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.
There 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.
Sandy 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.