Last week a column appeared in this space with my byline on it. The piece was amusing, as Stranger columns go. (It was no The Wrap.) But the column was not written by me. And despite what you may have read in this space last week, at no time was I contacted by anyone at The Stranger. Dan Savage never asked if I would be interested in writing the "public editor" column for this paper. I did not give The Stranger permission to use my byline, nor my picture. So you can imagine my surprise last Wednesday when my driver Joni Balter tossed a new issue of The Stranger on my desk.
Seeing as I don't have a choice in the matter, I have decided to accept Dan Savage's offer—the offer he claims to have extended to me—and take over public editor duties for The Stranger, at least for this week. Now if I were really the public editor and could put questions to senior management, as public editors do at other publications, I might ask Tim Keck or Dan Savage why their little newspaper even needs a public editor. Public editors are for papers that want to be held accountable to the community because they actually strive to serve the community. Newspapers that do real reporting, reporting like the Seattle Times' coverage of the floods in Western Washington last week, have public editors. There's not much of that here.
I'm not being fair. This week's Stranger does actually contain some real, live news reporting. Eli Sanders's feature on Barack Obama is the only example of journalism in this week's Stranger. Sanders, as far as I can tell, really did travel to Iowa. He also, apparently, really did listen to Barack Obama speak, he really took notes, and he really interviewed actual Iowans. Every issue of the Seattle Times, which comes out every day, is filled with that kind of reporting. Nevertheless, I'm impressed that The Stranger could pull this off, Iowa being hard to walk to from Capitol Hill and all.
David Postman reminds me that Sanders was once an intern at the Seattle Times. It appears that we trained him well. Perhaps we should look into offering intern slots to Mr. Savage, Josh Feit, Christopher Frizzelle, and the rest of the Stranger gang. (Note to self: First tighten up employee-theft, porn-download, and drug-use policies.)
As for the rest of this week's Stranger, readers in search of the juvenile, the asinine, and the frivolous will not be disappointed. From its news "department" to the arts critics to the columnists, The Stranger's shtick, unlike the Stranger's staff, never seems to grow old. Indeed, I must admit I enjoyed reading the Stranger when I was a teenager. But then I grew up and outgrew the Stranger and its antics. Here's hoping the editors of this paper do the same one day.