I’ll still be the managing editor of this 130-year-old media institution, but I’m shelving my weekly column.
After eight years, my writing style has become predictable, my views so dreadfully right-wing that I spent two recent weeks musing that I had become disenchanted with my old button-down buddies in the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives and had decided to give the NDP a try.
TWEET-UP OF THE WEEKTwitter is both a horrible waste of time and a great source of entertainment and news. This exchange is with Star FM morning host Tyler Glen (who is filling in for a month on CKLQ 880's Feedback show) and an unknown group or person posting on behalf of the Strand Theatre project. It started late Sunday night and finished early Monday morning:-- @Tyler_Glen: @StrandTheatreBr in #bdnmb will always be "Drew's wife's project" to me.-- @StrandTheatreBr: @Tyler_Glen Quit being a bully to those working to do good things. My "cost" to #bdnmb taxpayers is less than one BWK ticket.-- @Tyler_Glen Fun stuff. First time I've been attacked by a building before. #idiots. #bdnmb
Those columns were fun to write and received a great response. So that, in part, helped me make my decision to close the Notebook indefinitely. I’m following George Costanza’s life advice to end on a comedic “high note” and “leave them wanting more.”
For the record regarding my political views, I’m now exactly where an editor should be — suspicious of all political parties and distrusting of most politicians.
I am also tired of walking around this city with a target on my back. I’ve wasted enough of my breath in conversations and keystrokes on my computer explaining that yes, I was personally happy to see a change at city hall in the 2010 election.
But no, I had nothing to do with it. Neither did this paper.
You see, there is a growing organized movement out there attempting to take down Mayor Shari Decter Hirst.
Some are higher profile than others in the cabal I have cheekily called The Starbucks Five, for the original membership number and where they usually meet.
They are a ruthless and angry bunch, having never recovered from losing their connection at city hall, former mayor Dave Burgess, who lost to Decter Hirst by a solid 1,464 votes.
They vowed she was going to “be a train wreck” and they have never given her a chance.
At first it was because the bubbly and positive SDH was NDP and proud if it. She’s also a woman who happens to be Jewish. The fact she didn’t reveal her religion during the campaign was hotly debated on a local Internet bulletin board after her win.
And anyone could predict a rookie mayor would make some mistakes.
But she scored an early coup in correcting a Burgess blooper — she secured the return of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities convention — and was also the face of a successful historic flood fight.
Then she started to screw things up a bit. The flood victory parade was ill-conceived.
And while she originally had council working as a team, a couple of councillors with their own eyes set on the mayor’s chair soon decided to break away. So there is an opposition out there and if they believe they can do better, so be it.
The mayor has a couple of years to prove to the folks who elected her that she’s worthy of getting a second term.
She’s going to have a lot of interference trying to get any of her major projects rolling.
I’m still a fan of the current mayor. But she just can’t make the same mistake twice — yes, most importantly the budget process.
And she has to soon secure one of her pet projects: a casino (just a simple business decision thankfully, we’ll keep the religion and racism out of it this time); commercial passenger air service (hopefully WestJet’s new regional airline), the development of the massive Black Property on the North Hill; and, of course, the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
And I’ll be watching this drama play out from the sidelines.
I’m not gonna be the guy speaking his mind and getting trashed and bashed in social media, or public airwaves or in other print products.
I just want to focus on being a good newsroom manager.
And did you know that writing the Notebook column, taking or tracking down photos and designing the page could eat up to two days a week of my time? Then I’d be in here on the weekends trying to clean up my desk because I didn’t have time to do it during the week.
That’s not healthy for me and not good for the paper in the long run.
It isn’t easy running a mainstream outlet in this era — especially one that’s primarily a print media. Coverage has to be planned and timed properly, but the website and our social media feeds still have to be fed regularly.
And I also have some staffing issues coming up that will require my attention.
With our night editor/editorial page editor on vacation, I’m in the middle of two weeks of writing the unsigned Our View editorials.
I’ll also need to spend more time on the website for a few months with the Internet co-ordinator taking an extended vacation.
Before I leave this space I also want to clear up some misconceptions created by a truncated story we ran from our sister newspaper, the Winnipeg Free Press, while I was on vacation recently.
First off, the headline was plain misleading: “Free Press, Brandon Sun Drop Staff As Revenues Decline.”
While the Free Press has eliminated 14 jobs, we have only cut one position. And while the Free Press suggested in the story further job cuts will be made in the third quarter, we have no such plans.
FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership, like most other traditional newspaper operations, is having to deal with declining advertising revenue as readers and advertisers look to other forms of media. It’s called competition.
What the story failed to say is that the story is much brighter in smaller markets such as Brandon than in larger cities.
And we are also working hard to find new sources of revenue and new ways to keep our existing advertisers and readers — and even to expand the business in the long run.
That’s another reason I want to put more effort into helping grow the paper and less into a whimsical weekly purge of fact and fancy that might best be filed under infotainment.
But I leave you with the first and last example of a new feature I was planning to incorporate into the article.
And you can always follow me on Twitter @Monstereditor.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 24, 2012