Wandering Eye: Dissecting the Ray Rice redemption narrative, the new rules for Uber and Lyft, and more

Over at Deadspin, senior editor and occasional City Paper contributor Puja Patel wrote "Leave Janay Rice Out of Her Husband's Bullshit Redemption Story." The piece runs through the most recent attempts to fix the image of Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Raven who infamously knocked his wife Janay unconscious in an elevator in February of last year, which most recently includes two lengthy articles about the couple's relationship that were both written by men. "New York [Magazine] ran a feature entitled 'Ray Rice's Redemption Campaign' that tries to be coy from the top down but largely fails," Patel writes, "meanwhile, Men's Fitness offered 'Ray Rice in Exile,' which paints Rice as a god shunned from Olympus, a newfound plebe (and free agent) trying to stay in shape during the offseason without the benefit of league trainers." It's full of quietly seething zingers like that. The Rice redemption stories "continue the media's pattern of maximizing Rice's voice while minimizing" Janay Rice's voice, Patel explains. The piece doesn't criticize Janay Rice's decisions or deny her agency, it dissects the PR campaign surrounding Ray Rice's redemption and makes the case that we really haven't heard from Janay Rice, pointing out something that hasn't been pointed out much at all—that Janay Rice "has never been interviewed without someone else present." It's a very sharp piece of media criticism: "I'll say it: I'm more interested in hearing about—and hearing from, without the influence of others—the unconscious woman whose limp body was dragged out of an elevator face-down last year." Boom. (Brandon Soderberg)

 

The Baltimore public-relations firm Fontaine & Company is suddenly suffering from its own image problem over its work for a government-subsidized developer to overcome opposition to a massive planned project at historic McMillan Park in Washington, D.C. Former CPer Jeffrey Anderson has done some outstanding work on the controversial project, and his latest entry shows how key government leaders in D.C. are now questioning whether public funds should have been used to pay for Fontaine & Company's dirty work, which only came to light thanks to FOIA requests. TheInTowner.com site has also weighed in, saying Fontaine & Company's "stated strategies included such tactics, among others, as neutralizing and discrediting the opposition by claiming that the Friends of McMillan group 'has been hijacked by non-local, special interests and is spreading misinformation' (that's the pot calling the kettle black!), that 'the site was never a park,' and to '[p]rovide continuous political cover to local elected officials'—how's that for a gross misappropriation of taxpayer dollars! Why hasn't anyone yet been prosecuted?" The firm's website says it "specializes in mobilizing real people and communities to tell a story, spread a message, and encourage activism," and in this case, the story, message, and activism appear to have backfired on it. (Van Smith)

 

Whether you're following the "ride sharing" controversy or just love you some Uber convenience, this Techincal.ly Baltimore breakdown of how the state legislature hashed out new rules for the services is worth a read. The car service companies, Public Service Commission, and even the taxi industry announced that the new rules—which will take effect in July if Gov. Larry Hogan signs the bill—were OK with them. The key provision: Ride-sharing companies will continue to do their own driver background checks instead of submitting to the state process cabbies undergo. "The PSC had maintained that the companies fall under 'common carrier' rules, which are essentially similar to taxicab rules. Uber and Lyft backed [Sen. Bill] Ferguson's bill to undercut that ruling, and create a new category for ridesharing companies called Transportation Network Services." Ferguson, a big Uber partisan, will take the credit for this legislative innovation, which appears to be in the spirit of the innovations in financial-services regulation during the 1990s: "Under the deal, Uber can get a waiver so drivers don't have to get fingerprinted over the next nine month[s]. There's a provision for the drivers to get temporary licenses, which opened up an agreement with the taxicab industry. The same temporary licenses issued to the Uber drivers can also be issued to new cabbies." Right: It's a relaxation of existing regulations for all the players. "Innovation changes the economy," Ferguson told Technical.ly Baltimore. "Many times regulatory bodies are sort of stuck with very rigid laws that are passed based on prior economies." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

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