Monday, May 07, 2007

Lileks column comes to an end

Whether or not you actually live in Minnesota or more specifically the Twin Cities metro area, you may have heard of a columnist/writer/humorist/right-wing blogger by the name of James Lileks. He pens a daily rambling blog post which he puts more work in to than his actual full time job at the newspaper of the Twin Cities, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Well, the new owners caught on to his lack of effort being put into his daily print column and have re-assigned him to cover "news". It's a mixed bag as I can attest to knowing how bizarrely managed newspapers are from time to time. One day they want to be more like magazines and offer up touchy-feely personal interest feature stories and offbeat columns (i.e. Lileks) and the next day management changes course and wants news, news, news.

The only problem being that there is only so much news in any given area. Lileks essentially penned his letter of disgruntledness (is that even a word?) on his daily blog and asked his readers to voice their disgust to his employer. While in the world it should and I think still is cool to voice your displeasure with your employer, the new strip and flip owners of the local rag may not look so kindly on his rather public disagreement with the decision of the overlords of the Star-Tribune.

I'll be up front and say that the daily incarnation of his print column was just shy of shit. It lacked substance, was nothing short of filler and felt forced and dry. I'll also say that I used to read his daily Bleat online daily (how else?). He manages, even online, to keep his rather right-wing political stance free from his sometimes humorous Bleat by having a separate "screed" area to bloviate to "the base". I'll give Lileks credit, too, for clearly stating that he's not a news reporter. He knows what he is and what he isn't. Something that this harried old slag should take a long, hard look at as she should have been "re-assigned" as well.

Hell, if the newspaper wants to gut the living hell out of a product that desperately needs to hold on to its institutional-type personalities, more power to them but don't expect to recoup the purchase price when you have eliminated those who wrote with knowledge of their subjects. I don't claim to know how to fix a car but I pay damn good money to someone who does. That particular lesson is yet to be learned by new owners, Avista Capital Partners.


Peacechick Mary said...

Newspapers all over the world are struggling to keep their heads above water. People with internet access, don't want stale news. If we want to get more detail on information, it's just a click away. I don't subscribe to any newspapers as it's too much trouble to walk out and put them in the trash. Things have changed and they are going to be changing at a much more rapid pace. If I were running a newspaper, I would take out the word paper and change it to service and then find ways to provide the service. But, as you said, who are we?

Brendan said...

Achenbach feels your pain, too -- last entry in this post.

Love the Dave Barry quote he gives: "This is like the Miami Heat deciding to relieve Dwyane Wade of his basketball-playing obligations so he can keep stats."