Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An unfortunate loss

I've ruminated before on how a relationship between bloggers can feel like a friendship in that you get to know someone on at least some level as they write day after day.  Given the somewhat tenuous nature of "real" friendships, it's not a surprise to me at all that the virtual world can seem just as vivid; I may not be cracking a beer with Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune, but I do have a look into his mind several times a day.

I understand there's an unfortunate asymmetry there.  I read Zorn, but, as far as I know, he doesn't read me; since I'm not a crazy wild stalker guy, I get that we're not really friends in any definition of the word.  But I know more about what he thinks and feels, what things concern him, than I do about the majority of people I would call friends (at some point I should write a post on my "friends," because they are just about the least friend-like people I can imagine, for the folks who never initiate contact to the 20-year-long acquaintance who always makes plans to see me when she's in town and never quite is able to make it happen...but I digress).

When a regular poster leaves for whatever reason, there is a feeling of loss.  I know there are people still saddened at the passing of Tanta at Calculated Risk.  Today, the economics of the newspaper business has caught up with John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun, the copy editor whose ruminations on language and newspapers (and Wikipedia and so on) have offered insight and entertainment and food for thought on the blog You Don't Say.  I will miss him (though he promises to keep blogging).

My first temptation is to take You Don't Say off my blogroll.  After all, why should I want to drive traffic to the site of a newspaper that would lay off my friend?  On the other hand, his work still lives there, so I should probably suggest you go there, partake of his thinking, but not to look at any ads you might find.  However, the click counts will remain, so I remain caught on the horns.  I shall agree to disagree with myself, and allow inertia to leave the link, for now.

There's not much I can offer that's fresh about the implications for the newspaper business, except for this.  Mr. McIntyre has spent 23 years at the Sun, and so, whatever his age, is not in the first blush of youth.  However, he has embraced new technology, the blog, the Twitter feed, the e-mail.  He hasn't been shuffling around metal sorts while his younger colleagues smiled sadly and indulgently as they slipped his work into the computer typesetting system.  And none of that was sufficient to save his position in the cold hard calculus of today's media business.  I'll leave it to the reader to infer what he or she can about anyone's future in this economy.


John said...

By all means let people continue to read the posts at Much of what I have learned in more than 30 years of editing is available, free, at that site. I made it available to anyone who is interested in the craft, and I hope it will continue to be available. And as I learn new things about language and writing and editing, I will be in business at a new location.

Anonymous said...

John, best of luck to you -- I hope you will post your new Web address here, or send it to Andro so it can be posted.

I live in Baltimore and the past 2 years it's been like watching the autopsy of a living newspaper. I am heartsick for you and all the caring diligent folks who, not by their choice, no longer work there, and I'm also sorry for me as a citizen whose civic muscles atrophy pretty quickly without a depandable news source. Finally, I hope every bite of food Sam Zell eats during his remaining years gives him hives, heaves, piles, and 32 toothaches. (But it shouldn't kill him, because that wouldn't be punishment enough.)

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