Friday, March 22, 2013

So Long, Steve Hammer, and Thanks For All The Fish

Longtime NUVO columnist Steve Hammer recently accepted a job offer in the Lone Star state of Texas. This means he'll be ending his weekly column in the weekly alternate paper. On that end, I wish him the best for him and his family.

But as a columnist often representing the liberal viewpoint, and as the former editor of the music section of Nuvo, I can't say he'll be missed.

My criticism of Hammer isn't that he's liberal. But that there isn't much thought put into what he writes about. When Governor Mitch Daniels was still in office, he'd often criticize Daniels for privatization efforts and praise Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard within the same column, even though their policies on privatization often were similar (and sometimes using the same contractors).

I don't think anyone would hold Hammer up as the best representative of the liberal viewpoint in Indianapolis print media. That honor should go to Star columnist Dan Carpenter or former Star/current Indianapolis Business Journal columnist Sheila Suess Kennedy.

As the former editor of the music pages of Nuvo, Hammer left much to be desired. A Facebook discussion mentioned an all-girl rock group he often promoted that never amounted to much. The general consensus was they weren't bad, but they weren't the goddesses of music that Hammer made them out to be and probably didn't warrant the several front-page stories they got.

In my time as a contributor to Indianapolis Music Net, some of the writers, editors, and photographers had a much more contentious relationship with Hammer. I went to a concert at The Emerson Theater and had a photographer with me. My review, and the photographer's photographs, were up the next day on the web site. The next time Nuvo came out, the photographer's photographs appeared in Nuvo with no attribution to him. Hammer also wrote a very critical review of the concert. The photographer I was with claimed that he was all over the venue and stage that night and never saw Hammer at the show.

This incident happened several years ago, and I don't remember if an apology was issued or if a correction was made in the online version of the story. But even if there was, there were still thousands of printed Nuvo copies that made it out that the photographer did not give permission for and received no proper attribution.

Hammer's consistency in turning in thousands of articles on time should be admired. But much else as a columnist and an editor leaves much to be desired. So long, Steve, and thanks for all the fish.

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