Thursday, December 30, 2004

Was Nick Coleman drunk or just off his meds?

Nick Coleman, crack columnist
Nick Coleman, "crack" columnist

It's a fair question after his ranting, ad hominem screed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune attacking the proprietors of Power Line. "Career Suicide by Blogger", indeed. But the fascinating part of all this is the insight into the the life of a leftoid columnist for a big city left-wing daily like the Red Star Tribune.
As staff at the Star Tribune got word of Coleman's hire, there was little in the way of celebration. The decision to hire a 53-year-old white guy with liberal tendencies to write a column in the metro section alongside Doug Grow, another fifty-something lib with skin color to match, actually befuddled a number of people--including Grow, who some believe may be reassigned to a lower-profile beat. "I always assumed, and this is not meant as a criticism of Nick, that they would hire someone with a much different voice; whether it be a female, a person of color, or a conservative [snort - ed.]," Grow says.

Confusion in the newsroom quickly morphed to anger, not only because a brand-new, high-paying position was created for Coleman while other departments at the newspaper are struggling to do more with less, but because the job was never posted, which offended many longtime writers, especially women and people of color. There was even scuttlebutt, unsubstantiated but illuminating, that Coleman may have signed a package deal so that his wife, PiPress columnist Laura Billings, could come over to the Strib after she completes her pending maternity leave. (Coleman flatly denies the rumor.)

By the end of last week, the Newspaper Guild, which also represents editorial workers at the Strib, was debating whether to lodge an official complaint against the paper for engaging in illegal hiring practices. "It would be more than fair to say that a lot of people are upset," one union rep says. "That's a great job, and there's more than a few people around here who would have done it very well."
Ruh Oh! I guess ole Nick has to keep up his street cred with the wingnuts or he gets "equal opportunitied." No more columns about domestic bliss, eh Nick?