The Barricades Fall – A Little

The Twin Cities’ left is declaring a Code Red; Glen Taylor is buying the Strib

The Minnesota sports and business tycoon and former GOP state senator has picked up the shrivelling Gray Nag of Minnesota media properties – and has vowed to make some changes.


Bear in mind, Taylor came from the old-school Minnesota GOP; relatively moderate, accustomed to working with the then-slightly-less-extreme DFL in a way that’s as obsolete as the personal computers from the 1980s, when that arrangement still held sway. 

But he’s talking changes; the MinnPost‘s Britt Robson (from the first installment of a two-part interview) talked with Taylor about his planned changes:

MP: The Star Tribune is regarded as a liberal newspaper, rightly or wrongly, and probably less so now than ten years ago. Will that change under you in any way shape or form?

GT: I think the answer is yes. But I think the answer is yes whether I buy it or don’t buy it. Everything changes, and some people are going to say, “Well it is, because you bought it, that it changed.”

I would say back to them, “No. You are going to have new hires. You are going to have new people. There are going to be changes in seniority. You have got to be responsible to your readership.” And I think it has already been changing, and I have been a longtime reader of the paper.

Will it change because of the ownership of Glen Taylor? Yeah. To say it won’t wouldn’t be accurate. But it isn’t like Glen Taylor is going to come in there on day one and say, “I’m going to fire people” and do all sorts of things. I am going to say — and I have already told them this — that first of all it has got to be fair and it has got to be accurate.

On the one hand, that – especially if manifested in the form of “reporting news that impacts the DFL with the same zeal as they do it to the GOP” – would be a huge start. 

On the other, I think Taylor is too sanguine about the evolutionary process in journalism.  The old, DFL-upsucking liberals like Nick Coleman are slowly fading away (and Lori Sturdevant has got to be eyeing that condo in Tampa, right?), but even they got their start at a time when American journalism paid more than feeble lip service to the ideals of impartiality and balance.

The Journalism academy today is far less idealistic than it was forty years ago.  New J-School grads are far more likely to start out as advocates from the word “go” than their elders, who oozed into the role over decades in a “progressive”-dominated state. 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes:  So what does the Strib  really need?

  1. An Editorial Staff that actually puts accuracy and completeness ahead of politics.  Today – when they’ll sit on video of Mark Dayton giving an embarassing speech, but race to press with even the most foetid allegations about Republicans – they do not.  This editorial staff needs to crack the whip on, if not “objectivity” (which I believe has always been a myth in the major media) at least detachment, balance and development of sources outside the current crop’s clubby Rolodex full of left-leaning contacts. 
  2. Accountability:  For the better part of a decade, the person filling the role of the ombudsman (“reader representative”) at the Strib has served entirely as the editorial board’s spinmeister/spinmistress.  Ombuds like Sue Perry were the journalistic equivalents of Baghdad Bob, asking who you trusted – your lying eyes, or the Strib’s spin on the mountain of evidence of the paper’s bias.   The Strib needs an ombud that revels in mixing it up with the paper’s status quo. 
  3. A Columnist’s Row With Real Diversity:  Liberals have spent the past half-decade or so whining about the hiring of Katherine Kersten.  The complaints took two forms; “why hire a conservative, the paper is already balanced/conservative”, and “she doesn’t know the journo’s secret handshake!”.  The first line of complaints was straight from Alice in Wonderland.  The second wasn’t so much delusional as, I think, a tacit admission that conservatives were right; the journos wanted someone filling the “house conservative” role who knew the secret journo handshake and would work for “the team” when in doubt.  Which is not to impugn Doug Tice, Kersten’s designated replacement, in any way – he’s a solid reporter, right of center by Strib standards, and a journo of great integrity, but hardly an iconoclast.   The Strib needs an iconoclast, someone who will hold the ancient, biased institution of the paper’s feet in the fire. 

What else will it take?

10 thoughts on “The Barricades Fall – A Little

  1. No doubt there will be mass exodus of their progressive writing talent, out of principle of course, if the paper dares to go against their strongly held editorial and political beliefs.

  2. I wouldn’t take the paper when they offered it to me for free. I still won’t.

  3. I recently had business in Iowa. Stopped at a store in…..was it Decorah? And the Star-Tribune was for sale there. You see it at convenience stores in Minnesota hundreds of miles from the Twin Cities.
    A smart businessman (like Taylor) may be thinking “we offer our product over a very vast geographic area. Maybe we should tone down the hatred and contempt we display for people who don’t think exactly like Philyss Kahn does”.

    I don’t want to see our daily newspapers become so neutred that they resemble some local newscasts, but to insult and ridicule about 40% of your potential customers seems like a bad business practice. Just put some balance in.

  4. If there was any challenge of DFL conventional wisdom in the Strib, I’d re-subscribe. For example – GovJimBeam has gotten away a few times (or more) acknowledging that he doesn’t read or understand the legislation/agreements he binds the state to (Vikings seat licenses, E-Pulltab Revenue Projection, MnSure Program Viability). Just once it would be nice if a reporter noted either in an article or as a question in a press conference, Dayton’s “Chance the Gardener” like relationship with the ship of our state.
    And rather than reporting “Republicans claim” something about an issue, how about taking the time to understand the objection and not using words like “claim” or “charge”, but instead note the ‘con’ as well as the ‘pro’ of some DFL position.
    PS: Glen – If you are reading this – Start charging the DFL “Full Card Rate” for Lori Sturdevant’s column and the Editorial Page. You’ll make back that $100 Mil quick.

  5. Given my experience with the MinnPost, they’re mostly upset because A) They can’t moderate printed comments and B) it’s impossible to delete a printed comment if they learn it’s highly upsetting to leftist readers after the fact.

  6. Mitch:

    I think the biggest thing they have to do is change their mind set. The day that Michelle Bachmann got endorsed for Congress the first time was the same day that Keith Ellinson was endorsed for the first time.

    They mad a point in their seperate articles that Keith Ellinson was mainstream and moderate while Michelle Bachmann was a radical conservative.

    So if I believe in abortion, that you can’t drill for oil in Alaska (very big issue in 2006), that you can’t carry a handgun (even with a proper permit), and the rich aren’t paying enough in taxes you’re mainstream and a moderate.

    Yet if you believe that life begins at conception, we should drill for oil everywhere, that you can carry a handgun and shouldn’t be restricted on the permit, and that too much is being paid in taxes you’re out of the mainstream.

    That right there explains why I stop subscribing to the Star Tribune years ago. If Glen does some good changes I might go back.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  7. Quite frankly, I would like to see Glen Taylor go through that place like a wildfire, getting rid of morally deficient idiots like Baird Helgeson, Jon Tevlin, Gail Rosenblum, Scott Gillespie, Jill Burcum, John Rash, Denise Johnson to start. Lori Sturdevant is a given. I’m sure that I’m missing people.

  8. One of the reasons there is a disconnect between rank and file conservatives and the GOP establishment is that there are so few mainstream print outlets for conservative opinion makers. Outfits like the US Chamber of Commerce have far too much influence on Washington Republicans, while conservative newspapers have too little.

  9. Might be good to sit all the journalists in a room and (per Walter’s comment) simply note that neither Keith Ellison nor Michelle Bachmann is an “Extremist”. There are more accurate labels that fit them both. Ellison is a pro-abortion socialist, Bachmann is an anti-abortion capitalist.

    One would think that wordsmiths, of all people, would get this, but apparently not.

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