Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sacramento Bee editor finds 2 enlightened readers

Sacramento Bee editor Melanie Sill has been "inviting Bee readers into a conversation" -- her annoying phrase -- about the Bee and the role of journalism.

In her column today she highlights two readers who have seen the light -- which of course means they hold the same view Melanie Sill does.

Sill mentions one subscriber by name -- Bill Timmons -- who called her to suggest subscribers should be given the option of paying extra for the Bee during the recession to help the Bee stay solvent. (Exactly what is preventing Timmons from pulling out his checkbook on his own and writing out a check to McClatchy?)
Bill Timmons told me he sees The Bee as "sort of a neighborhood watchdog to keep everything in line and out in the open."

Other readers have voiced similar sentiments. One wrote to say she was renewing her subscription after canceling months ago because she was unhappy with our coverage.


"The Sacramento Bee may not be exactly the paper I want it to be, but it is the paper in our community, and we should support it," she wrote.
The last 4 words in that reader's sentence, which Sill quotes approvingly, tells you the Bee's mindset, and explains why it is hemorrhaging subscribers. The way McClatchy sees it, "Readers should support us. We are the enlightened ones on Mount Olympus and we know what is best." Uh, no. Readers know what they are doing.

It's nice that Melanie Sill found a couple of readers who see it the way she does. But what about the thousands of subscribers who have dumped their subscriptions in recent years? Melanie Sill should spend more time listening to the consumer, not engaging in fake conversations.

Hat tip: John in Carolina
.
.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sill's a terrific editor. More power to her.

Too bad you couldn't hack it at the Bee, pal.

Anonymous said...

Funny, you're the first person I have ever heard of that says Mule Mouth is even palatable, much less terrific. Is this you mule mouth?

Anonymous said...

Maybe you hang out with fools and name-callers.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least Melanie is consistent. She never has a clue. Don't expect liberals to mail in money to support their mouthpiece. That's what the government is for. Get ready for the next bailout, all in the name of "fairness".

Anonymous said...

"The Sacramento Bee may not be exactly the paper I want it to be, but it is the paper in our community, and we should support it," she wrote.
============================

That sounds like a pitiful cry for help from the editor. Perhaps she knows that her lifestyle is about the crash and she is desperately seeking a lifeline.

These soon to be "former" editors are about to come down a few notches. They are so accustomed to their words/opinions being taken seriously that they have difficulty trying to imagine a life after the newspaper job ends.

They have no other employable skills that can transfer to other companies.

I know a two former newspaper employees (earlier layoffs/buyouts) that have already filed for bankruptcy.

That is the future for these people. Unemployment checks, then bankruptcy, then foreclosure on the house.

Anonymous said...

Grasping at straws!

Anonymous said...

Unlike most of you backstabbers, I worked with and for Melanie Sill for 20 years. She's not warm and cuddly but she is a fine editor. I only wish those of you who are so gleeful to see her the industry on the ropes could have been there to see her smack down a critic who said, essentially, that she and her journalists in Iraq "had blood on their hands" because they didn't toe the political line he had drawn in the sand. Melanie, in his face, cut him to ribbons. It was beautiful to see. She's hard to get close to, but she's like a mother bear when her cubs are threatened.
Too bad you people never had anyone fight like hell for you...or maybe you didn't deserve it.
I'd work for her anywhere, any time.

Anonymous said...

Unlike most of you backstabbers, I worked with and for Melanie Sill for 20 years. She's not warm and cuddly but she is a fine editor. I only wish those of you who are so gleeful to see her and the industry on the ropes could have been there to see her smack down a critic who said, essentially, that she and her journalists in Iraq "had blood on their hands" because they didn't toe the political line he had drawn in the sand. Melanie, in his face, cut him to ribbons. It was beautiful to see. She's hard to get close to, but she's like a mother bear when her cubs are threatened.
Too bad you people never had anyone fight like hell for you...or maybe you didn't deserve it.
I'd work for her anywhere, any time.

Anonymous said...

I'd work for her anywhere, any time.



Good for you. Can you say, "Two big macs hold the mustard and a side of fries? Aye, Aye Senorita Wolf Jaw"

May you have a long and fruitful career.

Anonymous said...

Second that: Sill is excellent, and has no time for triflers. Best editor I've ever worked for.

The hacks can't stand her. Screw them.

Bob Wilson said...

Melanie is a terrific editor? Tell that to the Duke lacrosse players who were slimed by The News & Observer on Melanie's watch. The N&O set the frame with specious, biased reporting until the ever-reliable Joe Neff brought in the smelling salts and began reporting the truth.

