Thursday, July 01, 2004

Does crime pay?
The publishers of Snitch hope so. Take one part True Crime, mix with one part current paranoia about all things security, add more than a pinch of the voyeurism we all share, a dollop of public-records information from your local police reports. Shake well. Wrap it in syndicated material from the mothership out of Louisville, Ky., and voila, the newest entry on newsracks around here.

This "if it bleeds it ledes" paper has started appearing in Columbia, its latest franchise, with its publisher, editor and chief-cook-and-bottle washer, Jerry Adams, former spokesman for a state agency who was among those purged in the house cleaning of the latest South Carolina administration. I wish Jerry well.

It's an interesting concept. Each week's "centerfold" is a ZIP-coded breakdown of the local crime scene, but not that dry-as-toast stuff you see most papers run, copied word for cop-speak word from the local reports. No, the Snitch editors jazz it up a bit with a little attitude. This from one recent issue:
Creep uses unknown object to smash rear passenger window of this car, and steals a laptop computer and various music CDs. Total loss: $1,000, plus car's bent window frame. ...

Girl is fit ... to be tied, that is; ne'er-do-well steals her wallet from car while she's working out at athletic club. Wallet was in her purse under the seat, but purse had been moved when she checked. She cancels two debit cards, but not before someone charged $535 ...

Should've had a Snickers: Thief conceals Nestle's Crunch candy bar and heads for the Piggly Wiggly checkout lane. Thief stopped outside, and when questioned about the "purchase," pulls it from out of his right front pants pocket ...

You get the idea.
Each tabloid-sized issue has a local story on the front (recent samplings from Columbia: "CONNED!" about how local elderly woman is scammed by folks posing as bank employees ... and "You want drive-bys with that?" -- A Subway restaurant shot up in the latest of a series of drive-by shootings on the city's northwest side). All this is wrapped in a lot of syndicated stuff provided, I assume, by Snitch HQ in Louisville.

And there's is the obligatory horoscope (or should it be horrorscope) with its crime twist and the crossword, with answers such as "lawofthejungle" and "affidavit."

What a hoot. But it provides a voice not heard much in the other local papers, and so I wish it well.

I don't know if the editions are making any money, but a recent one had some ads - from a martial arts academy, a cat clinic, weight-loss center, restaurant, cell-phone provider, all-sports radio station, home-repair company and a steak restaurant. Hmmm. I'll let you chew on those demographics for a bit.

The Snitch site says it's publishing in Lexington, Louisville, Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati area), San Diego, Savannah and here in Columbia.
Want your own? Well, the franchise owners in Louisville say there are plenty of opportunities available. But if you're in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington or Wisconsin, you're outta luck (they haven't registered there. C'mon -- not registered in states with some of the highest-crime areas going?!)
You're also out of luck in Australia, Brazil, Canada (Provinces of Alberta and Ontario), The European Union, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia and South Korea.
But I guess those Afghani and Iraqi franchises are just waiting to be had ...


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