Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Baltimore Sun Staff Steps Up; Michael Kinsley Steps Down To Foolishness

When Dennis FitzSimons, the inept CEO of the Tribune Co., visited the Baltimore Sun on Tuesday, nearly 100 employees of the Sun handed him a letter which echoed the concerns of 400 L.A. Times staffers sent to FitzSimons recently.

Both letters protested Tribune plans for further cutbacks at the two newspapers, and the Sun staff letter told FitzSimons curtly, at the end, "We ask that Tribune treat those of us who work here with the respect we deserve and make sure that The Sun has the resources it needs to maintain the quality that has allowed it to thrive. Either that, or sell The Sun to someone who will."

It should be said that Tribune has denigrated the Baltimore paper even worse than it has treated the L.A. Times, closing nearly all its foreign bureaus and repeatedly insulting the staff. To some extent, due to the courage of L.A. Times editor Dean Baquet, the L.A. Times staff has been spared the insults.

The employee letter at the Sun tells FitzSimons how, during negotiations for a new Guild contract at the Sun in 2003, "You spent $3 million of your shareholders' money to launch a blitzkrieg on your employees that included the disruptive presence of so-called 'replacement workers' training in our building, as well as the demeaning comment at the bargaining table that the Pulitzer Prize winning Sun does not have a 'high performance culture.'

Poor FitzSimons. He never says the right thing about anything.

The Sun employee letter notes that the Baltimore paper has had a tradition of excellence dating back to its founding in 1837, and continues:

"We need you and your colleagues in Tribune management to understand that the way to provide a viable product in the information age that is the 21st century is not to cut back on the essential resources of this institution.

"We stand with our colleagues at the Los Angeles Times, both management and workers, in saying to you that you cannot cut your way to prosperity, that sometimes you have to make the tough decisions and fore go short-term returns for long-term gains..."

In another sign of disaffection, Rinker Buck, a writer at the Hartford Courant, wrote an open, 3,000-word article in that newspaper, asking, notably, "How much cash are we shipping on a monthly and yearly basis, to Chicago?"

So the rebellion at the former Times-Mirror papers against stupidity, economic short sightedness and unsavory business practices, continues to grow. FitzSimons, like Chicago cuisine, is a low quality product.

--

In this week's Time magazine, Michael Kinsley, the goofy writer who was wisely ousted as L.A. Times Opinion editor, weighs in with an unusually foolish essay asking, "Do Newspapers Have A Future?"

Only, apparently, according to this numb skull, if they become more like the extremist left wing English newspaper, The Guardian, which, just coincidentally of course, Kinsley now has sunk to writing for.

One of the remarkable things about Kinsley's silly article, is his assertion that there is no point in the L.A. Times maintaining its network of foreign bureaus or a big Washington bureau. This at a time when the War on Terror has made foreign and national news of greater than ever concern among Times readers. He also takes issue with the defiance to Tribune voiced by Baquet.

Kinsley concludes his essay with this brazen assertion: "Newspapers on paper are on the way out. Whether newspaper companies are on the way out too depends. Some of them are going to find the answers. And some are going to fritter away the years quarreling about staff cuts."

Kinsley is sleeping in the same bed with FitzSimons. Both have lost the way to the future, and both are not only fools, but damn fools.

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