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Who Wants To Be a Questionnaire

Answers to your most frequently asked questions.

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Q: If The Memphis Flyer is free, how do you make money?

A: By far the most frequently asked question and an easy one. The paper is brought to you by our advertisers. They give us money to run their ads, which we use, in turn, to pay for the Flyer's production expenses. You pick up the paper, see the ad, go to the business and buy something, which brings that business income to buy an ad

Q: Why?

A: To paraphrase Flyer publisher Kenneth Neill from the paper's first issue: to let Memphians know what is really going on in the Bluff City.

Q: How did the Flyer get its name?

A: From a trio of sources all named Dixie Flyer: a train from the early 1900s, which ran between Memphis and Nashville; a trolley decades later that ran between Memphis and Raleigh; and a late 1970s semisuccessful underground newspaper named in honor of those two icons. That Dixie Flyer was actually the inspiration for the paper's name, since our founding fathers hoped to produce a newspaper (as the first press release said) that was "bold, informative, and entertaining." Hopefully, we've qualified, at least some of the time.

Q: What's it like to work at the Flyer?

A: Mostly fun. While there are the strain of deadlines and ordinary publishing demands, there is probably no better way to know a city than to write about it, which leads to this question

Q: Can you provide me with ?

A: This question generally asks for something like the lineup of the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival or the name of every lesbian bar in town. Or it could be a simple phone number or finding a barbecue contest team willing to be infiltrated by a reporter from a Japanese talk show. So the answer is "probably," but if you could look up the info yourself, we would be much obliged.

Q: Could the Flyer possibly suck more?

A: Anything is possible.

Q: Is the Flyer a Midtown paper?

A: We would like to think of the Flyer as cityversal.

Q: How much do entertainment listings cost?

A: They are free, which leads us to

Q: Can you list my Aunt Sally's 80th birthday party?

A: Events have to be open to the public. So, unless you're planning to invite all 1 million-plus who live in the area, the answer is no.

Q: How do you pick the stories you run?

A: A lot of ways. Sometimes stories are happened upon. Sometimes someone will call with a tip. Sometimes we'll take a story that's already been reported and look at what's not being said or approach that story from a different angle. Most of the time, we work to keep ourselves informed.

Q: What is Chuck Shepherd like?

A: We don't know because we've never actually seen him. Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird is a hugely popular syndicated column that runs in some 250 papers across the country. So to better answer your question we asked him to describe himself:

"I don't have time to answer that," he said. "I'm way too busy. Population increase has produced many more judgment-challenged people than there were when I started this in 1988, and the growing complexity of society offers those people many more opportunities to make news than they used to have. I've got to get back to work."

Q: Would you like to run my fiction or poetry?

A: In 1997, the Flyer ran a charmingly edgy short story about the Fourth of July by the late John Fergus Ryan. Otherwise, when we run fiction, it's not on purpose. It's called a "mistake."

Q: The Memphis what?

A: FLYER. It's been around 15 years. It's on street corners in green boxes. You've never seen it in Schnucks? It's free. Schnucks? It's a grocery store.

Q: Have you ever been sued?

A: Yes, though there have been more threats than court dates. One Memphis music legend promised to call a lawyer after his band was listed in the calendar as being scheduled to perform at a charity fund-raiser. Turns out he had forgotten about the gig.

Q: Does your staff always agree with the editorials you run?

A: The majority of the time but not always. And sometimes we don't agree with the editorials quite loudly.

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