Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Memo To Mark Yost

TO: Mark Yost, Associate Editor St. Paul Pioneer Press

FROM: A concerned bystander

RE: Why they hate us

I understand that your boss isn't too happy with all the talk that your column on media coverage of the war in Iraq has generated and, as a result, he has slapped a gag order on you to quell any further discussions of the matter. I strongly applaud this move and urge you cease and desist from engaging in any conservations on the column, people's reactions to it, and the reaction to those reactions, both in public and in private.

Such conversations are drawing unwanted attention to the column, to you, and to the newspaper. In the advertising business this is known as "buzz" and that's the last thing the Pioneer Press needs these days. Because if people hear about this column they might start reading the paper. Even subscribing to it. Then the advertisers start banging on your door. Next thing you know, you're actually building a reputation as a legitimate competitor to the Star Tribune in the local marketplace instead of cowering in the shadows and picking at the Strib's leftovers.

None of us would want that, right? I mean c'mon Mark, it's one thing to take the field with the Park Bugle, but do you really expect the Pioneer Press to play in the big leagues?

Remember Mark, this is St. Paul, Minnesota. We don't like to make waves or stand out in any way. We like it here. The Pioneer Press is a nice little newspaper just trying to get by. So why can't you just be a good little columnist and play nice with your friends in the media?

From now on, let's pretend that this little, unpleasant column never even existed. When people ask you about the reaction to the column, you say,

"Column? What column? I didn't write any column about media coverage of the war in Iraq. You must be thinking of Jack Kelly at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Ask him to be interviewed on TV. Write blog posts about him. Link to his newspaper's web site. Talk about him at the water cooler. Read his newspaper."

You'll look back on this one day and realize that it really was the best thing for you, your column, and the newspaper.

Oh by the way, the British have a message for the Pioneer Press too. They're demanding that the paper quit using a bulldog as its mascot. Something about destroying the brand image that they're worked so hard to build. They suggest that an appropriate alternative for the Pioneer Press would be a French Poodle.

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