Covering Dennis Ryerson

Dateline: Fri 15 Aug 2008

A former colleague attended the Lucas Oil Stadium shindig last night. You're going to get a heap of glitz from most everyone in media about that event, but my friend noted how stressed out the Star's exec editor Dennis Ryerson looked.

Ryerson has aged, said the source -- noticeably. Ryerson apparently was not there to cover the event; at least, he did not have a visible press badge (unlike his wife, Mary Milz of Channel 13).

Ryerson spent a good portion of his evening with his cell phone pressed to his ear. One can only speculate that he was hearing bad news about the layoffs at the Star and trying to absorb that blow. He seemed distracted, says the observer.

I've been hammered by some readers of this blog for being too hard on Ryerson in the past. But working with him fairly closely for five or so years, I can attest to his human side.

Still, I wish he and Gannett had provided the sort of leadership desperately needed at today's floundering newspapers. Quit with the products already; quit with the side show of magazines and websites designed for moms and dogs and cats. Quit the pandering, the hand-wringing, the unctuous endless desire to be "liked" by the community you cover and in which you live.

Instead, let the reporters do their jobs. Publish good journalism. Do deep-throat work. Dig. Write. Let it fly.

Maybe it won't save the day, but at least the ship would go down with honor and integrity intact.

And maybe some of the stress would be relieved by knowing you did the right thing, rather than what is expedient.


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