City Paper is not for tourists
Attention D.C. politicos: Ronald Moten is out of the beef-squashing business.
The Peaceoholics honcho, for years called on by politicos far and wide to do gang interventions and conflict resolution, has moved on to his next project: media entrepreneur.
His outlet, launching today, is called OtherSide Magazine. Get it? If not, here’s the publication’s tagline: “Every Story Has Another Side.”
Where his former job was all about settling tussles, this enterprise stands to stir them up. “I want a vehicle to tell both sides of the story,” he says Friday afternoon in his new office, a modest storefront on Martin Luther King Avenue in Congress Heights, a few blocks from Ballou High School.
In the front of the office, formerly a church, his only employee, Damon Gorham, does design work on a computer; Moten has a bare desk set up in the back, in the boiler room—-as in right next to the furnace. “I’ve always been a media man, a promotions man,” he says, sitting behind it. “The toothpaste can get out of the tube, and it can do much damage.”
Like the whole fishy fire truck fiasco, he says—-Peaceoholics found itself in the middle of the controversy over the giveaway of surplus city emergency equipment to the Dominican Republic, even though investigations later determined the group was little more than a middle man. The affair meant a bright light was shined on the nonprofit, soiling its reputation and imperiling its funding. (Moten says he is no longer involved in Peaceoholics’ day-to-day operations, but he remains on its board.)
So what stories these days deserve the “other side” treatment?
For one, Moten details “The Other Side of Omar Karim“—-the principal owner of Banneker Ventures and frat brother of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty who became entangled in the parks contracting mess. The article describes Karim, Banneker, and the parks contracts in the glowingest of glowing terms.
To wit: “Like Benjamin Banneker, Mr. Karim has committed himself and the firm he founded to improving Washington, DC. The mission of the firm is “[t]o change the world…one community at a time.” Banneker Ventures has remained true to this mission. This is a company whose ideals began to remind me of the noble goals and objectives of the Civil Rights Movement and such leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.”
The other subjects of OtherSide Magazine align pretty closely with Fenty’s political agenda. One piece deems Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander the “Worst Politician of the Year” for comments she allegedly made about dropouts. Another takes At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson to task for supporting tougher penalties for liquid PCP possession. Another talks up Blue Skye Construction, the D.C. government contractor owned by Fenty ally Scottie Irving, and its efforts to employ ex-offenders and troubled youth.
But OtherSide tackles some non-D.C.-specific topics as well. There’s a piece explaining why rapper T.I. sought to buy a vertiable arsenal of unregistered machine guns. Another piece deems Rush Limbaugh a “homegrown terrorist.” And then there’s this biological perspective on Tiger Woods: ‘Woods, like all humans who have come before him, suffers from two conflicting biological programs—-the urge to establish a pair-bond with a mate to develop a family versus the urge to consistently find new mates to fertilize and subsequently diversify his genetic potential through the generations.”
“That’s something the dudes in the street are going to read,” Moten says.
The articles are published on the Web, but Moten’s also printed up 5,000 copies of an eight-page newsletter promoting his stories. (The Karim piece is printed in full.) Already today, LL found stacks of the newsletters inside the John A. Wilson Building. Moten says he has youths handing them out at Metro stops and elsewhere around town today.
Besides the newsletter and Web site, Moten says he plans to do Internet video broadcasts and PR work. And his cash cow is a market well-known to the well-established music promoter—-go-go flyers, done by Gorham in a slick, bold style. “Flyers alone will pay the bill on this building,” Moten said Friday. “We’re doing all the go-go bands, but we’re going to start marketing to nonprofits.”
Moten’s going to have to expand his enterprise at some point, and soon. He credits “some saving souls” with helping him with start-up costs, but he’s the bottom line looms. “I’m gonna need some advertisers within a month and a half,” he says. “And I’m gonna get ’em.”
File photo by Darrow Montgomery