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City Pages shifts toward online, loses staffer

City Pages creates a full-time newsblogger position, and staffer Jeff Severns Guntzel leaves.
By David Brauer

It’s another media sign of the times: City Pages is converting a print reporter position to newsblogging. And not coincidentally, staff writer Jeff Severns Guntzel has quit the paper.

Guntzel, a friend, didn’t want to detail his reasons for resigning last Thursday, but did say he was slated to fill the blogging position today. An ad on says City Pages is seeking someone who has “a rich familiarity with Minneapolis/St. Paul news, politics and commerce.”

Guntzel, like all City Pages staff reporters, had a quota for web items but spent most of his time working print stories. Given the usual blogger requirement — tons of short items — this leaves City Pages with one fewer full-timer to produce longer-form print news pieces. For now, the weekly is down to four such writers: Jonathan Kaminsky, Matt Snyders, Beth Walton and Bradley Campbell.

(I’ve left a message for editor Kevin Hoffman, and will update this item with his perspective when he checks in.)

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Like almost everyone, City Pages’ print versions have shrunk in recent months, so shifting resources toward online is logical. City Pages’ owner, Village Voice Media (VVM), has beefed up blogging staffs chain-wide. Most recently, they hired Roy Edroso, of the hysterical lefty alicublog to help fill the Village Voice’s Runnin’ Scared newsblog. (In May, Edroso penned the faux James Lileks piece for City Pages.)

Apparently the VVM godhead is a Dallas Observer blog, Unfair Park, penned attitudinally by staffer Robert Wilonsky. (Some of you may know Wilonsky from a stint critiquing movie trailers on Wilonsky clearly has deep local knowledge — he’s not some kid, though he produces like one: I counted 11 posts last Friday alone!

Guntzel, who grew up here, has the local chops, but if you’re the sort of guy who got into the weeklies for long-form journalism, a Wilonsky-like gig ain’t it. I don’t think Guntzel, a former international relief-aid worker who penned long pieces on Minnesota’s defense industry, Minneapolis’s “Disappearing Sex Crimes Unit,” and local electronic-music whiz Martin Dosh, is built that way.

Guntzel is the first Hoffman-hired reporter to quit; Guntzel says he didn’t ask for, and wasn’t offered, Village Voice severance payments (aka hush money). He’s not leaving for a full-time gig; he says he has some freelance balls in the air, but understandably doesn’t want to talk about them publicly until they land.