I’m a Mountain Xpress fan. Ask anyone. I’ve been at the loading dock Wednesday mornings to pick up early copies. Sometimes I even steal pages from my parrot’s cage to re-read a story. But there are limits.
The cover story of your Oct. 8 issue, illustrated with gay pastel shades of rain and a pink umbrella, has got to be the nadir of local journalism. The stock market falls over 2,000 points, retirement funds are wiped out, retail sales along Haywood are drying up, local citizens are losing jobs, tourism in this season of leaf-watching is down to a trickle in face of $4 gas. And Mountain Xpress, my trusted provider of news designed to “build community and strengthen democracy by serving an active, thoughtful readership at the local level,” runs a cover story on an alternative weather forecasting service.
The weather? The @#$%% weather?
Very publicly, for the past three weeks, this global economic calamity is not only changing worldwide power relationships, it is in the process of fundamentally transforming our day-to-day lives in ways we cannot yet fully imagine. And in the eye of this storm, instead of thoughtful and timely reporting of the story, the editors of Mountain Xpress have the sang-froid to coolly offer a cover story introducing us to a new source of weather information. Why? And why now?
Sure, “Local Matters.” But like the weather, a global phenomenon like collapsing world economies creates decisive local impacts. Asheville is part of the world, and when that world comes roaring up I-240 frothing at the mouth, I’d like to think Mountain Xpress is going to take note, report on the events and pass along some coping strategies our fellow citizens are employing.
Mountain Xpress covers a lot more than arts and entertainment, the environment and city hall. It covers Asheville—and sometimes, in these stormy times, an umbrella doesn’t really cut it.
— Gene Senyak