Thursday, June 02, 2005

This is Interesting...

Earlier today, we were perusing the most recent issues of Ink and the Fort Wayne Reader, and noticed what we think is probably more than just a coincidence.

Both publications had stories on the saga of the Java & Jazz Cafe -- more specifically, how Cornelius Thomas, a self-proclaimed renaissance man who is accused of fraud, check deception, forgery, vandalism, harassment ran the fledgling business into the ground...and left a lot of angry associates in his wake.

It's an ecomonic development cautionary tale, but that's not the main reason why we found the two articles so fascinating.

Here's the first paragraph of the Ink piece:
It was an intriguing idea – a downtown nightspot featuring a variety of exotic coffees and an eclectic mix of live music nearly every day of the week. However, less than three months after its debut, The Java &Jazz Café, 1301 Lafayette St., is locked up tight – its owner evicted and facing a full menu of legal challenges and accusations including fraud, check deception, forgery, vandalism, harassment and more.
And here's how the Fort Wayne Reader article begins:
It was an intriguing idea – a downtown nightspot featuring a variety of exotic coffees and an eclectic mix of live music nearly every day of the week. However, less than three months after its debut, The Java & Jazz Café, 1301 Lafayette St., is locked up tight – its owner evicted and facing a full menu of legal challenges and accusations including fraud, check deception, forgery, vandalism, harassment and more.
Hmm. That's curious.

We could continue comparing paragraphs, but in the interest of brevity, we'll just tell you that apart from the following excerpts, both articles are identical. As in, it's the same article.
The Java & Jazz Café was the brainchild of Cornelius L. Thomas, 37, an “entrepreneur/ renaissance man according to his press materials, who launched the endeavor with plans for a host of ambitious side projects.

“Typically, each weeknight will feature a different style of entertainment,” Thomas told Ink in March. “We’re offering full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, Internet access... I think the city will embrace this.”
- - -
The Java & Jazz Café was the brainchild of Cornelius L. Thomas, 37, an entrepreneur/renaissance man (according to his press materials), who launched the endeavor with plans for a host of ambitious side projects. “You can come to the Java & Jazz Café, and there will be live entertainment almost every single night,” Thomas told the Fort Wayne Reader in March. “We’re also going to have a cyber café set-up.”
The article(s) was written by either a Ron Phillips or a Rob Phillips. The byline on the Ink story is By Rob Phillips/Ink, while the one on the Reader story is By Ron Phillips Fort Wayne Reader.

So what happened? Our favorite theory is that Ron/Rob Phillips is an alias for con man-entrepreneur Cornelius Thomas, who wants to squeeze as much publicity as possible out of his latest failed venture (after all, he's a renaissance man!), but that's probably not what occurred.

We have submitted email queries to Ink publisher (and object of MediaWatch's affection) Vince Robinson and his Fort Wayne Reader counterpart Michael Summers to try to get to the bottom of this. Some questions that we think need to be answered:
If you know the answer to these or any other questions (or if you don't think this is a big deal at all), please leave a comment at the conclusion of this post.

We'll update this story as more details become available.

UPDATE: Ink's Vince Robinson responds:
While I really got a kick out of the speculation about the origins of the story, the truth, of course, is quite mundane. The discrepency was just an embarassing typo. The correct name is Rob Phillips, a freelancer who has had several by-lines in Ink in the past. He wrote both stories and included only slight variations based upon what the respective publications had written previously on Java and Jazz.

A couple clarifications to the posting, however. The writer speculated that Ink and FWR might be "partners-in-news." That's pretty close. Diversity Media Group, Inc. (Ink's parent company), produces both Ink and the Fort Wayne Reader (we design and contribute content to FWR in partnership with its co-founder Mike Summers). ink's relationship with the Reader began in May. The "King of Comedy" cover story issue is our second publication in conjunction with FWR. So, yes, we were well aware that Rob's story would appear in both papers. We released the issues the same day as not to "scoop" ourselves.

I don't know whether Tracy warner will include this in his blog. But the JG has been
investigating the story since before the Ink/FWR exclusive.

Lastly - and this is my absolute favorite part - the notion that the Rob/Ron thing was an attempt by Cornelius Thomas to get more publicity gave me a great laugh... because it is probably just the thing that he would probably try. This is proof that the story successfully conveyed what witnesses described as Thomas' character.

The sad truth, however, is that Thomas has already threatened a lawsuit.

Again, thanks for reading both Ink and the Fort Wayne Reader. Please keep up the
good work and make sure to keep us all on our toes.

Vince Robinson
ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Summers writes us and concurs with Robinson. No scandal. Now get back to looking for the killer on the loose in Aboite!



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