Sunday, July 25, 2010

25 JUL 10: Robbie on the River

The time has come to reveal a secret -- one I've known was coming for several months. As of this weekend, the news media in Columbus have new competition. In fact, this one could be both a friend and a foe. Play nice, and you might get a link. Foul something up, and you might wind up with a picture which isn't fit for The Daily Show.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: As of Friday night, Columbus has its own version of the Drudge Report. "The River City Report" is the latest project by one-time TV sports anchor and "Talkline" radio host Robbie Watson. If a certain Ford dealer would advertise with her, it might become the Rivertown Report....

Robbie Watson hopes her website will become a main stopping point for people seeking news about Columbus. The River City Report is intentionally designed to imitate what Matt Drudge does. Watson probably was as stunned as I was this past week, to learn Drudge actually has a staff of employees.

At this point, The River City Report is entirely Robbie Watson's project. She plans to comb the web each day, posting links to top stories of interest to the Columbus area. Several items this weekend have a military emphasis - as if Watson knows Fort Benning soldiers don't trust that left-leaning downtown newspaper.

But Robbie Watson hopes to use The River City Report to break news from time to time. Her first "exclusive" isn't well-marked above her masthead, but it's about the possibility a big bank might try to buy out Synovus Financial. Let's face it - that "S" symbol hasn't produced a lot of profitable $-signs lately.

A note of full disclosure must be made here. Robbie Watson asked me last winter to help her set up The River City Report - and I was paid a nice consulting fee for doing that. My main job was to build her home page, and make sure it had the proper computer code. Watson has adjusted the page for her big launch. For one thing, there's still no picture of her relative at a Woolworth store....

(You'll notice The River City Report is nice enough to include this blog at the top of its regular "link list" at the bottom of the home page. I didn't ask for that. Robbie Watson gave it to me - and to sit atop the Atlanta newspaper in anything is downright humbling.)

Robbie Watson hoped to launch The River City Report at the end of March. She waited four months to make sure everything was in order, but she's told me she wants the website running at Columbus city elections approach. So who will be first to leave her an anonymous news tip, claiming Zeph Baker and Teresa Tomlinson are dating?

The River City Report at last may give Robbie Watson the outlet she's wanted, for releasing two potentially explosive recordings. Several years ago she gained the only known interview with David Glisson about the Kenneth Walker case. Watson also talked with widow Cheryl Walker -- something the Republicans running for Georgia Attorney General probably also want to do.

People inside Columbus television have told me Robbie Watson offered these exclusive interviews to local stations. But the stations didn't want to pay money to show her recordings. For one thing, they actually MAKE money on Sunday afternoons by showing infomercials with Jack LaLanne....

Please don't confuse The River City Report with another local online project. "The Columbus Report" claims to be in beta form, offering the latest scoop on "what's happening right now in Columbus, GA and beyond." The "beyond" includes everything from baseball updates to Meghan McCain - so this could be a front for the Muscogee County Young Republicans.

The Columbus Report consists largely of Twitter updates, from a wide range of sources. The "local news" is largely from Atlanta, since the news outlets there seem to update more often. And the "locals only" area gives you everything from Booth's Corner Café in Phenix City to Columbus librarian Bobbi Newman. I'm not sure ketchup and kindles would mix too well....

-> Thursday night was another big one at the poker table for us. Read what happened (and more) at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Our recent mentions of the "gusher in the Gulf" led one reader to think back almost 20 years....

The American people are all worried (and they should be)about the clean up people on the Gulf breathing all the chemicals from the oil and the smoke from the burning oil..Yet,our military veterans who served in Desert Storm were exposed to the burning oil wells and now suffer from illnesses as a result. They are having a hard time getting medical benefits..The sky was black with burning oil smoke and our soldiers were exposed..Now they suffer from lung problems,severe itching rashes,migraines and PTSD and no one will listen...

The U.S. Army actually has a website allowing soldiers to check their health risk from the burning wells in Kuwait. So the viewpoint may have changed from a 1994 report, which called the long-term health effects "minimal." And we should be thankful U.S. soldiers in 1991 didn't have that itching in their trigger fingers.

Meanwhile, Masterbuilt fed about 1,200 Gulf coast residents at its "Grillin' for the Gulf" event in Gulf Shores. WLTZ noted even a couple of zoo animals showed up. I never knew parrots ate fried turkey....

Let's see what else is sticking to our brain this weekend:

+ Mayor Jim Wetherington told the Ledger-Enquirer suspended Parks and Recreation Director Tony Adams should NOT be coaching the Georgia Blazers basketball team at a tournament in Orlando. Now hold on - maybe Adams isn't really coaching. Maybe he's "networking," and handing out resumes.

+ Russell County School Board President Larry Laney told WRBL a contract with interim Superintendent Mike Green might not be ready in time for a Tuesday board meeting. Supporters of other finalists shouldn't get their hopes up about this. Senator Jeff Sessions received a one-week delay in a vote on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan - and Andrew Breitbart apparently couldn't find anything on her.

+ The annual "Kits 4 Kids" giveaway offered school supplies to hundreds of local children. This was WTVM's big event - yet for some reason, the late-night newscasts never mentioned it. Maybe the economy really has come back, and every parent can afford to buy pens and pencils.

+ WTVM interviewed Chris French about his latest project. Believe it or not, the well-known Columbus car dealer now is involved with Georgia Organic Farms. So what does he say to the farmers - "Let's mark 'em all UP"?!

+ The National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta announced it will close next weekend, and become an online-only museum. I assume Glenn Beck will blame this on President Obama on his radio show, first thing Monday morning....

+ The Georgia state Little League baseball tournament began at Double Churches Park. Based on the highlights I saw Saturday night, one of the sponsors ought to be an auto glass repair company - because a home run is going to smash a passing windshield sooner or later.

+ Journalists attending "SEC Media Days" overwhelmingly picked Alabama to win the Southeastern Conference football title. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik mentioned during his appearance that pro football teams want to hire some of his coaches. But if Alabama doesn't want them, is that really a compliment?

+ Instant Message to the promoters of Friday night's called-off mixed martial arts card at the Civic Center: Hopefully you learned a lesson from this. Next time, don't schedule MMA on the same weekend as a Fort Benning combatives tournament. Benning is less expensive, and some of the contestants carry weapons.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: An area grandpa buys his first pack of cigarettes.... but not to smoke them....

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