Does anyone want to be the new Editorial Page Editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch?

June 19, 2007 | By | 2 Replies More

Are they looking for someone with a conscience who will lead a team that will speak with passion and conscience?  Are they looking for someone who bases his or her writing on deep principles, letting the chips fall where they may?  

Keep in mind that this is the modern version of the Post-Dispatch (see here and here and here and here), a paper that is now looking for someone “at ease with regional business and political leaders.” 

Here is the actual text of the job posting by the owner of the Post-Dispatch, Lee Enterprises:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch seeks a dynamic, talented, and seasoned journalist to lead our editorial page and a staff of 8. The editorial page editor must be able to synthesize complex information on a variety of subjects quickly and produce editorials scrupulously vetted for accuracy, context and tone. This candidate must have a proven track record of producing exceptional journalism in print and online. The editorial page editor reports directly to the publisher.

The successful candidate will have a demonstrated ability to listen with an open mind to all sides of an issue, be able to work collaboratively to build consensus and to resolve conflict in a fair and even-handed fashion. The ideal candidate will be someone with a keen interest in public policy, a passion for advocacy and social justice and a thorough understanding of the mechanics of government and business. The candidate we seek will be a poised public speaker, at ease interacting with regional business and political leaders and the community at large, and unflappable under pressure. You must have at least six years of supervisory experience at a daily newspaper and at least eight years of experience in editorial or commentary writing, as well as extensive experience as a reporter/editor.

To apply, please submit your resume along with a letter explaining your philosophy of journalism, your vision for an editorial page at a major metropolitan daily and why you’d be a strong candidate as well as work samples (Work samples can include news, feature or editorial sections you have overseen and editorials or commentary you have written) to [The St. Louis Post-Dispatch].

Compare the tone of this job posting to the official Platform of the Post-Dispatch, written by Joseph Pulitzer in 1907:

I know that my retirement will make no difference in its cardinal principles, that it will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.

Stir into this mix the following information from the June 2007 edition of the St. Louis Journalism Review: On April 30, 2007, The owners of the Post-Dispatch announced that they had brought on an “advisory board” of 67 advisors, mostly white males, including numerous prominent business and political leaders.   A former Reader’s Advocate of the Post-Dispatch described them as “a bunch of heavy hitters, each with their own agenda.”  Those heavy hitters include the Mayor of St. Louis.  Hey, maybe the Mayor will recommend that the new Editorial Page Editor will publish a story critical of his own policies!  Maybe the Mayor will heed Mr. Pulitzer’s Platform and strive to become “independent” of his own interests!

For those considering this Editor position, I’d recommend that you think about the new Advisory Board as follows:  you’ll never be alone.  You’ll always have 67 powerful business and government leaders happy to help you write those passionate editorials about social justice. 

That’s not actually the view of former Editorial Page Editor Edward Higgins, who the SJR quotes: “With this board, it’s hard to imagine the editorial page being willing to take unpopular stands or plunge into controversial issues.” Other employees interviewed by the SJR see this new Advisory Board as entirely consistent with the PD’s “soft news focus, its mushy front-page stories as part of a business strategy.” 

So, again, does anyone want that new job as the new Editorial Page Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

 —

Now that I’m finished ranting, I need to mention that I received a tip about this new job listing from a friend who is a journalist.  

He/she asked me whether any of us “would add, omit or change anything in the job announcement to get what you would like to see in daily (msm) opinion journalism in St. Louis? If so, how would you rewrite the ad?”  Does anyone want to tweak the ad?” 

Your ideas will be taken seriously by journalists who will be monitoring this post.

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Category: Communication, Media, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (2)

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  1. Card bard says:

    Yeah.

    Mid-career journalist with no other prospects wanted for cushy job taking orders from civic leaders. Must know how to speak only when spoken to, how to avert direct stares, and how to kiss the ring occasionally. Must be willing to have a third career lined up for when we lay you off in a few years and chuck the editorial page entirely in favor of something about the Cardinals – damn near anything.

    Also must be willing to take strong stances on issues and have nobody listen. Seriously.

  2. Bill H says:

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch seeks an innovative thinker who can make editiorials relevant again. The editorial page editor must be able to find issues important enough and solutions smart enough to matter to our dwindling readership. And if you can somehow go beyond that and bring new readers to the fold, you can skip the rest of this job posting and start picking out your office furniture.

    This candidate must have an independent income or live like a monk so he or she can ignore the power structure at this newspaper and do the right thing – even if doing it shortens his tenure here. The editorial page editor reports directly to the publisher. That means you need to be confident enough and eloquent enough to become a strong advocate for a brand of journalism that may seem foreign to the publisher and conflict with all he has learned from the chief financial officer.

    The successful candidate will have a demonstrated ability to cut through bullshit and seek out common sense, an uncommon commodity around here.

    The ideal candidate will disregard all those who say newspapers are out of date and no longer important. The candidate we seek needn't be a poised public speaker, but – no matter how awkward the speech – it should be delivered clearly and with great force.

    You must have demonstrated by your prior work that you value clear thinking and clear writing. You must show that you have been compassionate with those who are afflicted – especially if they were your employees.

    To apply, please submit your resume along with letters from those who complained that you were too eager to raise hell in print.

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