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12.10.08

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Commie Bomb

Calling someone a communist isn't exactly like launching the F-Bomb— unless you are a member of the local Vietnamese diaspora. That's probably why KBLX, the San Francisco–based radio station, recently received some complaints from listeners who say they were offended when a programmer on 1430 AM Vietnamese radio talk show used "profanity" when talking about Madison Nguyen, the embattled San Jose councilwoman who is facing a March 3 recall election. It all depends on what one deems profanity, according to the radio station directors. They say that the complaints they are receiving (primarily from Nguyen supporters) claim that the programmers called Nguyen a commie, as well as other nasty names, while on the air. Sources from the station say they have reviewed the logs of the program and didn't specifically hear the word "communist" come up in conversations about the councilwoman on the air. "They are harsh, and there is criticism, and she is a public official, but they do not go over the boundaries of the FCC," said one source from the station, who asked to remain anonymous—apparently afraid of the sticks and stones that might be hurled her way if she were identified.


The Mumbai Merc

The idea sounded so weird, it was as if someone had snuck a clip from The Onion into Fly's Sunday New York Times. But there it was: NYT columnist Maureen Dowd, writing about the work of local newspaper reporters being outsourced to India. It seems that Southern California publisher James Macpherson has hired reporters in Bangalore to write about everything from the Pasadena Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony to city politics. He calls it "glocal" journalism. It gets better (or worse): big-time newspaper publisher Dean Singleton, owner of our very own San Jose Mercury News (and every other Bay Area newspaper but the Chron) has endorsed the idea. Speaking earlier this month to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, Singleton pointed out that most of the pre-production work at his newspapers has already been outsourced to India, and suggested that he might task one news desk to handle all of his 50-plus papers, "maybe even offshore." He repeated the idea to a reporter following the speech. "If you need to offshore it, offshore it," he said. "In today's world, whether your desk is down the hall or around the world, from a computer standpoint, it doesn't matter." But apparently it does matter to Lean Dean's local employees. Media consultant Ken Doctor, who runs the San Jose–based media-crit site Content Bridges, recently posted a gag-map, allegedly created by staffers of Singleton's Bay Area News Group, which depicts the Media News empire relocated to the shores of the subcontinent. Singleton is typically unapologetic: "Too many whining editors, reporters and newspaper unions continue to bark at the dark, thinking their barks will make the night go away ... and the staffing in newsrooms will suddenly begin to grow again." Meanwhile, man the N.Y. Times once labeled "the industry's leading skinflint" suffers through the hard times in one of his half-dozen homes, which include several Colorado ranches, a summer place on Cape Cod and a primary residence in Denver boasting 11 bathrooms and an elevator.


Milk Money

Among the thousands of out-of-state checks that flooded into California in support of Prop. 8 last fall was one for $9,999, from Plano, Texas. This contribution to the anti-gay-marriage cause came from Alan Stock, CEO of Cinemark, which owns two national movie theater chains. In coming weeks, Stock will likely be earning a lot more than 10 grand from gay men and their supporters. Among Mr. Stock's 27 theaters is the CinéArts, at Santana Row. Fly received a note from a tipster this week who pointed out that CinéArts is one of only two theaters in the valley where one can see the new Gus van Sant film Milk. "To show a film based on a legendary gay activist fighting for gay rights after donating money to take away gay rights doesn't make sense," the tipster writes, demonstrating an admirable knack for understatement. Stock is becoming something of a nationwide cause célèbre, inspiring a nationwide boycott of his theaters.


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