Let’s see. Your circulation is crashing. The value of your paper has plummeted. Everyone in the industry recognizes that the the future is online, and most realize that the byline has become the brand and that writers with followings will be a crucial part of the rescue of the bottom line.
So what does the Minneapolis Star Tribune do?
I kid you not: They kill Lileks’ column and send him to report news. Visit www.lileks.com for details.
Imagine The New Yorker asking E.B. White to manage the restaurant listings. Envision the Los Angeles Times dropping Jim Murray from Sports and sending him to cover county governemnt. Think about the San Francisco Chronicle assigning Herb Caen to the police blotter. It is that level stupid. (BTW: The Chron is still using Herb’s stuff –it is the byline business.)
I expect that Lileks will gather in offers by the boatload, but off the top of my head, here are 10 places I expect to recruit him within days if the Strib doesn’t get shocked by canceled subscriptions into realizing what a New Coke order of blunder it has made:
1. The Pioneer Press says: “Ahah! An opening!”
2. Jim Brady ar WashingtonPost.com says “Ahah, the center-right voice I have been looking for, and funny to boot!”
3. Politico.com says “Ahah, the established humorist who knows politics that we’ve been looking for to signal the center-right we really are going to be comprehensive.”
4. Minnesota Public Radio says “Ahah! Camouflage!”
5. The Wall Street Journal online says “Ahah –extend the brand and grab his legion of readers for WSJ.com.”
6. Time.com says: “Ahah! A blogger center-righters will read, as will lefties!”
7. Any English newspaper looking for an American to draw the colonials in says “Ahah. Here’s an American who isn’t dull!”
8. The Los Angeles Times says “Ahah! It’s like the Dodgers or the Angels signing a free agent!”
9. Any online book club seeking a way to draw the literate reader to their site co-locates a Lileks’ blog on their home page.
10. Any start-up online venture –any at all– that wants instant credibility with the blogosphere.
BTW: To cancel your subscription to the Star Tribune, call 612-673-4000.
UPDATE: See also:
And a fine offering from Gold Plated Witch On Wheels.