IN PRINT: Editor’s Notebook — Hammered

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by Brian Clarey

It was bound to happen, but I thought I had a few more weeks before I made John Hammer’s resentment list.

Hammer, most newspaper readers in Greensboro know, is the editor of the Rhino Times and its predecessor, the Rhinoceros Times, which went out of business about a year ago but was somehow granted a new, more orange life.

More on that in a bit.

I’ve known Hammer for years: I freelanced at the old Rhinoceros for a time when I was between jobs right around the turn of the century, and I see John at newsworthy events in Greensboro all the time.

He’s much funnier in person, by the way.

I like him. And I have a great respect for his work ethic, his institutional memory — selective as it may be — and his genuine affection for the city.

But that’s not going to stop me from making a few swipes of my own.

In a section of his paper illustrated by what looks like a pair of Bermuda shorts, Hammer took shots at me, my staff, my paper, economic incentives, the city council, the concept of bootstrapping and even my landlord in just a few sentences, which I think we can all agree is a remarkable feat.

We keep our office at the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit business incubator in Greensboro that has been helping establish solid businesses for more than a quarter-century — it actually pre-dates the Rhinoceros Times. More than 100 businesses have graduated from the center, including Mack and Mack, Batanga Radio and Zenergy. Right now there are more than 50 businesses in there, trying to get a piece of the American Dream.

Hammer, who obviously hates the American Dream, took issue with city funding of the longtime nonprofit. Last year it got $1.2 million.

“[W]hich means all of us here at the Rhino Times are paying to subsidize a competing newspaper,” Hammer writes. “Forgive me if I don’t think that’s a level playing field.”

It’s funny because Hammer’s newspaper went belly-up until a rich benefactor, Roy Carroll, bailed him out — the same guy who never hesitates to ask for incentives in his projects. Carroll got a $2 million incentive from the city for CenterPointe condominiums downtown alone. If he asks for incentives for his planned new downtown hotel, John Hammer’s head might explode.

But hey — what do I know? My staff and I started this newspaper with our own money. I suppose Hammer and Carroll would ridicule that, too. Looks to me like they think level playing fields are for suckers.