Home > Uncategorized > New Times Gets Religion

New Times Gets Religion

I suspect some dramatic editorial changes are underway at what has been the Alternative Paper of Record in this community for 20 years. New Times has had a pretty rocky period these last 18 months, starting with the sad death of founder Steve Moss, the uncertainty surrounding possible new owners, the whole controversy involving the meth story, the departure of King Harris as Managing Editor, declining circulation, etc.

Now it seems there is a staff revolt simmering under the surface and it just may boil over in the next few weeks as key members of the newsroom decide to move on.

The problem seems to be twofold. First, publisher Bob Rucker wants New Times to be more upbeat, softer in tone and less controversial, a vision shared by Ryan Miller, the wet-behind-the-ears editor who is still finding his editorial voice with the paper.

Apparently the voice Ryan is listening to most belongs to God. No kidding. A devout Christian, Miller is apparently being guided by a higher authority in putting out the newspaper week after week. Stories alleging a serial rapist on the loose in San Luis Obispo and reports of major FEMA violations by Atascadero are being scrapped in favor of this Thursday’s cover story . . . .wait for it . . . . .A COMPARISON BETWEEN ‘THE NATIVITY STORY” AND “PASSION OF THE CHRIST.”

I’m not kidding! That’s the cover story scheduled for this week by the weekly alternative paper.

Look, I believe in religious tolerance and support the right of anyone to follow the god of their choice — or not. But leave it at the door, pal. Ryan apparently has trouble doing that, often openly consulting his pastor for advice in running the newspaper. Holy shit! Now you know why “The Shredder” has been so very, very bland these last few months. Ryan writes the Shredder, but he refuses to go after people. Oh, except for women in his own newsroom. About seven or eight female staffers complained to Rucker about Ryan’s supposed condescending behavior. Rucker’s alleged response to each woman, “You’re the only one who feels this way.”

Which helps explain why, insiders are suggesting, circulation is down at New Times. Papers are being left in the stacks at a record rate, a point obviously denied by Rucker.

So if you want to pray for something — try this. Pray that God speaks to Ryan Miller and tells him to knock it off. Tell Ryan to go back and read back issues of the paper, back when New Times stood for something and was the champion of the underdog.

Can’t wait to see that cover story on Thursday. Personally, I think it’s New Times who could use the guidance from the Three Wise Men.

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  1. paso phil
    December 18, 2006 at 5:40 am

    I gave up on New Times long ago, even before Steve kicked off (sorry Steve).

    I mean, it’s just cover to cover advertising with zero investigative reporting. They cut back on their environmental coverage which is what I always appreciated. Somewhere along the way they lost their edge.

    But, Dave, you’re right about poor ole Shred. Haven’t seen it lately, but the Shredder died long ago.

  2. JerryDinAZ
    December 18, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    SOUNDS LIKE THE THAT LIBERAL HATE RAG NEW TIMES IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION! (NO PUN INTENDED)

    THE NEW OWNERS AND THE PUBLISHER KNOW THAT THE LEFTY LIBERAL HATE BS DOESN’T SELL! LOOK…PAPERS ARE FREE BUT PRODUCTION COSTS AREN’T! SO WHO OR WHAT LEFTY GROUPS OR COMPANIES WILL, AND ARE, SUPPORTING THE NT HATE? OBVIOUSLY NOT ENOUGH IF ANY!

    THIS SWING IS GOOD…WE NEED THAT KIND OF HONEST REPORTING INSTEAD OF DIGGING IN THE DUNG PILE AND ESPOUSING ALL THAT CONSPIRACY HATE!
    GO “NEW” NEWTIMES! I WILL NOW BUY A SUBSCRIPTION SINCE I KNOW IT IS FINALLY ON THE RIGHT TRACK.

    LET’S HOPE THEY ALSO CLEAN UP THE BACK OF THAT PAPER AS WELL! ALL THAT “MEN SEEKING MEN” AND STRIPPER ADS AREN’T BEING TOLERATED IN THE HOMES OF THOSE THAT HAVE THE MONEY TO SPEND IN THE ADVERTISERS ESTABLISHMENTS!

    MONEY TALKS…LEFTY LIBERAL HATE BS WALKS!

  3. Brett
    December 19, 2006 at 5:04 am

    Great post Jerry you’ve outdone yourself again. How you do it I just don’t know. How’s that White Power thing going anyway. I hear the KKK is always looking for vibrant well spoken members like yourself.

