Stranger editorial director Dan Savage e-mailed me last week to ask if I might be interested in assuming the paper's public-editor duties for a short time. I declined. My workload as Assistant Editorial Page Editor of the Seattle Times is a considerable one. (I'm also blogging these days; my blog is called Daily Democracy, and you can read it at http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/dailydemocracy.) But even setting time constraints aside, The Stranger has been unfair to my family over the years. While I personally hold no grudge, I didn't think carving out time to "aid and abet" a publication that has attacked members of my family and our loyal employees would be good for morale at the Seattle Times or any of our seven affiliate newspapers. (An aside: Have you ever met Mike Fancher, Mr. Savage? He's a good, talented, conscientious newspaperman.)
Moments after I responded to Mr. Savage's original e-mail, this arrived in my inbox:
but ryan nobuddy will beleive its you writing the columm. that means you can say ANYTHING YOU WANT about your coworkers and frank blethan and nobuddy isactually gonna beleeve you wrote it. doesnt that sound like fun? bseids, even if you dont do it we are just going to write it ourselfs and slap your name on it anyway. so you might as well just write it.
My family is not partial to threats—not from a weak competitor (I'm talking to you, Oglesby), not from the death tax, and certainly not from a subliterate pseudo-journalist. Nevertheless, Savage's threat to "write it ourselfs and slap [my] name on it" prompted me to reconsider. I am the Assistant Editorial Page Editor of the Seattle Times, after all. I have not just my own reputation to consider, but the reputation of a Pulitzer Prize—winning newspaper to protect. And while very few people in this community—and certainly no real journalists—take The Stranger seriously, I worried that my professional reputation might be damaged should my byline appear on something written and edited by Mr. Savage or his staff. My God, what if someone actually thought I wrote it?
So here I am—The Stranger's interim public editor and the victim of a little friendly professional blackmail. Instead of taking this opportunity to insult my coworkers, which was Mr. Savage's suggestion, I'm going to take this opportunity to speak directly to Stranger readers:
STOP READING THE STRANGER.
Isn't it time you started to read a real newspaper? A daily newspaper? Perhaps a newspaper like the Seattle Times, a paper published by a locally owned, private and independent news and information company. You know what, Stranger readers? Those tattoos are outdated and it's time to lose the "interesting" sideburns. It's time to grow up and get serious about your city, your state, your nation, and your responsibilities as citizens. This city needs young people who are informed and engaged—and you're not going to become informed or engaged reading this "newspaper." Daily papers are for grown-ups and you look like grown-ups from here.
More next week.