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Buyout update: Lileks, CJ, Sack

Talked to James Lileks, had an interesting email exchange with C.J., and want to fine-tune earlier reporting on editorial cartoonist Steve Sack.

The short version on Lileks and C.J. is that both are “no comments” when asked whether management might take their columns in a buyout shuffle.

Lileks — who by nature makes ebullient seem sluggish — didn’t seem like a guy whose life was about to change for the worse. He seemed especially jaunty about co-anchoring “Strib TV” coverage of Tuesday’s Canvassing Board hearings with political editor Doug Tice.

His biggest worry, he said, was looking like Ted Baxter. Of Strib management, he said, “I’ve been talking to them today” but when pressed for details, politely wouldn’t provide any.

I wouldn’t term the first sentence of C.J.’s reponse polite, but she wrote back promptly: “I am responding to you as a professional courtesy, because I like to hear from people even when they have nothing to add,” she emailed. “My bosses asked me not to discuss our meeting.”

As for Sack: I mentioned he was “targeted” in my first buyout piece, but for now I think a better word is “eligible.” His is a job classification of one, but his presence on management’s list only indicates they’d accept his buyout request if he offers one. I have a call into him for more details.

[Update: Sack says “offered” is the best word to describe his buyout situation, which indicates the carrot was presented without any customized stick.]

I’ve also asked for Katherine Kersten’s and Nick Coleman’s comments, and will provide them when/if they offer them up.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Mike Kluznik on 12/15/2008 - 10:49 pm.

    Say what you will about the political leanings and hypothetical reporting skills of Coleman and Kirsten, this is a sad day for newspapers. LIsten, I started carrying papers at about age 10 in the McDonough housing project in St. Paul. I’ve been hooked on the newspaper ever since. You carry papers in a canvas sack slung over your shoulder some snowy Sunday morning when the temperature is 10 below, and you really do develop a very personal relationship with the medium.
    I’ve never been a fan of Kirsten and have generally liked Nick Coleman’s pieces. That said, it is a sad day when the biggest paper between Chicago and San Francisco makes such cuts. I take it all very personally. Maybe the internet will fill the vacuum, but I wouldn’t put my money on it.

  2. Submitted by Aaron Petty on 12/15/2008 - 11:08 pm.

    Say it aint so! What will the city do with out it’s “celebrity” columnist? The Strib will certainly lose its journalist credibility with the loss of quips like:

    “So in a very unThankgivingy move, I called Shelby Wednesday to tell him that I was revoking his “Honorary Black Guy” card. Long, long time ago I elevated Shelby to honorary black guy because of how well he plays basketball and because Don thinks he prepares gumbo like an old Southern black woman.”

  3. Submitted by John Olson on 12/16/2008 - 06:53 am.

    This whole process with the Strib has the same look and feel of watching a building being imploded in very, VERY slow motion. Unless a miracle happens, the question will not be IF the Strib files for bankruptcy, but when.

    Memo to C.J.: Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. A reply consisting of “Sorry, but I can’t comment…” is preferable to taking a cheap shot at a fellow professional who is simply doing his job and then following it with a “no comment.”

  4. Submitted by Steve Pease on 12/16/2008 - 10:23 am.

    I cannot BELIEVE I’m defending CJ, but…
    From that quote, it seems like she was saying that she’s replying to DB – despite the fact that she couldn’t comment – because she appreciates it when others do the same. In other words, she wrote back because she hates it when people don’t email her back.
    Although, I’m not sure if she’s saying that Brauer had “nothing to add” or if she’s referring to her own nothingness. Digress.

  5. Submitted by B Maginnis on 12/16/2008 - 12:31 pm.

    Strib trivia question for 5 years from now:

    “What was it that CJ ‘didn’t see enough of around (her) house these days'” in her December 2009 column?

    Has anyone asked Barbara Flanagan this question?

  6. Submitted by paul johnson on 12/16/2008 - 02:34 pm.

    Chris Henjum-

    You are incorrect.

    The media facing imminent extinction is not the newspaper – it will morph into an online version – albiet less lucrative than before. The media facing extinction is local television broadcast news.

    Don Shelby is a dinosaur. Never again will he – or anyone else in television news – ever be paid what they have in the past.

    There is NOTHING that local news offers you can’t get online. No in-depth news (I get that at, weather (I get that from or sports (

    The challenges facing newspaper are are facing all old media. It is a signal of things to come. In 5 years there will be no local news team boring us with waving and 10 minute weather updates, no local radio djs (they will be national – why pay multiple local talents when a few national personalities are cheaper), and no print magazines, etc. Have you seen the recent circulation numbers for Mpls/St. Paul Magazine?

    Meanwhile the StarTribune will have morphed into a weekend paper aimed at a highly-educated, well read demographic and an extremely popular online edition.

    Mass media – ladies and gentlemen – was a 20th century experiment buried on the trash heap of history…..

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