Letters to the Editor

The "New" CA

Editor's note: We received a great many letters in response to our request for feedback about the revamped Commercial Appeal in last week's cover story ("A New Day at the CA"). Almost all of them were negative about the paper's new direction, though Flyer readers, by definition, are probably a skewed sampling of public opinion. Here are a few of the responses:

To the Editor:

The CA's "new" content would be welcome as an addition to the day's news. Unfortunately, it's being substituted for the news we need -- in-depth coverage of government, public schools, and nonprofit organizations that solicit and spend millions of our dollars.

The CA has reduced coverage of these entities to superficial descriptions of the ongoing bickering among their governing bodies. No attention is paid to the community's deteriorating infrastructure or to increases in crime, in homelessness, and in hunger.

One example: the newspaper's recent extensive coverage of the population's flight to the suburbs, which it managed to accomplish without once mentioning the appalling conditions that continue to drive this massive emigration. If the city of Memphis were enforcing existing building codes, sanitation codes, drug laws, and other regulations designed to ensure the safety and health of its citizens, this problem would not exist.

We don't need a pal on Union Avenue. We need hard-nosed journalists spotlighting the problems of our community and leading the charge for change.

E.W. Brody


To the Editor:

I don't like the "new" Commercial Appeal concept. I want more real news and investigative reporting, more reporting about local issues, and more and better follow-up. I want less entertainment, "warm 'n' fuzzy" human interest, "my opinion" columns, etc. I don't like the "community sections" concept and have never liked the "Neighbors" sections. Does the CA think everyone spends 24 hours a day in their own neighborhoods? I am interested in what's going on everywhere in the city, and I would like to see all of the real news about all of Memphis in one place -- the Metro section.

Mary Ogle


To the Editor:

I like a newspaper to give me news. The new CA is short on that, so I get virtually all my news from the Internet. I scan the CA for the little bit of local news of interest. I would cancel my subscription but my wife likes the advertisements.

Andy Barksdale


To the Editor:

Put simply, I think the new CA is dull and short on substance. I think it is filled with drivel from journalists who now congratulate themselves on their civic-mindedness because they expect the community to deliver the news to their doorstep. I'm reminded of a recent City Beat column in the Flyer in which John Branston warned his news colleagues to "beware of stories that walk through the front door."

I think the new CA is managed by a team of yes-men and corporate lackeys who fail to grasp the concept of credible journalism. I must have missed the journalism class when the professor told us to collectively whimper to our readers: "Please tell us what you want; it's all about you!" I guess the CA's slogan has been unofficially changed to "If you haven't submitted it to us, it's still news."

Peck & Co. would have been better suited for careers in the restaurant industry with their "May I take your order?" approach to journalism.

Andy Meek


To the Editor:

Speaking of soft journalism, why did the Flyer pull its punches in its "exposé" of the new Commercial Appeal? You seem to deride the new tendency toward panda stories and toddler malapropisms, yet you quote very few dissenting voices. Was it difficult to find someone to say something negative about the paper? I could find five people without leaving my e-mail address book. Where were quotes from staffers at the CA, other than Chris Peck's yes-men and -women? Does Peck have everyone at the paper cowed into silence? Then report that.

Forget that the paper has eschewed cultural criticism and coverage of the arts, unless you count the new Cat in the Hat movie as arts. Forget that the paper is dumbing down so that the reading level is comfortable for everyone, including my 7-year-old daughter. Forget that the paper sees its community responsibility as publishing stories about each zip code.

Instead, let's get angry about the CA giving us stuff to smile about and giggle over, while the country wages an ignominious war. I read "CA Eye" every day, but it's not a substitute for journalism. I'd cancel my subscription if there were an alternative source. I need some form of daily news, however watered-down, and I'm sure not gonna get it from local TV news.

The Flyer used to anger me with its insistent battering of the CA. I thought you were childishly trashing the big boy on the block just for satiric fun. Now, when we need that old piss and vinegar, y'all have put your old weapons in the closet. Someone, anyone, please give us the whole story. Every time, every day.

Corey Mesler


To the Editor:

I have high hopes that the new editor will have the paper cover far more local news events and be more objective in the paper's editorials and political endorsements. If the CA wants to be more credible, it must first become more objective. I wish Chris Peck and his staff good luck. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Chas. S. Peete


To the Editor:

Why would the editors of the CA think I would have any interest in looking at other people's "refrigerator" items (vacation pictures, kids' pictures, etc.)? I don't even like looking at my friends' vacation slides. It's astonishing to me the amount of space the CA devotes to such trivia. Here's a "new" idea: Fill that space with news.

Rich Gordon

West Memphis, Arkansas

Flight Pain

To the Editor:

I realize our nation is under a heightened security level, but what I experienced at the Memphis airport was not heightened security but an abuse of the system.

I missed my connecting flight with Northwest Airlines. The gate attendant was very rude to me, and I began to weep profusely and beg her to please try to get me on the flight to Louisville. I honestly sat on the floor and wept. Hey, I am five months pregnant; I get a little emotional. The gate attendant's response was to call security. I was greeted not by a member of airport security by a Memphis police officer. That's right. Police backup was called to deal with a crying, pregnant woman.

My complaint is not with the officer. He was doing his job and spoke to me in a calm tone. But he did leave me with this rather chilling warning: If I was perceived by airline personnel as being hostile, I could be denied any and all flights. Northwest did not have an obligation to rebook the flight.

Hostile? I am 5' 3" and five months pregnant. Is my country now a safer place to live because officers are stationed, ready, and waiting to combat the threat of crying pregnant women in airports?

I found the whole scenario embarrassing and humiliating and do not ever plan to travel through Memphis International Airport.

D.K. Snow

Louisville, Kentucky

Turkey Day

To the Editor:

Just when you thought the Bush administration couldn't get any more surreal, we had our Thanksgivings interrupted by the indigestion-causing sight of Dubya carving up the holiday bird in Iraq. Hard to resist the caption that should have accompanied that photo op: "A Tale of Two Turkeys."

B. Keith English


The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, POB 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or send us e-mail at All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.

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