We looked in recently on Tony Ortega, late editor of the Village Voice, at his new assignment as “Executive Editor” at Raw Story, and couldn’t find much. Far from the sensationalist claptrap that typified his Voice rantings, his articles, which are few and far between, focus almost exclusively on Scientology and “gun violence.” In other words, Tony has chosen his villains well this time: one is an identifiable fraud, and the other appeals to a wide enough cut of hysterical monomaniacs as to guarantee him an enthusiastic audience, however mawkish and shrill his “I feel your pain” arpeggios may get.
The site itself is a kind of Gawker for grownups — but only in the sense that there is little in the way of commentary on the undergarments of teen idols, or the indiscretions of rap stars. Otherwise, it’s almost identical in terms of depth of content versus wattage of emotional “look at me, aren’t I wonderful” paeans to right-thinking and vengeful dismissals of “not us/ergo not cool” wrong-thinking.
Still, it’s an improvement over Ortega’s last gig, which was noted chiefly for his willing stooge role for kiddie pimps Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey of backpage.com infamy, and his enthusiasm for running stories of the “Billionaire Marries His Own Daughter In Westminster Abbey” mode, with a wonderful indifference to fact or probability. But then, by the time Ortega left the Voice, there wasn’t much to leave. Most recently the rag announced further layoffs, and narrowly averted a strike by employees fed up with salary cuts and terrible coffee. There wasn’t really anywhere left to go but up.
But Raw Story doesn’t exactly stun the reader with its insights or opinions. If there is a hell for serious journalists, Gawker is probably it, but Raw Story isn’t far behind, and some could make a convincing case that Gawker occasionally runs lengthy pieces of admirable thoroughness and admirable investigatory complexity. No trace of this evidences itself at Raw Story.
As for Ortega, he continues to write his book about Scientology, now in the works for quite some time, and whose eventual release will be sure to dazzle those as yet unacquainted with the cult’s demonic avarice. Who these folks might be I cannot say, but Tony, they’re out there. They may be living in caves, clueless as wombats, but they’re your audience, and you deserve each other.