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Who's a mensch?

Regarding former Times editor Dean Baquet being deemed the New York Observer's Media Mensch of the Year...

• I've been an editor, reporter and desk drone for several newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune. It strikes me as myopic that the New York Observer would give its Mensch Award to Dean Baquet without also acknowledging that the greater sacrifice probably came from the publishers -- both Tribune lifers -- who saw the light and "went native."

Dean's leadership qualities and many journalistic accomplishments assured him of a plethora of high-profile career options, no matter what he said or did in the wake of the departures of John Carroll and publishers John Puerner and Jeff Johnson. He tried mightily to play the Tribune's game, but, to almost no one's great surprise, it wasn't to be. His wasn't a suicide mission, and he'll live to fight again.

For a publisher to take a stand against his own employer is much riskier, in that corporate entities expect and demand loyalty as part of the job description of any senior manager. They know it going in, and are handsomely compensated for putting their ethical convictions on hiatus. It explains why publishers tend to be Republican, no matter the political leanings of their editorial boards.

I have no idea what John and Jeff are doing for work. I doubt they will be forced any time soon to join the legion of homeless folks who live in the shadow of the Times building. I'm more certain, though, they won't be receiving Man of the Year honors from E&P magazine or American Newspaper Publishers Association.

Give Dean his due, but don't forget the larger sacrifice. Something tells me that media organizations aren't standing in line to hire progressive publishers.

Gary Dretzka

December 20, 2006 5:21 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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