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Mpls.St.Paul mag kills 'Lambert to the Slaughter'

Mpls.St.Paul magazine has pulled the plug on "Lambert to the Slaughter," Brian Lambert's lacerating media criticism column.

The caveats: Brian is a friend — and my first editor at the old Twin Cities Reader! — as well as a colleague at Daily Glean. He was working the media beat long before I, originally at The Rake and later as a staffer at Mpls.St.Paul. Even though Brian was laid off in January, he kept his online gig.

Despite MSP's call (and the inevitable celebration is some quarters of Twin Cities newsrooms), Lambert says it's a matter of when, not if, "Slaughter" returns.

After I got word yesterday that mspmag.com had nuked Brian's good-bye column, I emailed him for confirmation. He replied:

I don't see any point in a pissing match over something like this. Obviously MSP is within its rights to do whatever it wants, which means paying whomever it wants for whatever content it wants. But the blog lived before MSP and I intend to keep it going ... soon ... somewhere else. I'm just trying to get word out about what's happening and what to expect. The post was as self-explanatory as I could make it, although apparently not innocuous enough.

Lambert? Not innocuous enough?

MSP President Gary Johnson confirms the column was pulled (after appearing briefly) because "this is not the site for personal soap boxes. We've done the same for Andrew Zimmern. Brian's stuff fit into a nice identity, but whatever did run was not classically Brian."

Johnson argues it's not fair to say MSP killed Lambert's column. They were willing to let him do it gratis.

"Essentially I was told in an e-mail that, 'online revenue just doesn’t justify additional expense at this time,'" Lambert writes. "To which I said something — polite — about seeing no point in providing services for free, despite my overheated vanity."

Johnson says financial considerations, not the work product, prompted the move. "Show me anybody's who's on budget this year and I'll show you the biggest liar on the planet," he quips. "I haven't talked to any publisher who's down less than a quarter."

While Johnson says his new toy — Delta's in-flight magazine, Sky — is proving well worth the expense of gaining the rights, "the local market sucks and I feel bad for the poor businesses that have to depend on it. Just look at D'Amico Cucina; we're going to see more media closings, more retail and business closings. I've never seen anything like this."

MSP hasn't made other online changes, but I'm betting you can expect more.

So where is "somewhere else" for "Lambert to the Slaughter?" My bet has always been on him joining his old KTLK colleague Sarah Janecek's site, Politics in Minnesota, where fellow alt-weekly vets Steve Perry and Britt Robson have spiced things up. But Lambert says, "At the moment they're trying to avoid rank bloviating such as I do."

For now, we'll all just have to deal with the cliffhanger.

"I encouraged readers to send me an e-mail if they wanted a heads up when (not if) "Lambert to the Slaughter" resurfaces," Brian says. "That address is: BrianLambertMN@comcast.net."

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Comments (8)

Brian is very enjoyable and informative I'd still like to read another "if I were king" article.

Where am I going to get my Randy the Ombudsman updates?

Bertram, jr. will have to retreat to the bunker in Medina.

I've been agonizing over Mpls-StP's ad rate cards for months now. $1,100 for a 1/12 page B&W ad? My client wants to place an ad but I keep looking at the numbers and they only make sense if Mpls-StP delivered 300 new customers to her and they each came in four times in the next year. If that happened, the ad would pay for itself but for the life of me I can't figure out what you can do with 1/12th of a page in B&W that would grab that much attention.

Maybe if Brian isn't too busy he could coach me on how to write the perfect Mpls-StP Magazine ad?

Brian had a loyal following of like-minded media mavens as well as a regular band of spittle-flecked trolls. Would it have killed MSP, if they didn't care for Brian's farewell posting, to have posted something dignified recognizing Brian's departure and significant contributions to the site? As it is now, Lambert's disappearance from msp.com has been handled with all the charm of late-70s Argentina.

Gary Johnson's absolutely right about the state of the local mag business and it's too bad people like Lambert, who actually have something to say, are the victims of an economy they had nothing to do with destroying. Unfortunately, the state of the business manifests itself in the local press as a race to the bottom as all media, from the Strib on down, cut the very content that makes them worth reading at all. Here's hoping Brian lands somewhere soon, and fast.

Well, at least it will give him more time for his work on American Idol. I understand he was doing really well there.

Spittle flecked? In my own 108 or so rhetorical jousts with him, I just thought of it as keeping him honest. He is a bit of a bloviator.

Good luck Brian!

Sad. His blog was the only thing worth reading on that site, I wish Brian the best. And they informed him via email? Really?

I'd like to read whatever it was they didn't want him posting. "Not the site for personal soap boxes"? Come on, isn't that what blogs are?

Thanks for clearing that up.

I wasn't aware that Brian's blog wasn't supposed to be a "personal soap box." What was it then exactly?

I look forward to his soap box showing up again somewhere else.