Monday, May 07, 2007

James Lileks - an open letter to the Star Tribune

An open letter to the Star-Tribune re, Lileks. As if they'll care but ... it can't hurt and it might do some good.

I'm not a Star-Tribune subscriber. Nor am I 'in the business' - I'm only this guy, a civilian, who doesn't know your business at all.

Feel free to cheerfully discard everything I have to say, by all means.

I think you are doing your organization a massive dis-service by assigning James Lileks to news stories and killing his column.

The man can write, he's got a good ear for a catch phrase and he's a keen observer of the passing scene.

What y'all should be doing - hey look, unasked for advice from the masses - is promoting his 'Bleat' column on your web page, pushing the Diner podcast and letting him cheerfully romp hither and yon as muse takes him. It may not return much on the bottom line (as what you've got him doing next week will) but you could see a massive reward in increased viewers on your site (more advertising revenue), attention from the rest of the world for making an interesting choice for a 'newspaper'.

Granted, doing this isn't strictly speaking what a newspaper is all about. But consider the industry's decreasing subscriber base and dismal financial future. It could be that business as usual got you (as an industry) where you are now and doing more of the same is digging a hole.

You might strike oil that way but the smart money is all you'll end up doing is deeper in the hole.
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