munchman: Unbelievable Message from an Anti-Women Editor

Hey, I can be as full of crap as the next guy, but not this next guy:

This really shocked me:

Reactionary men who fear and hate strong women – by Michael Calleri

What you are about to read may shock you. It’s all true, and it happened to me. It involves censorship and the movies and one man’s loathing of strong contemporary women.

I love motion pictures, and I love writing about them. I have been a movie critic in Buffalo, New York for a number of years. Reviewing films rose out of my passion for both journalism and cinema, the perfect combination.

In preparing this column, I thought about various headlines for it. Something like: The Perils Of Movie Reviewing. Or perhaps: What’s Happening To Freedom Of The Press? Or maybe this one: There Truly Are Reactionary Men Who Fear And Hate Strong Women.
Through nearly two decades of writing and talking about movies, I have always had complete freedom of content. I could say and write what I wanted. It was a permanent hallmark. No publisher, no editor, no news director, no show host, no anchorperson ever dictated the terms of my stories to me. They were confident in my knowledge of the subject matter, and they respected my professionalism and expertise. I was always grateful for the experience and their hands-off attitude.

From the flush years of hundreds of screenings and junkets and interviews and a general sense that the world of film was a wonderfully creative realm and that reviewing movies is one of the great gigs, to the present-day with a little less access, fewer screenings (more and more markets are being denied press preview screenings), and a sense that movies are a commodity, I had never once–not once–been told what to write, or about whom to write. Not at the television station where I worked for most of the go-go 1990s, not through 15 years of reviewing on radio, which I still do; not at the local Buffalo weeklies for which I covered the motion picture industry and reviewed films, and not for the quirky website to which I contribute an occasional piece. Never has anyone dictated the terms of the content of my columns to me. Until now.

I am stressing the importance of this freedom because it is fundamental to why I was compelled to stop writing for a weekly newspaper in my area.

This story, with its villainous treatment of strong women, is so appalling, that it borders on being unbelievable. It isn’t. It deserves to be told and really does require a detailed explanation. Many writers will recognize the trail of experience I have traveled. But I wonder if any writer has faced what I ultimately faced.

In addition to reviewing on television and radio in Buffalo, and once in a while specifically on the web, I have always written for a print outlet, and always for one of those scrappy little weeklies found in every American city.

Until recently, I was writing movie reviews for the Niagara Falls Reporter, a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 22,000, which is available in Niagara Falls and Buffalo in Western New York state, a metro area of 1.2-million people.

The weekly Reporter was founded many years ago by a group of people, especially writers, who worked for the daily Niagara Falls Gazette. They were unhappy with the direction the Gazette was taking.

The Reporter’s key impetus was a true iconoclast, a guy who is in the Charles Bukowski mold. His name is Mike Hudson and he is famous for being a local legend, a fast-talking raconteur, an author, a poet, a two-fisted guy (if you know what I mean), and an important member of the seminal punk band, The Pagans. I liked Mike.

Under founder Hudson, writers had complete freedom of expression at The Reporter. The newspaper was a stark contrast to the staid and traditional Gazette. The Reporter was also wildly popular.

As often happens in life, things change. Editor Hudson, a mercurial guy in his mid-fifties, wanted something different. His wife was the managing editor of the Reporter, and he had a loyal staff of talented writers, including a couple of Pulitzer Prize winners he knew, who contributed the occasional column. But Hudson was discontent. He had created a weekly newspaper that shook the status quo. The team at the Gazette wasn’t happy with Hudson and the Reporter. The citizens of Niagara Falls were so enamored with Hudson’s paper that its power grew. The city’s government often printed many legally required public notices in the Reporter. If you are unaware, legal notices are a huge source of income for newspapers. The feisty little weekly was, for many, the heart and soul of communications in Niagara Falls. The newspaper’s fans in Buffalo were equally enamored.

Soon Niagara Falls would have its heart broken.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Hudson took a sabbatical and went to Los Angeles to recharge his creative juices. This being the era of long-distance editing by computer, he continued to oversee the newspaper’s content, ably assisted by his wife and other members of the Reporter’s team.

Los Angeles wove its spell over Hudson. Yes, it’s the old story about pastures being greener on the other side of the fence. Hudson fell in love with the southern California lifestyle. He decided to stay. His wife was in Niagara Falls putting out the paper with the rest of the staff. As time passed, his marriage fragmented, and he sold the Reporter to a new owner whose journalistic experience could fit into a peanut shell. As a prospective publisher, the new guy’s only genuine association with professional journalism was that he read newspapers.

But, this new man was a political and sociological firebrand with a point-of-view all his own. And a rather charged point-of-view at that. Over a short period of time, the pages of the Niagara Falls Reporter went from being an avenue for a variety of expressions and a fact-based gadfly to City Hall–to its being a nasty, mean-spirited, hyperactive assault on sensible interaction with city government.

Suddenly the pages of the Niagara Falls Reporter, once a well-respected weekly that people sought out and generally enjoyed reading, were filled with sexism, racism, the mockery of immigrants, the condemnation of gay men and lesbian women, crude demeaning political tirades, and poorly-written, loopy cultural points-of-view that drew attention, but lacked depth and a coherent understanding of the history and progression of the cultural touchstones being discussed.

Read it all

I can’t swear up, down, or sideways that this is true. I don’t know any of the participants or even the forces involved. But it’s news and deserves to be out there for discussion. The article doesn’t load properly on WNYMedia.Net, the site that originally carried this, but Roger Ebert’s blog at SunTimes.Com has it in full and is up and running.


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