It seems that Randy Rickman, the publisher of the Independent Record, has more explaining to do, this time attempting to justify his decision to offer yet another “fresh start” at the Independent Record.
Rickman first wants us to believe that the Independent Record’s new managing editor was chosen for her qualifications for the job:
Our first priority was to find a new editor to lead our newsroom. We conducted a national search and found a well-qualified editor, Holly Michels, who will start in a couple weeks.
Call me a cynic if you will, but I find it somewhat difficult to believe, given the huge number of jobs lost in the newspaper business recently, that the most qualified person to become the managing editor of the newspaper in the state capital was someone who has only worked as a reporter for 2 years. I would hazard a guess that stronger candidates, given appropriate pay and notification about the job, might have emerged.
Once again, I don’t know Ms. Michels and I hope she turns out to be an excellent managing editor, but her resume doesn’t compare too favorably to the roster of editors who have managed the Independent Record. It’s simply laughable to think that she was the most qualified or experienced candidate in a “national search.”
Next, Rickman offered an absurd replacement for the process of newspaper endorsements:
This week, each candidate received, or will receive, a letter that asks them to tell voters, in their own words, why they should vote for him/her. The length of the column is 400 words or less and can not include any mention of their opponent.
What he’s describing is the extension of the increasingly vapid coverage of politics. Instead of having a community board or editors carefully measure the qualifications each person has for the office she’s seeking, the Independent Record plans to replace that vetting process with 400 words of empty promises and half-truths.
In a time of diminished and often incomplete coverage of our political candidates, exchanging critical examination of candidates by a qualified community board for a set of self-congratulatory epistles penned the candidates’ staffs is an epically short-sighted abrogation of the newspaper’s responsibility.
It will eliminate one last hurdle between the epically stupid and public office.
Does Mr. Rickman really believe that anyone will learn anything of value from these pieces?
Fundamentally, it seems that Mr. Rickman might start to consider the possibility that he’s the problem. Periodically turning the paper over to his political agenda, driving out an editor who was really enhancing its hard news focus, cutting the reporting staff to the bone and then berating the staff with language not fit for a newspaper or this blog might feel like leadership and the opportunity for fresh leadership to Mr. Rickman, but from the outside, it looks like someone killing a local institution.
Want a fresh start? How about taking a look at the person who has been in charge of the IR while all this turmoil has happened? Maybe there is another job he is “well qualified” for, because he sure as hell isn’t qualified to be a newspaper publisher.