Tuesday, September 12, 2006



Just a week after Dan Cook of Free Times broke the riveting story of Portico Publications’ office move, Cook’s investigative reporting within his own office continues.

Ole’ Danny Boy is relentless.

This week, while reporting on Free Times’ newspaper redesign, he quotes an anonymous source on the grueling process of selecting a new font:

“This one looks too frivolous,” someone would say.

“That one looks too stuffy,” was the verdict on another.

Who is this masked man, this anonymous talker, this “Deep Throat” at Free Times? Heck, Cook’s protection of his inside source is the kind of risky, aggressive journalism you’d expect to see in an alternative newsweekly. But our inside source at Free Times tells us that Cook -- yes, Cook! -- is the one that those new delivery boys refer to as Deep Throat.

As for the redesign, Free Times made significant changes.

The paper moved the classified section to the back of the book like virtually every other newspaper in existence. (That middle-of-the-book classified experiment was friggin’ moronic!)

Cook may have also obtained the first document of his journalistic career: the Columbia City Paper media kit.

Our media kit contains headers that are eerily similar to the new Free Times article headers. Cook’s ability to review the document he obtained didn’t stop there. It’s clear he noticed that CCP carries SuDoKu, as well as our mention of “where classified are supposed to be.” (The answer: not the middle of the book! That’s friggin’ moronic!)

Unfortunately for Cook, making his paper look more like Columbia City Paper doesn’t change the fact that the Free Times cover stories are still sophomoric. Case in point: writing on bathroom stalls. (That’s friggin’ moronic too!)

Besides Cook’s piece on the redesign, the other top story in this week’s issue was about their new music editor. Kevin Foster Langston took a page out of Cook’s book, stepped across the hall, and interviewed his fellow music writer Patrick Wall.

Since Free Times is clearly taking suggestions from CCP, here are a few more:
1. Write an interesting cover story every now and then. Re-running a feature story on Jimmy Carter that appeared in Mother Jones months earlier is well, uh, lame.
2. Stop overcharging your advertisers. They know what you’re doing. We tell them.
3. Find a permanent position for Jim Small. He deserves it. Suggestion: How about Dan Cook’s job?
4. Don’t tell your readers to call the theater for show times for Monetta Drive In and Columbia Grande. You do it. The whole point of having movie times is to provide them to your readers. Idjits.
5. Stop rehashing news from The State newspaper. That newspaper is almost as bad as Free Times.
6. Buy Dan Cook a phone.
7. Get another source besides SCHotline.com.
8. Kill the golf page. That’s friggin’ moronic.
9. Start calling Brett Bursey for quotes every week again. It is embarrassing that you haven’t spoken to him since CCP detailed his past dealings.
10. Enough with the special sections. People are starting to catch on to the endless advertising schemes. And, uh, in case you didn’t notice: No one is falling for Sidelines.

Congrats on the new fonts, though. It’s a start. But, just remember: sprinkling a dog turd with glitter and tying it off with a bow doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a dog turd.

_ Paul Blake