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Paul Douglas out at the Star Tribune

The Strib's own story buries the lede, noting that Channel 4's meterological team will take over the Strib's back-page weathercast. On some level, it's the second time in a year WCCO has cost Mr. Douglas a job.

Observers have long wondered when the Strib would partner with a TV station. The piece intriguingly alludes to "a partnership that begins today with weather news and will extend to other news, joint advertising sales and promotion."

Paul Douglas
Paul Douglas

The "other news" component will raise eyebrows, but for now this seems all about weather, which generates monster pageviews for TV websites.

Says WCCO spokeswoman Kiki Rosatti, "Right now, we're not even specific [about] news. This partnership is going to launch with the weather component, because weather is something we've rebranded and refocused and put a lot of our energy into. This relationship with the Strib is taking this 'lifestyle weather' to the next step, above and beyond what we'd get on a daily basis with our newscast and our webcast. In the near future, our hope is that we would have weather updates on wcco.com and startribune.com."

While the partnership makes sense, neither organization is coming in strong. The Strib is obviously suffering in the current advertising depression, and local TV news isn't in great shape either. Joint sales and promotion are all about increased revenues, but while shared content may never extend beyond the weather map, both newsrooms will fret over job-cutting "efficiencies."

By the way, both operations are unionized.

Mike Fairbourne
Mike Fairbourne

Back to weather for a second: Douglas was a popular but polarizing figure with WCCO's audience, in part because of his strong and oft-stated belief in global warming. The newspaper will be switching to a team that includes Mike Fairbourne — whose global warming skepticism was amply chronicled by the Strib last May.

I'm willing to bet Fairbourne will write less about his views than Douglas did.

Update: Here's WCCO's story.

Update II: One obvious thing I should've mentioned: at a time when the Strib needs all the cash it can get, it saves whatever it was paying Douglas, since the 'CCO crew will work for free. By the way, he'd been doing the back-page gig for 16 years.

I'm also reminded Douglas was the flash point of an epic legal battle between the Strib and its newsroom union. In a case that went all the way to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the union beat back management's attempts to have Douglas write stories for the paper's A and B sections. The initiative violated labor contract rules limiting use of freelancers. There might be a bit of schadenfreude in the Strib's newsroom today.

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Comments (15)

Well. One less reason to read the Star Tribune.

Paul Douglas was one in a million, or better. Sure, not every one of his columns hit the mark for wonderful -- nobody can do that consistently day after day. But never was there a more upbeat, optimistic and educational weather guy. While I'll admit there might be a more positive columnist on some other topic, it's a small chance as well.

Reading Paul's column was a breath of fresh air almost every day, and the one column I would always read in the paper, even if I had no time to read anything else.

I suppose some people don't like him -- and I further suppose those people are generally sour, dyspeptic grouches with whom I'd not want to associate anyway. There's enough unpleasant in the world; I'm glad Paul was generally able to find something something positive to say.

His views on global warming are mild. He put off expressing anything publicly about it for years and years, and then tried to be even handed when he did. If his remarks are at all colored on the subject, it's probably out of genuine fear things may be worse than we think based in scientific fact. Despite Paul's folksy delivery, he's probably one of the best educated and most qualified media meteorologists. Most of them are little more than talking heads, or have forgotten most of what they learned in college about atmospheric science. Paul's the kind of guy who keeps learning and expanding his knowledge and horizons.

Yes, I'm a Paul Douglas partisan, I guess. I watched KARE 11 news when he was there, because he was there. But I've never met the guy, though I'd be proud to call him a friend if he were.

Foo on the Star Tribune.

"oft-stated belief in global warming"

Or, you might say, his acceptance of scientific consensus on the subject. One tactic of the deniers is to make everyone defensive on the subject and another is to pretend science is a matter of belief.

I, too, must take issue with the use of the phrase "his strong and oft-stated belief in global warming."

I trust that Mr. Brauer is using this language to make the point that WCCO's management and viewers may not have the same regard for climate data as Mr. Douglas.

If true, the Strib's new weather partnership has already managed to lower the newspaper's credibility.

Perhaps the Strib and WCCO can also find a travel writer to share - one who has less of a "strong and oft-stated belief in the spherical shape of the earth." Flat-earth geography may be a hit with some of their readers/viewers.

Losing Douglas is their loss.

Ummm...if this is some form of new "partnership," I seem to recall that CJ is on Fox 9?

Thanks for the news on the Strib weather page. Is there any website where we can continue to get Paul Douglas's weather info? I really miss his stuff, and his outlets seem to keep disappearing.

Global warming skeptics!

How do 6.5 billion (and climbing) people have NO effect on the climate?

Fairborne is on the B team. I trust I won't be reading his nonsense in the Strib every morning....

And what is happening over at WCCO Radio? Now they are the Buick Studio. So they're selling "naming rights" now?

Dave:

Paul Douglas has several irons in the fire, it seems. You can find two of his new companies, Weather Nation and Singular Logic, at http://www.weathernation.net/weathernation_static/ and http://www.singularlogic.com/.

He also seems to be involved with La Crosse Technology's "The Weather Club" and "Weather Direct" products: http://www.theweatherclub.com/ and http://www.weatherdirect.com/

There's an article right here on MinnPost by Roxane Battle about some of this: http://tinyurl.com/5udsuo
(original URL http://www.minnpost.com/roxanebattle/2008/07/03/2452/former_ccoer_paul_d...)

Paul Douglas was an interesting read in the Star-Tribune which made you want to check out what he had to say regardless of whether you knew the weather already. WCCO's Chris Shaffer's first report could have been copied right off the National Weather Service's current bulletin.

Paul was a contrarian. Many of us break the ice by talking about the weather and then get "down to business". But Paul, who was supposed to talk about the weather,would first deliver some newsy/folksy information. Then, almost like an after thought, he would give us the weather forecast. I'll miss him. Maybe MinnPost can pick up Paul?

I was never of fan of Paul Douglas. Although he moderated his image when he went to 'CCO, I tried but could never get the images of his dorky KARE-11 days out of my head.

If it wants to save money, "CCO should get rid of Don Shelby and his big contract. At one time he was a serious journalist, but now he's just a gasbag with pretensions of being Dave Moore, which he never will be. I can't believe he draws an audience. At the least, they could get rid of his ridiculous three-piece suits.

What in the hell is "lifestyle weather"?

I have been a fan of Paul Douglas for many years, and once again, he has taken the brunt of the media's grasp at 'saving a buck or 2'. Is there any place/website we can continue to read Paul' column and get ACCURATE weather on a personal level and an occasional line of humor?

I have to say I never appreciated Paul Douglas when we had him. Now I miss him greatly, like an old pair of shoes.

Looking back, I think I subconsciously liked him, even from the beginning because I watched KARE-11 when he was there and WCCO-4 when he was there. Not only was he credible and educational, he had a true (read "real") personality and sense of humor. I also read his Strib column religiously.

He's really been handed the shaft lately by the local media. However, I don't worry about him personally, as he is independently wealthy (or so I understand)