Arash Kamiar: Dear Folio Weekly

January 5, 2016 10 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Arash Kamiar responds to Mathew B. Shaw of Folio Weekly regarding his piece "Disrupt Jax".

Dear Mathew B. Shaw, editor of Folio Weekly:

I was wondering why you seemed uneasy when I ran into you at the December 3rd HRO (Human Rights Ordinance) meeting; the one where male theologians battled over the acceptability of gayness. You and I know each other, subtly anyway, but it felt like I was happier to see you than you were to see me.

It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. I get it. Ron Littlepage was there and you two have a lot in common, like surfing the web and reading the news via modern technology. An activity, I presume, you think is a rare hobby. Social media is more popular than you might realize. Is this something you and Littlepage are also mousing around on?

At this town hall, I overheard one person saying he wanted to bring his gun to the meeting, just in case we were attacked by terrorists; this was his astute response to an older kinder woman who said something like “they do terrible things in the Middle East, like throw people off of roofs.” I know! It’s like she doesn’t live in Florida. Many horrible things happen in the “Florida Man” state and some of those things probably involve several roofs.

Back to the point, the next day someone sent me a link to your editorial, which referenced the “well-intentioned folks of” Thank you for the “bless their hearts” un-compliment, but we’re not always well-intentioned. Sometimes, we’re just intentioned.

Maybe your editorial was the reason you appeared apprehensive. Maybe, it was because you had published a kinda-critique of and here I was, one of the publishers, saying “hi”?  Or, maybe, I was overly excited when I said hi and you had to tone it down a bit. Again, I get it. Ron Littlepage was there, and you had to keep things super cool.

The particular piece which you criticized Is Jacksonville the next Silicon Valley? involved thousands of readers, including yourself. You consider it a throw away piece because of where the content was sourced; however, we consider it a success because the corresponding conversation was thoughtful, nuanced, contested and informative. Good conversation is the higher standard, you just don’t realize it yet. While Folio pontificates from a throne of recycling bins, we’re held to order by the ensuing dialogues from the Jacksonville community, directly, every day, since the day we launched.  

There is an irony to using your editorial to take part in a conversation, which resulted from an article, which you think is poor.  Don’t you think? You literally used your editorial to respond on whether or not Jacksonville is the next Silicon Valley. At least copy and paste that section of your piece into the discussion thread on Metro Jacksonville. It was a good response! You would have kept the conversation going and, at minimum, someone other than a Folio advertiser would have seen what you’ve written.

That’s a low blow. To your publication's credit, there are a lot of Folio advertisers. There was a point when I was certain Folio was devolving from a clumsily opinionated alt-weekly into a lower-order Auto Trader.

When the Folio writes about higher standards for the local press, it’s a little bit like a downtown Sysco-sandwich “deli” arguing for better food options. At least you see the need for better food options, but do you know you are a part of the local media?

In the same edition as your editorial, the headlining piece was about a church that doesn’t condone homosexuality.  Ummm, “swipe left”. Isn’t that the obvious sentiment of most churches? But, I guess, thank you for warning us to not be fooled by congregations with a modern sense of fashion and updated tastes in music.  What’s next, an in-depth look on how the KKK still believes in white supremacy even though members don’t have a stereotypical southern drawl?  Maybe, even a few dress like hipsters.

I wanted to use this space to criticize other Folio pieces, but I can’t. I don’t really read the Folio, and I write this with regret. There was a time when the Folio was iconic and something I looked forward to each week. Then, it wasn’t. It began to read like the self-righteous rants of pseudo-intelligent, privileged college-kids, on internship. Add to that the barely updated website and the strong-arm advertising tactics of “Best of Jax” and we're all left with a sub-standard publication.

I'm done with the criticisms.

Here's a compliment. Based on what I have seen and heard over the last year, I do think you are taking Folio to a better craft-like publication. It’s clear that you are passionate and that you are striving for better media in our city. When you’re wanting let’s pull some ‘spro, and have some conversation about Jacksonville's weather.  


Written by Arash Kamiar