My hope for 2008 is that the Star Tribune stops going insane.
When people tell me they’ve canceled their subscriptions because of the paper’s buyouts or suburban shift, I completely understand, although I won’t add my name to their ranks. Even in a diminished state, the Strib is still worth the price of a soy latte a week; it remains the area’s dominant news source, and nearly every other media outlet (including the Strib-hating ones) plays off what their reporters produce.
For all the demerits, half of Editor Nancy Barnes’ paradigm is right: beefing up investigative and enterprise reporting, the sort of applecart-tipping that declined during the Anders Gyllenhaal era. The problem is that beats have expanded, at least geographically, while the staff has shrunk. Survivors with historical knowledge of important issues have found themselves in unfamiliar new haunts, spread wider and thinner. The deep danger is the undertow that threatens to suck the legs out of Barnes’ impact journalism: persistent holes carry reportorial enterprise back into the daily wash.
I’ve long since given up asking the public to feel sorry for journalists, but this isn’t the goldbricking deadwood talking. These are talented folks who genuinely mourn their comrades, yet hope a focused, kick-ass paper will help rationalize the carnage. They deserve an unwavering focus on higher aspirations and a realistic appraisal of what’s possible. I wish them (and similarly situated Pioneer Press colleagues) a year of work instead of workplace drama, which would also be a gift to faithful readers and the fallen-away who get the good work free or secondhand.