I'm not sure exactly how I got this assignment. But you know what they say, stuff rolls downhill. (Just because I'm writing in The Stranger this week, don't expect me to get down in the gutter with that potty talk that Josh Feit thinks is mandated by the First Amendment.) If you've been paying attention, Ryan Blethen, a fine young man who seems to "get" the news business and coincidentally ended up in a top position at the paper his dad owns, wrote this column last week. Ryan pointed out that the week before, someone had written in this space and misappropriated his name for a poor stab at parody.
Why am I the public editor? I'd like to think it's because the writing on my blog has shown I have keen insight into the craft of journalism and perhaps I have something to teach the Stranger crew, who think that swear words and outrageous opinions are a substitute for real, objective reporting. I'm sort of hip, too. I ride a bike—Erica C. Barnett would probably really like me—and despite warnings from Seattle Times editors, I can often be found on Capitol Hill (and by that I mean the gay one and not the one in Olympia).
But more likely, my call from Ryan probably had to do with the fact that a photo of Frank's new Porsche appeared on Slog recently. It turns out the photo was taken by a Stranger intern who was in the journalism class I taught this fall at UW. So does that make it my fault? Apparently. And my penance is to take on the role of public editor for a week.
I wish I had been here earlier. Maybe I could have stopped Josh from writing about his favorite books of the year and all that crud. Maybe I could have convinced Dan Savage to put some clothes on the models for the Stranger's "charity" auction. I couldn't link to anything on Slog for a week while those nasty photos were so prominent! It's just so unnecessary.
As for this week's issue, I'm not sure what as public editor I can really recommend. There's a lot on the closing of the Crocodile Cafe. Is this news? I read on horsesass.org—yikes, talk about potty mouth!—that this is old news and apparently Paul Andrews, a former Times staffer, told his daughter about this LAST WEEK!
There's also a story about being an escort over the Christmas season. Given how much money The Stranger makes from escort ads and the Seattle Times makes from department stores, wouldn't this be a little like the Seattle Times writing a story about shopping downtown?
Do enjoy Paul Constant's story about Christmas decorations. I haven't seen it—and shouldn't the public editor see each story before publication?—but I think it's nice that The Stranger is going this route. The holidays can be fun, and the more Stranger writers can have fun without making fun I'll feel like my work here has not been wasted. Merry Christmas everyone!