New Editorial Page Editor Cheryl L. Reed has been given marching orders from publisher John Cruickshank and head editor Michael Cooke to re-brand the editorial and opinion section of the Chicago Sun Times with an eye toward the future. Specifically she has been told not to be too conservative. (h/t Republic of Biloxi)
"Don't be conservative," Cruickshank urged me. "We don't want you to hold back."
One could take this statement in one of two ways. On the one hand you might assume that Cruickshank is telling Reed to think outside the box and come up with some really innovative ideas that might just involve a bit of risk.
On the other hand you could approach this challenge from the perspective of just about everyone else in the newspaper industry and take Cruickshank's words literally.
Cheyrl Reed, displaying the sort of group think mentality that is running the New York Times into the ground has decided to take door number 2. She has announced plans to take the road most traveled, stay inside the box and walk safely in the accepting footsteps of her MSM peers with the completely unoriginal move to take the paper as far left as she can take it.
If you've been an avid reader of these pages, then you'll know you're reading history in the making. We are returning to our liberal, working-class roots, a position that pits us squarely opposite the Chicago Tribune -- that Republican, George Bush-touting paper over on moneyed Michigan Avenue. We're rethinking our stance on several issues, including the most pressing issue facing Americans today: Bush's war in Iraq. (emphasis mine)
Wow. That was incredible. It is a rare opportunity to see someone manage to fit Bush Derangement Syndrome, class warfare, hypocrisy, expressed bias, a sense of self importance and last, but not least, a stunningly narrow minded concept of the most important issue facing Americans today into such a small space. Although the announcement itself is nothing novel or groundbreaking from the perspective of the American left we get the message loud and clear. Cheryl Reed is letting us know that her bona fides as a big league player in the MSM are authentic.
To understand how hypocritical Reed's statement is we need only step back in time to when the Sun Times building sat directly across the street from Tribune Towers, technically on Wabash but in reality on the same "moneyed" Michigan Avenue as the Chicago Tribune until the paper's lease ran out. The year was 2004, the very same year that The Sun Times was censured for misrepresenting its circulation numbers. Reed should be able to do better than that as a former investigative reporter.
Conservatives can breath a sight of relief however in the revelation that the Sun Times will be keeping on one conservative, former editor Steve Huntley.
We'll also be saying goodbye to some columnists and adding new ones. We plan to employ columnists who write about real issues that affect our lives in Chicago. And in that vein, we'll be offering the libertarian/conservative views of Steve Huntley, my predecessor, three times a week.
Just how conservative is Huntley? The liberally oriented fawners over at Editor & Publisher offer up a bit of insight.
One new columnist introduced Tuesday was the paper's previous editorial page editor, Stephen Huntley. Huntley identified himself as a conservative, though with "a more liberal or libertarian stance" on social issues such as abortion, gay rights, and embryonic stem cell research. His column will appear three times a week.
Perfect, a true liberals' conservative.
If anything this is good news for media aware publications such as Newsbusters. Although the Sun Times has not resumed reporting their circulation figures we can still keep an eye out for the impact. Not that there is a shortage of liberal bias in the mainstream media but it's nice to know that we won't be scratching our heads trying to figure out Cheryl Reed.
Terry Trippany is the editor at Webloggin.