  4. Someone who cares
    December 19, 2006 at 5:27 am

    Dave, why is it against the law to be a Christian and have that point of view in your opinion? Why is it better in your mind to be that dufus Steve Moss who was a sad, sad human being with no positive outlook on life. Too bad Steve Moss apparently did not find Christ. I am positive that right now, as he is experiencing hell and eternal separation from God, he wishes he was a bible thumper.

    I guess you think that when you die, as a dog, goat, chicken, or human being, you are just dead. There is no hope I guess Dave. Like the bible itself says, if what we believe is fables, we may as well eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. Do you really believe it Dave? Is it harder to believe in nothing than Christ? How was the world created? How did the bones in your inner ear develop? To me, it is harder to believe in nothing that to believe in someone, especially when that person is Jesus Christ. I may be foolish in your sight, but I know that I will see loved ones that are believers again.

  5. Dave Congalton
    December 19, 2006 at 6:23 am

    To Someone Whyo Cares:

    Thank you (seriously) for your thoughtful and heartfelt post. As I indicated in my original analysis, I have nothing against Christians and I don’t fault Ryan Miller for being a Christian.

    But I don’t want New Times to reflect Ryan’s faith. If I want that kind of publication, I’ll start hanging out at Parable.

    I fear for New Times.

  6. JerryDinAZ
    December 19, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    I THINK THE REAL FEAR ABOUT THE “BORN AGAIN NEW TIMES” IS THAT IT WILL SUCCEED! WHAT THE LEFTY LIBERALS NEED TO REALIZE IS THAT CONSERVATIVES AND FOR THAT MATTER CHRISTIANS PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTHS ARE! THEY FULLY SUPPORT THOSE ENDEAVORS THAT SUPPORT THEIR BELIEFS AND MORALS.

    IF THE OLD LEFTY LOOSEY NEW TIMES WAS PROPERLY SUPPORTED IT WOULD BE EXPANDING ON IT’S OLD BASE.

    THE LEFT FULLY SUPPORTS THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDING ALL THE FUNDING FOR THEIR AGENDA, BUT RARELY PUTS UP THEIR OWN MONEY! FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU BELIEVE IN INCOME DISTRIBUTION TO THOSE THAT NEED IT YOU CAN ALWAYS SEND THE IRS AND THE STATE MORE MONEY TO ACHIEVE THAT…BUT YOU DON’T! YOU WANT IT TO COME OFF THE BACKS OF THOSE THAT WORKED HARD TO GET IT.

    AS IT GOES WITH THE NEW TIMES. IT’S NOT ABOUT NEWS OR ALTERNATIVE STORIES AND ARTICLES. IT’S NOT ABOUT A WATCH DOG FOR CITY AND COUNTY GOVERNMENTS. IT’S NOT ABOUT PROVIDING SPACE FOR THE FRINGE ELEMENTS IN SLO COUNTY THAT WANT TO KNOW WHERE TO GET A MASSAGE WITH A “HAPPY ENDING”, OR WHERE THE HOT ESCORT SERVICES ARE, OR WHAT MAN IS SEEKING ANOTHER MAN, ETC…OR EVEN WHERE YOU CAN GET YOUR CHARKAS CLEARED!

    WHAT IT IS ABOUT IS MONEY!

    EVERYTHING FROM THE EVENING NEWS TO LEFTY LIBERAL NEWS PAPERS ARE ALL ABOUT MAKING MONEY. THAT’S WHY NEWS HAS TURNED INTO ENTERTAINMENT OVER THE LAST DECADE.

    THE REAL FEAR IS THAT NEW TIMES NEW FORMAT AND EDITORIAL BEND WILL BE SUCCESSFUL…THAT IS THE CORE OF THIS ISSUE. DAVE, YOU SAY YOU “FEAR FOR NEW TIMES”? WHY? WHAT IS TO FEAR? TALK TO A FEW OF THEIR OWNERS AND INVESTORS AND SEE IF THEY SHARE YOUR FEAR! THEY FEAR LOSING MORE AND MORE MONEY…THIS FORMAT CHANGE IS FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF ATTRACTING MORE LUCRATIVE ADVERTISERS AND THEN PROVIDING A BODY OF TEXT AND STORIES THAT WILL ATTRACT CONSUMERS THAT PATRONIZE THE ADVERTISERS! SIMPLE AS SIMPLE CAN BE.

