Every Friday, we excerpt some of the most insightful, articulate, interesting, and entertaining comments we receive each week. Think we’ve missed something? Well…comment! (Some comments shown here have been edited.)
Lou and Me
Ex-Chicago Tribune scribe Don Terry’s essay on his departure from the newspaper business—and how the Lou Grant television show helps him cope—prompted a mix of sympathy, criticism, and career advice.
“Don: I took a buyout, so I jumped and didn’t get pushed. I did a blog and it didn’t feel like either reporting or writing. Mostly I hated it. I’m writing a book and the loneliness is beyond description. Much to be grateful for, yes. But, they also tell me this grief thing takes two years. If that’s true I have 4 months left. Oy. The one mantra that works, for me, is that what I miss, every day, no longer exists. With the New York Times, that’s a physical as well as a “spiritual” fact. I miss 43rd street. I wish I’d thought of watching “Lou Grant” under the covers. A reminder that we had “it,” however you define “it” at the best and brightest time. All best, Jane”
“It’s nice to see my feelings in print, attributed to someone else. It belies the silent accusations that bitterness spurs my criticisms of the newspaper that laid me off 10 months ago. I was in the second wave, which got 15 people, only three of whom were under 50. The managing editor, who made the picks, prefers younger people for more than the obvious reasons. Since I was downsized/right-sized/laid off/axed/fired/booted, he has hired two new college grads and four interns. I can’t help but see my newspaper in one description - “dumb in the content they put in the paper, dumb in trying to appeal to the wrong audience, dumb in the way they market themselves.” I’m sad for the demise of what was a good, solid paper, and also sad for myself, that someone could take my career, my passion away from me just because he liked younger, more impressionable people. I try to read the paper but too often there’s too little in it. Now that I no longer work there, people feel free to tell how irrelevant they find it to their lives. That’s how it goes, I guess. But it’s not bad to be lumped in with Lou Grant et al.”
“Don, this is like something out of The Onion. Come on, Lou Grant was a TV show. It’s like a World War II vet taking solace in John Wayne movies. Lou’s world never existed. It was made up, just the like the sad story you’re now buying into about your career/life. It’s all in your head. Forget Lou Grant, and create a new, positive story about your life. It will work. You’ll feel better. I promise. By the way, you’re a really good writer.”
“Don, thank goodness you wrote this essay — how else would you get the unsolicited career advice I’m sure you’ve been dreaming of?
“Folks, whether you like how he’s spent the past year or not isn’t the issue. This is a thoughtful piece of writing; bittersweet, creative, well-crafted. The sort of thing I wish I found in newspapers on a regular basis, but don’t anymore. I’m glad Don found an outlet for such work elsewhere.”
—Emily Achenbaum Harris
”SUPPORT THE JOURNALIST”
Megan Garber wrote about “Radiohead journalist” Paige Williams’ self-funded piece, “Finding Dolly Freed,” and Williams’s request that readers donate what they can so that she recoup the cost of producing the piece. So how well does this model work?
“I thought this was an interesting experiment. I especially liked the comparison to Radiohead (the greatest band of the last 20 years - not an opinion - it’s a fact!).
“I do think the retrospective model has its merits. In the end, just like Spot.Us - I don’t think it’s a silver bullet or THE solution.
“While Spot.Us has raised as much as 10k before (and tomorrow we are going to put up our third 10k ambitious sized pitch) - the average pitch, as you note, is several hundred dollars (between 5-7). That can be decent money for some - and chump change for others. All depends on your point of view.
“But since it’s arguable - I don’t think retrospective donations (or prospective) can sustain an entire individual’s career.
“But just as Radiohead gets kudos - so does Paige. It takes a LONG time to get 1,000 true fans - but if she can do it - she will have something to stand on. Or so says Kevin Kelly (part of the inspiration for Spot.Us is his theory of 1,000 true fans: http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/03/1000_true_fans.php ).