Friday, December 05, 2008

S&E Publisher Runs Away!

Dammit, I need to start paying more attention to the Fitchburg Pride. Beyond making fun of the religious leaders they print, that is.

Instead, I had to rely on my time-traveling friend to point out this breaking news!
Sentinel & Enterprise Publisher Rick Thurman is no longer at the job, less than nine months after taking leadership of the paper.

When Thurman took over as publisher in March, he was the fourth person in the job in less than two years. He replaced Chuck Owen, who held the post for five months.

Multiple sources said on Wednesday afternoon that Thurman was no longer at the paper. An assistant at the Fitchburg office said Wednesday afternoon, “We’re not commenting on that,” when asked a question about Thurman’s status.
That's pretty much all you need to know from this article.

There are some quotes from people saying nice things about Thurman, and a lot of non-quotes from people who might actually know something about his departure but aren't willing to talk.

Indeed, Thurman has been wiped off the Sentinel's company directory page. So I guess he's really gone.

This is both disappointing and expected.

Thurman seemed to be helping the paper for awhile. Hell, I even had something positive to say about it way back in March. That's almost unheard of!

For awhile it seemed that the paper was on its way to becoming something better. It had been freed from the tyranny of Chuck "angry assclown" Owen and things were looking up!

For a few months there we actually had intelligent editorials and not just the incoherent and bile-soaked eructations of Jeff McMenemy. Sure, they were mostly syndicated editorials, but they were decent syndicated editorials. Not like the crap they've been reprinting lately.

The reporting also seemed to be more sensible. It wasn't all freaking out about totally sensible money-saving plans, or breathless articles about metrosexual vampire movies. I actually had hopes that it could one day become a respectable paper, and not just the WorldNetDaily of North Central Massachusetts.

Alas, I was wrong.

It's seemed like whatever positive influence Thurman originally had has been waning in the last couple of months. Sort of like McMenemy broke out of his little cell and has been running free again.

This is good for me, because I get easy-to-write posts out of it. But it's bad for the region, and for "journalism" as a concept.

I'm not a journalist, of course. So I'm going to wildly speculate about what happened to make Thurman leave. I've come up with a few different scenarios.

Possibility 1: Since the S&E keeps losing publishers, but somehow keeps the incompetent Jeff McMenemy as its barely-literate wingnut editor, maybe McMenemy is the reason for Thurman's departure. Perhaps he either has some dirt on the big boss or has otherwise curried favor with him. So when the idealistic new publisher shows up he runs into a brick wall when trying to deal with the cancer that is his editor. He sticks around trying for awhile, but eventually comes to realize there's no way to save the paper without getting rid of the cancer, and quits out of despair when he realizes he can't do that.

I consider that to be the most likely explanation. But here are some others.

Possibility 2: The newspaper industry sucks. It's dying. The smart passengers are getting off the ship before it goes under completely.

Possibility 3: I guess maybe Thurman could have been offered a better job. But in this economy? In the soon-to-be-dead newspaper industry? Doesn't seem terribly likely. On the other hand, any job is probably better than the one he had.

Possibility 4: Rick Thurman is an illegal alien and has been deported to from whence he came! This also seems unlikely.

Those are just off the top of my head. If any readers have their own theories (or better yet, know the real reason), please don't hesitate to share.

In the meantime; thanks for trying, Rick! Things were better for like two months!

UPDATE: Hey, it's been a long time since I put up a poll! So I did! About this!