Thursday, December 04, 2008
Some thoughts on the firing of Sarah Overstreet
While I have sympathy for all of the 19 people who lost their jobs during Gannett's latest purge of the Springfield News-Leader's ranks, I am mystified by the newspaper's choice to eliminate long-time columnist Sarah Overstreet.
As newspaper continue to inch their way toward the 21st century, they seem intent on eliminating the advantages they have had over other media. One is the columnist who becomes the voice of the community. That is what Sarah Overstreet has been to Springfield during her long tenure at the News-Leader.
That kind of columnist is worth his or her weight in gold. Names like Mike Royko in Chicago, Jimmy Breslin in New York, Irv Kupcinet in San Francisco come to mind.
The News-Leader has systematically ran off every columnist or reporter who has become associated with the community, a process which appears to be complete with the cavalier dismissal of Ms. Overstreet.
Ms. Overstreet and columnists like her are ones who are not universally liked. In fact, they have people who absolutely detest every word they write...but they keep on reading. And for those who did enjoy her work, it was often the first thing they turned to when they opened the News-Leader.
It is already hard to think of the News-Leader as a Springfield newspaper, considering the departure over recent years of so many people who were so associated with the newspaper. The names Steve Koehler, Ron Davis, Scott Puryear, and the late Marty Eddlemon jump to mind.
While those people were still around, it was possible to still maintain the illusion that the Springfield News-Leader was a community newspaper with a vested interest in Springfield.
Sarah Overstreet was the last link to those days. The illusion is forever shattered.