    THE LEFT ABUSED THAT PAPER AS THEIR OWN BUT NEVER SUPPORTED THE ADVERTISERS ENOUGH TO KEEP THE PAPER ABOVE WATER. LET’S SEE HOW THIS NEW DIRECTION GOES. IF IT’S SUCCESSFUL THEN LET THAT BE A LESSON FOR THE LEFT…YOU MAY HAVE TO SALLY UP AND START SUPPORTING “HOPEDANCE” BEFORE WE THAT ONE BITES THE DUST AS WELL.

    SORRY GANG BUT MONEY TALKS…LIBERAL WHINING WALKS!

    YOU WANT DEMOCRACY & FREE ENTERPRISE? WELL YOU GOT IT!

  7. Rich from Paso
    December 19, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    I’m pretty sure that you have something against conservative christians. When you asked Pastor Doug if he thought, like you, that the right-wing had “hijacked’ the evangelical movement. You then source that by talking about Robertson and Falwell. Did you talk about the left-wing at all? What about MINISTER Louis Farakhan, REVEREND Jesse Jackson and REVEREND Al Sharpton, the latter both using the title REVEREND to run for president. Well, run for president when they aren’t out there shaking down businesses or falsely accusing cops of raping young black girls. The reason why both Robertson and Falwell have so much influence is simple: they both own television networks and have started accredited universities. Look, I’m not any more for religion intruding into politics, but to say that only the right is abusing religion for political power excuses the actions of the likes of Sharpton, Jackson and Louis Farrakhan.

  8. Puncho
    December 20, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    Speaking of Preachers check out Sundance channel and the show “One Punk Under God” It’s about Jay Bakker, of Jim and Tammy Bakker. You love this one. Some day he’ll be as famous as the rest of the so called preachers.

  9. Brian Kay
    December 21, 2006 at 7:28 am

    I’m the pastor of the church that Ryan attends — I’m not sure who your sources were, Dave, but since Ryan took the helm at the New Times, I’ve never met with him to talk about the paper. We used to meet for lunch when he edited the Santa Maria Sun, and occassionally we’d talk about his work, but to call it a “consulting” relationship would be more than a stretch.

    Even still, the requirement that someone like Ryan leave his faith “at the door” is easily overplayed. While I can understand your concern that a newspaper editor might covertly import his religious beliefs in illegitimate ways, there are many ways that one’s ultimate beliefs can increase the quality of work, especially in a field like journalism. If someone’s religous beliefs ground his convictions about justice, truth-telling, honesty, etc., — all of which are New Testament values as well as journalistic values, I’m sure we’d all hope those are not jettisoned merely because they were born out of religious conviction. In fact, unless we were to ask all newspaper editors to only ground the ethics that we expect of them in a specifically a-religious philosophical pragmatism, we need to allow that privatley held religious beliefs can properly inform public ethics. Of course, there are plenty of examples of misappropriation of religious beliefs in the public square — no argument there — but there’s not much evidence that Ryan has done so, Christmas cover-story notwithstanding. In fact, here’s one piece of counter-evidence that the New Times is some kind of vehicle for softy Christian sappiness (something I loathe myself): earlier this month we saw an opinion piece making fun of heterosexual soccer moms and the downtown Christmas parade. At least two f-bombs were dropped in the process. Whatever changes Ryan has brought, he’s certainly not forcing his staff to get religion.

  10. JerryDinAZ
    December 21, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    KUDOS BRIAN KAY! GREAT BLOG ENTRY! JUST REMEMBER THAT 100% OF ALL TV AND MOVIE CRITICS ARE “SP’s”. SECULAR PROGRESSIVE…AKA LIBERAL LEFTIES!
    THE VAST MAJORITY OF NEWSPAPERS ARE RUN BY SP’s…AS ARE TV STATIONS AND THE LEFTY DRIVE BY MAIN STREAM MEDIA ARE ALL SP’s. THERE IS A CULTURE WAR RAGING IN AMERICA! THE SP’s WANT TO TEAR DOWN THE TRADITION VALUES THAT MADE AMERICA GREAT…IN EXCHANGE FOR A MUSHY POLITICALLY CORRECT TOLERANCE POLICY THAT AT ITS END WILL HAVE SOME IDIOT IN VERMONT ABLE TO MARRY HIS DONKEY, WHILE SMOKING MARIJUANA ON HIS GOVERNMENT PENSION AND DONATING MOST OF TO HIS MOSQUE!
    THE TIDES HAVE ALREADY TURNED AND WE ARE WINNING THE CULTURE WAR IN AMERICA…AS WE ARE WINNING IN IRAQ BY FREEING MILLIONS OF VOICELESS WOMAN AND CHILDREN FROM THE HANDS OF RADICAL ISLAM!
    STAND STRONG IN YOUR FAITH…AND NEVER GIVE AN INCH NOR APOLOGIZE FOR THE GROUND WE HAVE TAKEN BACK FOR OUR WONDERFUL AMERICA AND IT’S TRADITIONAL VALUES!

