In two weeks’ time, I’ll be leaving the building as editor of City Weekly.
But before your mind drops down the rabbit hole of, “Yet another journalism defector, another sign of the end,” rest assured, it’s not that dire. After a decade at City Weekly, and four years as editor, it’s just time for a change. My restless soul wants to know what’s around the next bend.
The notion that our industry is facing extinction is greatly overplayed. Life demands that we be informed, and we’ll always need skilled journalists who can accurately depict the community scene. The question is, by what vehicle will your news arrive? On a slab of newsprint, chucked out of a truck onto your driveway? Or via radio waves bouncing off towers into your smartphone? It remains to be seen when the last newspaper press will finally squeak to a halt. Our print edition doesn’t look like it will fade from view anytime soon. Unlike the daily papers, nearly all of our copies are scooped up each week from hundreds of news racks. Beyond print, our website, social media and coupon store cater to an even wider-reading audience.
For all the grim forecasts about print journalism, the revolution we’re experiencing has been quite healthy. I am thrilled I had the opportunity to be around for this latest leap into hyperspace. It’s been my honor.
Thus, the sky is not falling. But that’s not to say there aren’t legitimate concerns in our industry. I regret having to use my last column as editor to invoke the name of MediaOne, but a phone call I received from Honduras recently demands that I do. In case you haven’t subscribed to the daily papers lately, MediaOne, as the business face and printing press of The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, outsourced its subscription call center to the Central America Republic of Honduras some time ago. My weekend subscription to the Trib came up for renewal late in 2012, and due to my fairly ingrained online reading habits, I decided not to renew. So, I let my subscription lapse—or at least I thought I had. The papers continued to land on my driveway in January, February and March.
Last week, I received a call from Winston in Honduras telling me I owed MediaOne $34.03. Winston informed me that by not canceling my subscription, I had committed to pay. “You admit you did receive the renewal notice?” he asked.
“Yes, but I didn’t pay attention to it because I wasn’t renewing,” I said.
“So, you’re not going to pay the $34.03?” Winston asked.
“I didn’t ask for the papers,” I said. “In fact, I’m going to call the local MediaOne office and tell them what I think of this shoddy business practice.” We ended on that note.
Two days later, I received a letter from a collections agency demanding $34.03. Really? Being sent to a collection agency for not renewing my newspaper subscription!
With business practices like that, MediaOne proves over and over that it doesn’t give a damn about the upstanding work being done by the reporters and editors who toil at its daily papers. For every bit of prestige and honor those journalists bring to their papers, MediaOne erodes it by biting the hand that feeds it.
But that brings us back to the good guys in the white hats. Salt Lake City can take pride in its locally owned alt-weekly. If you phone or stop by our offices, you’ll likely speak with Elly Green, stationed at our front desk. If you have an advertising question or issue, you can speak to a real human being: Andy Sutcliffe, our general manager, or Jennifer Van Grevenhof, our ad manager. Need a copy of an invoice sent to you? Ask for Cody Winget. Want to request a newspaper rack for your shop? Phone Larry Carter. Have a question about buying a coupon from the store? E-mail Paula Saltas, the wife of our founder, John Saltas.
There’s a family heart and soul to City Weekly. As our publisher, John Saltas, invents a new business model for our future, he isn’t outsourcing our jobs; he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, launching a new venture: the City Weekly Store, which brings readers and local advertisers together via discounted coupons. There is no more wise, generous and hospitable soul in this town than my boss and, yes, friend, John Saltas.
Our editorial department is made up of some of the best in the biz. I can depart knowing that interim editors Scott Renshaw and Stephen Dark will share editing duties until a replacement is found. Our talented managing editor, Rachel Piper, will keep all the trains (and special issues) running on time. And stalwart digital editor Bill Frost will not let the website veer far from its intended path. Eric Peterson will keep an eye on our crafty politicians, and Austen Diamond will keep tabs on the best musical offerings in our fair city. Colin Wolf’s blogs will keep making us LOL. And Kolbie Stonehocker and John Paul Brophy will continue scouring our copy for the next horrifying typo.
For their undying dedication to the cause, I thank our many columnists and freelancers past and present. And to our readers, I’ve loved being your advocate on these pages these many years. Do keep reading! The best is yet to come.