Wednesday, March 05, 2003

The Commercial Appeal's Strategy, Phase IV

Yesterday, I blogged about the CA's strategy in dealing with folks who oppose the plans they support. In the specific example, it was the folks calling for a boycott of Grizzlies games as a protest against perceived unfairness in minority hiring by the builders of the soon-come FedEx Forum.

The paper covered the boycotters' plans on Saturday, the least-read newspaper day; then included a warning story deep in the A section on Sunday; then dropped the story on Game Day, Monday, so as to minimize the chance of last-minute participation; then announced with Page One fanfare how the boycotters had failed, on Tuesday. Today's CA moves on to the next phase: the editorial against the critics.

The editors, having safely seen the results they'd wanted, now crow, in an appropriately solemn manner, how the boycotters have it all wrong and are out of touch with Memphians. They also trot out all the facts first laid out in yesterday's story for another go around the track; they were written yesterday, so that makes them today's received wisdom.
It is a failure to recognize the progress that has been made by people who know from experience when it's time to pull the boycott trigger.

The crowd at Monday night's game was, in fact, larger than the average Monday-night crowd at The Pyramid, where the National Basketball Association Grizzlies are playing home games until the new arena is completed.

By their presence and their comments, it was clear that those in attendance didn't believe a boycott was appropriate. A small group of protesters, one of whom said he was being paid $2.50 an hour by "some guy," marched outside the Pyramid and told reporters they really had no stake in the argument. They were just picking up a little extra cash.

Boycott participants who gathered to watch the game on television at a downtown venue numbered 75 to 100.
There's just one thing missing from the editorial, a rather key point: while African-Americans are a solid presence in our City and County government, they are still woefully missing from the financially lucrative building/developing community.

True, it takes time and work to build up a business successful and large enough to handle projects like a FedEx Forum, Pyramid or Peabody Place. But it is clear to anyone who looks that the folks who'll profit most handsomely from the FedEx Forum's building are all very, very white. They are, in fact, still a rather tight-knit club.

That's what the CA conveniently, and I think, intentionally doesn't tell you. Boycotts are economic tools, very powerful because they hit right where business lives: in the bank account. And that's why the paper is going after this one story so hard: because success in the boycotters' efforts will cost that tight-knit club some precious money.

Can't have that, now, can we?

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