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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Thursdays With Mike

If it's Thursday, you've learned absolutely nothing from Mike Miner, the Chicago Reader's most outspoken piece of furniture. Today finds Miner getting to the bottom--the very, absolute, granular bottom--of a series of memos, e-mails, and meetings that resulted in two Chicago Reporter staffers getting canned. "News!" you say. "See, Mike Miner can report news, contrary to your over-the-top and mean-spirited indictment of last month. For shame!"

Well, of a sort. Clever cat that he is, Miner--who surely knows that the best place to keep a secret is in the last sentence of his column--waits til the end to let us know that he didn't learn that Chicago Reporter contributing editor Mick Dumke and associate editor Brian Rogal had been let go until two months after the fact. (Keep that ear to the ground, Mike!)

No matter. As long as no one else knows it, it's still news. But instead of explaining why Dumke and Rogan were fired, and what if anything it has to do with the future of a heritage-rich and cash-poor nonprofit magazine, Miner treats us to a bewildering and debilitating blow-by-blow of staff meetings and memos--"Between the first and second rounds of one-on-ones, the staff received the e-mail in which [editor Alysia] Tate conceded that the working environment had become intolerable." Wait, which round of one-on-ones? I'm on the edge of my seat, here!

Of course, all those HR details can get a little heavy, so Miner rounds out the column with a deliciously witty little "news bite," which I reproduce here in its entirety to avoid stepping on the joke:

News Bite The way a magazine* shops for new blood says a lot about how it idealizes itself. Crain's Chicago Business just promoted managing editor Joseph Cahill to editor, and now it's looking to fill his old job. It wants applicants to know its stories "are known for sophisticated analysis, strong point of view, sharp writing and a forward spin that tells readers what to expect, not just what happened yesterday." The next managing editor should "know how to balance hard-hitting news coverage with the occasional offspeed pitch. . . . A competitive nature wrapped in a congenial personality seals the deal."
Ha! You're right, Mike. The way a magazine shops for new blood does say a lot about how it idealizes itself. You should quote help-wanted ads more often--they're a gold mine!

*Crain's Chicgao Business was a weekly newspaper last I checked. Which was a long, long time ago.