That’s the Star & Sickle

James Lileks’ column gets canned by the Star Tribune:

As it happens, they’ve killed my column, and assigned me to write straight local news stories….I don’t want to write about the Internet. I want to write on the Internet. I’d rather develop content than report about content developers. It’s that simple, and it’s also a matter of recognizing my failings: I am not Biff Deadline, Ace Reporter. I can do long stories with lots of color, all aslosh with subjective opinions, but writing straight news – clearly, simply, briskly – is a skill I lack, and I take off my hat to those who’ve mastered that discipline.

My column will end a week from this Friday.

The Strib’s reader’s representative can be contacted here. It’s not likely to make any difference, you understand, but at least it will annoy them.

I grew up reading the Star Tribune, mostly by default. The only thing I really remember about it was the way it would make the same wildly errant predictions about the next year’s tax revenues based on tax increases or tax cuts. Every single year… they never figured out that a static revenue model doesn’t work because people adjust their economic activity depending upon the price of things. Nothing like possessing an economic understanding that’s only 200+ years out of date.

I’ve never really been a Lileks fan, but over the last 20 years, he, Sid Hartman and Steve Aschenburner have been the only writers who contributed anything worthy of note there. Readers won’t miss CJ or Kersten, but if there was any literary justice in this world, Nick Coleman wouldn’t just be demoted to metro reporter, he’d be taken outside, stripped, whipped, covered with asphalt and utilized as a human speed bump on Washington Avenue for his countless crimes against Minneapolis newspaper readers.

The Red Star has always been a paper run by clueless individuals stumbling blindly about. I contacted them back in 1991 about writing an electronic game review column, but they were quite confident that no one was interested in reading about games. So I went to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, who immediately decided to publish the column. It ran for years and was nationally syndicated, first by Chronicle Features and then by Universal Press Syndicate. To put this in perspective, you can probably count the number of Star Tribune writers who have ever been syndicated on the fingers of one hand.

Good luck, Mr. Lileks. Here’s hoping you find a different situation more suitable to your talents soon.

Speaking of newspapers, this history of the Quint State Claxon-Ledger is more than a little amusing. And the dedication is certainly fitting.