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| Columns |

Miami New Times Swallowed up by SF Rag? No Way. Reporter Greg Bensinger Screwed Up.

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Just the other day, Bloomberg News published a turd-filled story about the future of our newspaper chain. In half-English, half-Portuguese/Creole, the reporters said something about Village Voice Media being forced to bankruptcy court. A paper that's part of the chain, SF Weekly, lost a judgment to the San Francisco Bay Guardian involving alleged predatory pricing. That's all.

As a former financial reporter, I can say with some assuredness that these boys understand neither the law nor bankruptcy. Or maybe their editor did it.

But hey, don't believe me. Read this response from my boss and VVM co-owner Mike Lacey:

The false, inaccurate smear published by Bloomberg News regarding Village Voice Media litigation is outrageous. There is no bankruptcy proceeding against Village Voice Media or any of its publications nor are there legal grounds to bring one.

And yet there is the Bloomberg headline: "Village Voice Newspaper May Face Forced Bankruptcy in Ad Fight." The bogus charge is repeated in the article.

In fact, the author of this shabby journalism could not even get the jury's original verdict correct. Greg Bensinger claimed we were cited for "price fixing''--i.e., agreeing to set prices artificially high. The finding was for sales below cost--i.e. setting prices too low. This is the polar opposite of Bensinger's analysis.

Bensinger ignored what our attorney explained to him at length and ran instead with the titillating bankruptcy fantasy of the lawyer representing our adversary, The San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Lawyers, as we all know, can say just about anything.

A serial killer can be arrested by the police standing over his latest victim and the murderer's lawyer will claim his client was in church at the time of the crime.

Responsible journalists examine every word out of a lawyer's mouth with the same scrutiny that a trout inspects an angler's artificial fly.

Mr. Bensinger ignored our attorney's comments instead of scrutinizing them, skipped over the applicable law, and did not bother to review the public record.

In this case, Mr. Bensinger swallowed the bait in one hasty gulp.

Michael Lacey

Executive Editor, Village Voice Media

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