connecting Greensboro with the shoot-out between Nazi-Klan members and CWP members on November 3, 1979.

There are probably strong arguments against what I just stated, but maybe there are similarities worth considering, particularly since the Greensboro Police Department is a part of both cases.

I understand people who worked long and hard to make ConvergeSouth a success not wanting its name and image associated with the negative way that the RMA-report-posting has gone down.

Just as I understand why people who love and care about Greensboro don't want its name and image so closely tied to such a negative event as what occurred back in 1979.

(Just as I understand why people in Columbine probably hate what everyone thinks about when the name of their town is simply mentioned.)

It's not fair, and it's not right, but the way our human minds work, we make such connections.

All the time.

That's simply a fact about how we operate.

It's in our nature.

I bet (and hope!) the average Greensboro police officer is someone all of us should be proud to have serving and defending us.

But there were troubling ways that the Greensboro Police Department chose to respond to the "Death to the Klan" rally, and that's still never been adequatlely addressed by our local powers-that-be.

And some of what's apparently occurred within our community's police department more recently is even more disturbing. It's actually also a bit frightening. And it certainly hasn't been adequately addressed so far by our local powers-that-be.

Posting Sue's comment at the beginning of your post is an example of class at its best.

I wish there was more of that all the way around, everywhere.

Thank you for your post.

Hardy

D. Hoggard said...

SHF - We miss you terribly and your above comments are indicative of why we need you back in the mix.

Carolyn said...

no offense to anyone, but isn't part of the point of a blog to write what is personally relevant? Part of the problem with the mainstream media is it allows no space or time for divergent opinions or reflective writing - something a blog is supposed to be able to do. I see the relation between the two events stu alludes to, and knowing him, I don't believe he did it to glitz up anything - that's so anti stu it's not even funny. He stood back and noted the irony of the two events, how one has impacted the other, and chose to comment upon it...quite coherently, I thought.