Isn’t it NEWS when the daily newspaper fires one of its prominent columnists?

April 19, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently fired one of its prominent columnists, Sylvester Brown.  Why?  Here’s all you’ll find even if you carefully scour the Post-Dispatch:  A one-paragraph “Note” that Sylvester Brown acted unethically and that he deserved to be gone.

But isn’t it a big news story whenever the only daily newspaper serving a major metropolitan area fires one of its columnists for a purported isolated ethics infraction?   Doesn’t it deserve more coverage than a one-paragraph “Note to Readers”?  Isn’t this story news?

What about when the columnist (who wrote three full columns per week) disputes the Post-Dispatch version of the facts?  Isn’t that news?  You won’t read about both sides of this dispute in the Post-Dispatch (though you can read about it here).

What about the fact that Brown often criticized the Mayor of St. Louis coupled with the fact that the Mayor is on the paper’s “Advisory Board?”  Isn’t that news?  Should a newspaper ever have politicians on its “Advisory Board”?  Isn’t that issue big news?

I decided to put out my own “edition” of the St. Louis Daily newspaper.  I called it the St. Louis Post-Disgrace.   Click on it to see the “paper” full screen.”  It contains the headlines that illustrate various aspects of the Sylvester Brown story that the Post-Dispatch failed to cover.   I’ll be waiting and watching to see whether the Post-Dispatch ever advises its readers any of these issues.

sylvester-brown-mockup-b-and-w

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Category: Communication, Community, hypocrisy, Media, Noteworthy, 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 (7)

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  1. Adam says:

    hahaha, nice! harsh, but nice.

  2. Kathi says:

    I'm glad SOMEONE points to this obvious omission.

    Thank you.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    A request: I've heard that the Post-Dispatch has been target marketing to folks it considers conservative. The flyer implies that the Post-Dispatch is a good fit for people with right wing politics. It says something like "We're right for you."

    If anyone in the St. Louis area has received such an advertisement from the Post-Dispatch in the last month and would be willing to allow me to view that advertisement, I would most appreciate it. If you have such an ad, please write to me at erichvieth@gmail.com.

    Thanks.

  4. Mindy Carney says:

    Interesting, Erich. Which pretty much dismisses it as the paper for the city, daily or otherwise. If it is going to openly define itself as a right-wing rag, so be it. I will no longer expect (as if I still did) any sort of "fair and balanced" journalism from said rag. We'll call it the anti-RFT and let it die its slow and uninteresting death all by itself, taking its blogs, which have become the soapbox for the uneducated and bigoted in our fair city, down with it. The Fox news of local print media, no longer good enough for the bottom of our bird cage.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Here's my caveat. I haven't yet seen the flyer, but I've heard from two sources that something like this was sent out. I should also make clear that I want my metropolitan newspaper to have a wide variety of views, including right wing views. I agree with John Stewart Mill: good ideas beat bad ideas. I'm increasingly concerned, though, that the PD is shifting the entire spectrum of viewpoints to the right. Some would say that this is occurring because readers are leaning more to the right. I disagree. I think that people acquiesced in the atrocities of the Bush Administration because the corporate media marched in lockstep with Bush. Where were the photos from the military occupation of Iraq during the Bush years. If America's newspapers had published photos from the Iraq theater starting in 2003, the "war" would have ended in 2003.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    The St. Louis American has now published an editorial describing the Post-Dispatch flyer in some detail. The bottom line is that the PD sees it's financial future in catering to monied conservative readers, a U-Turn from the Joseph Pulitzer platform that is supposedly the basis for the existence of the Post-Dispatch. Here's an excerpt from the editorial recently published by the American:

    The mindset of the hard-pressed Post leadership is best glimpsed in its latest mailer from the Circulation Department that has been appearing in mailboxes in West County and South County ZIP codes. “Our Coverage is Right on the Money (in more ways than one),” screams the headline. A list of six bulleted points includes one boasting of publishing “conservative columnists” and another of providing “conservative, relevant view points.” We get the message: in a lunge for desperately needed circulation revenue, the Post wants to be seen by a targeted demographic group as moving to the conservative right.

    Again, if anyone has a copy of the PD mailer, and they are willing to allow me to inspect and photograph it, please let me know. Thanks.

  6. Tim Hogan says:

    Erich, I live in West County and haven't seen this (yet!). If I do I'll forward it to you. It looks like all the far right wing corporatist neofascist Brown Shirt weblog echochambering yobbo yappers have won, and the PD will die.

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