Neither Melanie, John Drescher (then ME) nor any of her subordinate editors has apologized for the egregious harm the paper did to the lacrosse players. It was one of the vilest episodes in modern journalism since the Sam Sheppard case -- if indeed one dares call it journalism.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Sill presided over perhaps the most egregious example of journalistic malpractice in decades - the Duke lacrosse case.

Did the News & Observer lead the charge on prosecutorial and police corruption in their own backyard? Hardly. If anything, the N&O fanned the flames of injustice. The job of speaking truth to power was left up to an obscure history professor in Brooklyn who started a blog called Durham in Wonderland.

The innocent lacrosse players have been exonerated by the governor and received millions in damages. Sill was quietly transfered to California.

And there she still sits, when thousands of her colleagues who had nothing to do with this shameful chapter of American journalism are getting their pink slips.

I'm jus' sayin...

Anonymous said...

Bob: I swear I didn't copy you. Was composing while you were posting. (I see we both used the word egregious. Ha!)

Anonymous said...

The ever-reliable Joe Neff is employed by The N&O.

Strange sort of conspiracy that you posit -- on one hand, the paper would have to plot to unfairly treat those boys, and then days later start exonerating them. The paper stumbled in the first few days and has owned up to it. Then it roared back strong.

As for the influence of The N&O on the case, allow me to quote your Brooklyn professor, K.C. Johnson: "critical to the outcome."

Bob Wilson said...

Anon 7:44, the only way the N&O can "own up" to the lacrosse debacle is via an apology from the publisher and the executive editor. I have not seen one, nor do I expect to.

There was no conspiracy at the N&O, just blatant institutional bias in those critical early stories.

Go back and read them, especially the March 25, 2006, story and its heds: "Dancer gives details of ordeal: A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence." It quickly became apparent that the heds and story contained more fiction than fact.

From there it was but a short leap to the potbangers parading with their big "Castrate" banner. I say again, the N&O set the frame with reckless reporting and editing. To its credit, the capsized Old Reliable righted itself and performed well after Joe Neff went to work on the lacrosse story.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't expect an apology either.

As my grandmother used to say:

"If you don't want it in the newspaper, don't join a rowdy college lacrosse team, throw a drunken party where you hire a mentally unstable stripper, encourage them to penetrate themselves for your amusement, holler vaguely racist things as the party disintegrates and live in a county with an imbalanced and unscrupulous DA."

My granny was right. Bad things can happen in that situation. Those kids should have been in the library.

Anonymous said...

Sill is a good editor who can think out of the box. Her weakness, IMHO, is in not getting rid of the top management incompetents at the Sac Bee who still contaminate her news operation. She and the online side have done a tremendous job, but the print side management is an awful joke among staffers.

Anonymous said...

8:28: Would your grandma say that obnoxious frat-boy behavior deserves 30 years in prison? Even for the player who had digital proof he wasn't there at the time? If so, your grandma would be right at home in the Third Reich.

Anonymous said...

No, those kids were done wrong. No doubt. But if you do stupid things, stupid things will be done to you.

Welcome to the real world, boys.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 8:28,

With all respect to your Granny, bad things can happen anywhere; being “in the library” is no protection.

Do you recall the cab driver arrested at work and put on trial after he provided an alibi for one of the innocent students "the Durham justice system" was framing and planning to send to prison for decades?

Do you know that trusting citizens, unaware they were being lied to by authorities, voted as a grand jury to indict three innocent young men who’ll now carry that stigma for the rest of their lives?

Do you at least know the Durham Police and DA repeatedly lied to the entire public about "stonewalling" and "horrific crimes?"

Those are all things much, much worse then some bad college student behavior. They are all essential parts of a police state’s operating system, as the Nazis and Soviets showed us.

One last thing: Did your Granny ever tell you about the sort of people who witness or learn about what happened in Durham in Spring 2006, and then focus most of their criticisms and blame not on the authorities but on the victims?

If you're Granny did talk about such people, she might have used Lenin's term for them: "useful idiots."

Do you remember?

Thanks for reading.

John in Carolina

Anonymous said...

Well, actually, the library would have been a smart place to be. Those three innocent lads would never have been tied up in the whole mess. And maybe they would have read a good book besides.

Betcha they're not going to stripper parties anymore.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:57

Hitler and Stalin counted on citizens like you: smug, stupid and willing to go along with criminal acts by their governments.

Anonymous said...

Oh spare me. Any time one has to bring up Hitler, you've lost the argument.