  11. Brett
    December 21, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    Jerry, stop with the Bill O’Reilly bullshit. It’s obvious you cannot think on your own. You are a perfect example of why the Joseph Goebbels of the world convince peoples of nations to hate.

  12. Santa Maria Jerry
    December 21, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    God is not the answer for New Times.

  13. Anonymous
    December 21, 2006 at 9:08 pm

    The New Times going Christian?
    That ridicules! Last week when I was at the Sunset Carwash and I read thru the New Times and I did notice any overtly Christian propaganda. Dave here is your next big scoop, “The Da Vinci Code” it true.

    Mark

  14. Dave Congalton
    December 22, 2006 at 8:23 am

    To Brian Kay,

    Though we are honored to have a pastor join the discussion on the blog, I stand by what I wrote originally and have taken it a step further in a new posting.

    New Times is going soft, backing away from investigative reporting, playing up arts and events coverage. More and more religion will creep into these pages because of Ryan.

    He’s the editor. It’s his call. But the New Times of old is needed now more than ever and Ryan is hopelessly asleep at the wheel.

  15. JerryDinAZ
    December 22, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    WHY IS IT THAT WHEN A BUSINESS ENTITY MAKES A STRATEGIC AND SPECIFICALLY INTENTIONAL SHIFT IN IT’S MARKET FOCUS THOSE THAT DON’T AGREE THINK THEY ARE “ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL”?

    THE OWNERS AND MANAGERS OF THE NEW TIMES PAPERS HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE AWAKE! THEY SEE WHAT’S GOING ON AND THAT THE DIRECTION THEY HAVE TAKEN IS A FAILING ONE…SO LIKE ANY GOOD BUSINESS THEY REEVALUATE THEIR TARGET MARKET AND DEVELOP A SOPHISTICATED STRATEGY TO PENETRATE IT! WOW! THAT’S SOUND BRILLIANT TO ME!

    ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL? NOT AT ALL…

    ALIVE, ALERT, AND MARKET DRIVEN? YOU BETCHA!

    WAY TO GO NEW TIMES! KEEP THE FAITH!

    I, FOR ONE, WILL BE SENDING A PORTION OF MY MONTHLY TITHES TO YOUR PAPER TO SUPPORT YOUR EFFORTS! I HOPE OTHERS FOLLOW MY LEAD!

    CULTURE WARRIORS ARE TAKING BACK OUR NATION…AND THE SECULAR PROGRESSIVES HATE IT.

    NOW…WHO DO YOU THINK IS ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL?

  16. Santa Maria Jerry
    December 22, 2006 at 7:12 pm

    New Times needs more gay and lesbian material.

  17. Dave Congalton
    December 22, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    Rich,

    I have nothing against the relgious right except when they try to put their religion RIGHT in my face. Jackson and Sharpton don’t do that. You don’t see those guys out there lobbying for anti-gay laws and trying to deny constitutional protections to different groups of people on everything from privacy to abortion.

    Religion belongs in your heart, your home and your church. Otherwise, keep it out of my way!

  18. Rich from Paso
    December 23, 2006 at 8:00 am

    Come on, Dave! Who are you trying to con here? How can you say that the religious right puts it right in your face? How are they doing that unless you are spending all of your free time watching the 700 Club or something like that? The main reason why you see Falwell or Robertson at all is when they say somethign inflamatory on their rinky dink networks and the mainstream media makes a big deal of it. Other than that, what did Robertson or Falwell say today or yeseterday or last week that was right in your face? Nothing, that is the answer. Face it, Dave, you choose not not like the relgious right for what they say, not for how often or where they say it.

  19. Dave Congalton
    December 23, 2006 at 11:35 am

    Rich,

    Forget about Falwell and Robertson. They’re dinosaurs, totally irrelevant to what’s happening today. The Religious Right is best personified by James Dobson and Focus on the Family and all in his ilk.

    These are the pastors and the churches with the social agenda, preaching hatred and intolerance and bigotry, all under the guise of “protecting the family.”

    But if you call them on it, as I have on my show, they always respond by accusing me of bigotry because I’m attacking them. I’m supposedly intolerant because I won’t let them treat gays and lesbians as sub-human.

    There’s no comparison!

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