by Dan Gibson
Full disclosure: I work for an alt-weekly, and I occasionally write for the Phoenix New Times, so I'm generally predisposed to root for my independent media brethren. However, I feel relatively safe saying that I would have thought Russell Pearce's attempt to hurt the New Times by boycotting their advertisers will go nowhere fast, especially since I imagine most of the movie-going public filling Harkins Theaters every weekend aren't all that concerned about a squabble between a former legislator and a weekly newspaper. However, that didn't stop blogger-turned-Regent Greg Patterson from speculating:
First, New Times itself has changed. We think of New Times as liberal, but it's really more anti-authoritarian. The paper was certainly a pain in Napolitano's backside. Now that the state has a Conservative Governor and Legislature, New Times' anti-authoritarian outlook is also a hard left outlook. The paper has also become a one note tune that's anti Arpaio all the time.
These changes will not be lost on advertisers. After all, Arpaio/Pearce supporters can go to, say, Dan Harkins and rightly say that New Times is trying to destroy them personally. We can debate how much popular support Arpaio/Pearce enjoy, but the number is not small. If Arpaio/Pearce supporters simply stop attending Harkins theaters, that would be noticed. If they start demonstrating in front of Harkins Theaters that would be huge. Harkins would be foolish to risk even one protest for whatever benefit he gets from New Times ads.
Which leads to the second point. New Times has picked up some "respectable" advertisers. Nothing against car alarms, breast augmentation and tatoo removal but those industries are unlikely to care about Russell Pearce's views on anything. Car dealers, restaurants, movie theaters and yes, breast augmentation surgeons however, will be sensitive to large pro-Arpaio crowds in their parking lots. Pearce is smart enough to use the Alinsky rules and will target, freeze personalize and polarize individual advertisers—and not just in Mesa. Shutting down the Harkins megaplex at Scottsdale and the 101 on the opening night of each summer Blockbuster would be a powerful message.
I'm pretty sure that if advertisers are OK with what's in the back of the book each week in the New Times, they'll be OK with swipes at Arpaio and Pearce, but I suppose time will tell. I wasn't really too much into the Limbaugh boycott (who really cares what that guy says anymore or who tries to make money advertising to his listeners?) and I imagine this attempt at action will be far less impactful, even on a regional level.