If you’ve heard the name Tony Ortega, chances are it’s from his public “exit” as editor of the Village Voice — a publication which found itself in hot water when it was revealed they’d been advertising the services of known sex-traffickers in their seedy ‘Backpage’ section.
Ortega lobbied hard for the Village Voice’s right to earn ad revenue from the sex trade but after several nasty online spats, including twitter exchanges with Ashton Kutcher. In the end, Ortega “left” the Village Voice.
Unemployed, Ortega was to languish in professional limbo for close to two years before being offered the editor’s desk at Michael Roger’s fledging news blog, The Raw Story. The blog seemed like an ideal fit for Ortega’s talents. One media observer summed up The Raw Story’s mission statement as “a sustained commitment to shaping attention-grabbing headlines to fit fixed narratives for the purpose of swaying public opinion.” If ever the trajectory of anyone’s career was arcing toward a position with an outfit like The Raw Story, surely it was Tony Ortega’s.
And indeed, The Raw Story quickly proved ideal for Ortega’s unique editorial eye, allowing him a forum to publish numerous insightful stories for the public good, like the one about the wing-nut Republican gun-owner who shot off his own penis. Hard-hitting reportage at its finest. (The Pulitzer people didn’t remember that one when award season came.)
Still, as absurd and inconsequential as many of the ‘non-news’ blogs Ortega publishes may be, they belie a very real danger in the way they attempt to frame both issues and the reader’s attitudes toward them.
Ortega meanwhile left The Raw Story for unknown reasons and again dived in unemployment.