Lib Reporter Outraged: Minn. Paper Hires Conservative Columnist

Those pesky conservative suburbanites and their market forces! They'll be the ruin of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, bellows Anonymous.

Hugh Hewitt and Ed Morrissey have taken on the unattributed complaints of a self-described Star-Tribune ("Strib") veteran, who laments that his beloved paper is becoming a right-wing shill for, gasp, hiring a token conservative opinion columnist.:

The Rake, a local alternative newspaper here in the Twin Cities, published an interesting cri de coeur from "one Strib veteran" about the direction of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The anonymous attribution wears thin in the first line of the quote:

As one Strib veteran tells the Mole, "The right-wing blog voices that were bashing the paper a couple of years ago, Hugh Hewitt and the rest, have gotten pretty much everything they wanted. The GOP wanted the Minnesota Poll gone, and now it's gone. They wanted to get rid of people like [editorial board members] Jim Boyd and Susan Albright and their editorial policy, and they've succeeded at that. Now there won't be editorials about the war and global warming; they'll write about local issues like zoning conflicts in Coon Rapids instead. They wanted the paper to hire a conservative columnist, and they got that. From here on out, it looks like the Strib becomes the conservative, suburbs-oriented paper, and the Pioneer Press will become the paper of the city underdogs and the blue voters. They may wind up getting pushed more to the left."

There's only one "Strib veteran" who likes to blame all his woes on Hugh Hewitt and the local conservative buh-loggers. I won't name names since he apparently lacks the testicular fortitude to speak for himself, but he used to have a local radio show in which he railed against people like Hugh and others for consistently outarguing him. He started suggesting that some of the buh-loggers were closet homosexuals, including me, which not only showed his homophobia but also his complete lack of journalistic ethics. That didn't shut us up, but it gave us a few good laughs at his expense.

A paranoid liberal journalist who takes anonymous pot-shots at conservatives who want a fair shake in the media? Perish the thought! But the complaints are off the mark. Conservative bloggers are merely representative of a larger center-right consumer base that are eschewing liberally-biased broadsheets.

The newspaper business is an imperiled one, at least in the dead-tree division, with most every major newspaper seeing circulation declines over the past few years. Indeed, the Strib saw a 7.6 percent decline in circulation in the past two years (see NB/BizzyBlog contributor Tom Blumer's item here).

It behooves the industry to worry more about green, not so much blue or red. Far be it, however, for a liberal reporter to understand the concept of a newspaper as a business.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.