June 03, 2014

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How bad this was for the health of the paper is hard to quantify. Arden and his stable of writers were some of the last men standing in meticulous old-school Chicago journalism. After firing Arden, Alison continued to print stories that were in his queue, but once those ran out there was noticeably less investigative journalism and more crap about fashion. The paper hobbled around without a managing editor for I can”€™t remember how long; meanwhile, we muffed adapting to digital, a bit like the NYT did, but without the larger paper’s fiscal buffers. Shockingly, one of True’s cronies eventually replaced Arden, while the paper continued to slide toward the red. It was a tough time for all newspapers, but even some small ones made it. It’s faintly possible the ones that stayed afloat were those whose major decisions weren”€™t based on interpersonal fealty.

A couple of owners later, the paper is now the property of a Chicago daily, the tabloid Sun-Times. Maybe you can”€™t appreciate how hilarious this is if you didn”€™t hear the way we superior Reader types used to talk smack about the philistinism of the Sun-Times crew back when we were solvent, but … nah, you can imagine.

The quality is now as grimly funny. Where once a proud crew of proofreaders enforced a no-tolerance policy for errors, all they can afford on the Sun-Times“€™ dime are unpaid interns, and they get what they pay for. Former readers tell me they”€™ve sadly given up on the paper.

As for True, she eventually got sacked, after watching not only the Reader but the first company that bought it out go under as well. I heard a rumor that she was encouraged to sue for wrongful termination”€”and that she had the nerve to consider it.

The only thing wrongful about True’s termination was that it happened ten years too late. Maybe firing Abramson after three is the NYT brass’s way of telling us they don”€™t want to be forced to deal with Carlos Slim anymore (or become the property of the Daily Mail). The modern newspaper can”€™t afford to be a sorority house. You may say the Times is reaping the PC they sowed, but they made this decision knowing the probable fallout. For all your flaws, good show, Gray Lady.


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