I have been an ardent admirer of the Mountain Xpress since I moved to Asheville in 1993. I've submitted letters and opinion pieces, which you've graciously published. I read it religiously, as I know many folks do, from end to end: First the letters (OK, I might glance down to check out who the author is first and then read, but still, I read them); the Opinion piece; City Council matters; local-issues pieces; advertising; movies; club scene; classifieds. And all the while I'm noting, as well, the ads and often patronizing those businesses.
I've always admired the Xpress because of its commitment, from my perspective, to presenting balanced, newsworthy, important, open-minded journalism. If there's a bent, it's towards open, expanded, dare I say "progressive" ideas — and progressive is good, considering its opposite (closed, fundamentalist, prescribed, backwards).
Imagine my absolute horror — and I am not exaggerating — when I saw in a recent edition a full-page ad for the widely accepted as highly erroneous and utterly propagandized 2016: Obama’s America. A full page ad … in the Xpress … our hometown magazine! I'm appalled! I'm sick! I'm so utterly disgusted and disappointed that I think I will take some time to determine whether or not I'll still read your paper religiously, whether I'll consider it worthy of my time, whether I'll patronize its advertisers (which I've done countless times), whether or not I can bear to be part of what I see as an ultimate sellout — the progressive media selling out to the fundamentalist, propagandized rightist extremists.
I've seen it happening around our fair city, selling its soul to the highest bidder. But the Xpress? I'm so ashamed, and sad, and disappointed — and did I say disgusted?
Maybe it's time to reconsider what we value and read and spend our hard-earned dollars advertising in.
— Virginia Bower
Xpress Publisher Jeff Fobes responds:
Please don’t pillory Xpress for being a community media outlet that promotes an active citizenry whether the citizens are progressive or conservative. In the interest of community dialogue, Xpress promotes a spectrum of points of view, not what some of us at Xpress agree with.
Second, during election seasons, Xpress’ policy is to run paid political ads from all points of view. The rates are the same for all candidates and parties. We don’t refuse certain ads because someone at Xpress disagrees with the message. We may at some point have to draw a line at ads that flagrantly violate some code of ethics, but we haven’t yet reached that point. But remember there’s a key difference between news content (where we do check facts) and ads (which are the for the most part the advertisers’ responsibility).
Asheville and WNC are vibrant, and full of diversity. What Xpress tries to do is protect that diversity and the region’s grass-roots activism. A key way we do that is to encourage thoughtful dialogue among the various and often contentious points of view.
I hope this helps restore your faith in Xpress.
— Jeff Fobes
Publisher, Mountain Xpress