Nothing like 12 hours in a car to discuss the world of newspapers! On Friday, my friend Dave Hoekstra, the best newspaper writer in Chicago lost his job at the Chicago Sun Times after 32 years at the paper. Shortly after that fateful moment, I picked him up at his house and we proceeded to drive to St. Louis to continue work on a project we are working on. Six hours each way gave us a lot of time to talk about the state of newspapers in this country (and to play some great basketball trivia, thanks to Google on his phone).
I have been watching the demise of the Sun Times (my paper of choice) for quite some time. Last year the paper fired their entire photography staff in an obvious attempt to not have to pay benefits for all those guys. The publisher explained that photography has gone the way of the horse and buggy, and started setting up classes for his reporters to learn how to take pictures with their iPhones!
A short time before that, the paper eliminated their Sunday Arts section, replacing it with a section called Splash, filled with celebrity gossip, and helmed by Susanna Negovin, who in my opinion has spent years honing her craft and perfecting the art of being the second worst writer in the history of the printed word.
First place still resides in the capable hands of Michael Sneed, who used to be a journalist (she covered The Jim Jones mass suicide and never lets people forget that) and now copies and pastes press releases into her column in the Sun Times, in between reporting on which celebrities are eating in which restaurants.
So there was no place left for Dave, who excelled in finding interesting people and out of the way places to write (beautifully) about.
A great voice for the common man has been silenced (hopefully not for long).
Riding in the car with him was sad (and sometimes hilarious) as he kept checking his Facebook page for the tributes that kept on pouring in. My favorite was from our mutual friend John Soss, who wrote:
Dave. I’ve been doing some thinking. If each of your 1200 Facebook friends bought you 1 sandwich (or if it’s early in the day, a Denver omelet or some oatmeal), and if we coordinated it properly – so that everyone didn’t buy you a sandwich all on the same day – you could last more than a year without having to buy any food! You can sign me up, and it’s safe to say you can depend on Tony Fitzpatrick Mary Houlihan Kate FitzGerald Monica Eng Ric Addy Lloyd Sachs Marc Alghini Tom Marker to name a few.
He can depend on me for a sandwich, too!!
My favorite comment from Dave was:
This is great. It’s like I died but I can still see all the comments from my friends and reply to them!”
Also see this: