Monday, May 07, 2007

A Dying Newspaper is a Wonder to Behold

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune is dying. At least, that's what we presume from Lilek's announcement that he's being "reassigned" to work a straight news beat rather than provide his excellent commentaries via his wonderful "Quirk" column. Several folks, including Dave Barry and my brother, have indicated their support of Lileks, and I thought I'd do my part. This is what I sent to the STrib's "reader rep:"
I am writing to ask what in the heck the STrib was thinking when they "reassigned" James Lileks to a news beat. Lileks has a deep following that reaches far beyond the meager influences of your paper. If the STrib has more than a local following, you can thank James for most of it.

Lileks has a writing style and point of view that makes him a very refreshing counter-balance to Minnesota's other "celebrity" writer, Mr. Keillor. Don't get me wrong; I used to be a fan of Garrison's. Over the years, however, he's become simply too bombastic in his denunciations of roughly half of this nation's populace to be at all enjoyable as a writer of folksy wit and humor. Lileks, on the other hand, has never yet failed me.

If one had to guess, one could easily envision the editorial staff at the STrib wondering just how they might stanch the bleeding subscriptions from a paper that is merely symptomatic of the industry as a whole. Well, you could do just what big guns like the Los Angeles Times have done; fire your competent staff writers and columnists and streamline the rest. That'll bring in the subs for sure! Corporate arrogance is an awesome thing, indeed.

You people worry me.

For the record, the primary reason that poseurs like myself pretend to write today is that people like Lileks helped pioneer the way. He remains one of the most effective voices of the northern mid-West, and you're about to muffle that voice so as to make it nearly soto voce.

What a tragedy.

The day that Lileks ceases to write insightful columns (NOT insightful, over-edited news soundbites) is the day my interest in your organization also ceases.


Woody (real name sent to the rep)
Writer Wannabe
Anaheim, CA
Do your part! Support Lileks! We tried, as a blogospheric joke, to get him to run for Senate two years ago, but this is serious. We need writers like Lileks to do what they do best; not what the editorial bosses think is best.

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