The great thing about our small, local media market is that it makes a fine starting point.
A bevy of national media figures have "made their bones" right here in the heart of the Midwest and KC always lays claim to their career fast track as a method for this town feel better about being left behind.
Still, the face of journalism has changed in this digital era and even the Alternative press now faces challenges from independent websites and blogs.
Former Kansas City Pitch Editor Tony Ortega’s career path comes to mind when thinking about the new media landscape vs. the old school alternative press. Let’s take a look:
First of all, let’s give credit where it’s due. When Ortega was in Kansas City around 2006, I was one of his biggest fans. And his latest job as Village Voice Editor puts him at the pinnacle of journalism at The Center Of The Universe – New York City, Manhattan in particular.
So, it’s actually disappointing to me that Ortega’s rise to power might not be all that it seems.
The main problem faced by the former Kansas City newsie is the same "stone in the shoe" of all big media during this digtial revolution.
The Internet just seems out to get him.
As I’ve regularly demonstrated, just about any d-bag can write a great hit piece and put it online. However, The Daily Cannibal has a serious "jones" for Ortega and they’ve put some research into their attacks that seem to strike a chord. In fact, the rebuke of Ortega even notes his "Confederate Hell" Pitch spoof that ran afoul of so many media watchers in Kansas City. Because the party of Civil War Confederate Solider remains discovered under the Sprint Center seemed somewhat plausible until it was revealed to be nothing more than a slightly funny joke. So, The Daily Cannibal has an axe to grind and that’s a big part of what powers the Internet and thwarts a press that’s not so "alternative" nowadays.
But the real crux of their argument isn’t with Ortega at all, but offers a rather brutal appraisal of the nature and the new configuration of The Village Voice, the pinnacle of the Alternative Newspaper pyramid. Check it:
"Tony Ortega now struts down the hallways once peopled by Sidney Schanberg, Nat Hentoff, Robert Christegau, Jules Feiffer, and a lot of other eminent names in American letters whose awards came not from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies but from names like Pulitzer, Guggenheim and the NEA . . .
This is not the Village Voice you knew. The fabled names have all gone away, quit in disgust or fired because they were too expensive for the new, slimmed down, sleaze-for-no-charge VV. The Tiffany’s of American alternative journalism is now nothing more than a street bazaar of faux-investigative exposes, a few remaining real writers (Robbins, Musto) and a ream of ad pages, including teasers for pictures of Brett Favre’s thingie. The fact is, given the Voice’s breathtaking plunge into the tawdry, Ortega is probably the right guy for the job."
Ouch. That’s harsh and I completely disagree with the premise that Ortega is a hack. He’s actually a really nice guy and one of the most talented journalists ever to pass through this town.
However, what these Internet attacks against the once-beloved Kansas City Newsie demonstrate is the even the highest level of journalistic achievement is possible starting from Kansas City. Yet sadly, in the end, even a prestigious journalism dream job in this day and digital age might still be a disappointment.