It is said that the Strib was being foolish in demoting Mr James Lileks to a beat reporter. And I have no doubt that is true from the standpoint of the pecking order at newspapers. But I'd like to take a step back and take a second look.
Have you ever read Lileks? I happen to love his writing, but 90% of it is about the mundanities of life - fully half of it revolves around going to Target, being at Target, the trip home from Target, and just thinking about Target and Target-like stores. The crazy thing is he manages to make his experience of the Sturgeon part of life seem fun and interesting. The other 10% he weaves in revelations on modern life - politics, architecture, pop art and culture, home improvement - that astound.
Have you read the news part of a newspaper recently? Dull stories written from an uncritical liberal point of view that are leavened with 20% liberal pieties. News that might reflect poorly on any oppressed people (i.e. anyone who isn't a white male, or white males in journalism and academia, the two honorary oppressed while male groups) is routinely suppressed from the paper or omitted from stories.
Just think what the impact of having Lileks write some of these stories. Readership might actually go up, as (non-liberal and liberals alike) people actually began to read the news part of paper again. Spot the Lileks could become a local pastime and even a college drinking game (not that we endorse that sort of thing here at FunMurphys). And at last, news stories wouldn't be written from that insufferable liberal viewpoint and instead of liberal pieties we would get real insight along with all the relevant facts. What a deal!
The blog debate over newspapers isn't about whether they'll die, but when. And the Strib intends to do something about it. They are going to put their best writer on the one topic everybody agrees should be the strength (but isn't) of local newspapers - local news reporting. So what's the reaction from all those people who've been telling newspapers to do exactly that? Outrage.
So I'm going to have to disagree here, this makes perfect sense from the Strib's point of view, and Lileks will have to make up his mind whether he wants to be reality's mole in the belly of the liberal beast, or does he want to sever his ties with an organization that needs him more than he needs them. I'm hoping he choses the mole job, but fully expecting him to sever away.