Monday, March 03, 2008

Dear St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

There is a reason we St. Louis cognoscenti like to call you the Post Disgrace.

It is not because of "edgy" writers like Dana.

It is because your reporting is all too often shoddy, unoriginal, or both.

It is because your articles are often riddled with typos, factual errors, and grammatical goofs any entry-level copy editor ought to be able to catch.

It is because the few brilliant voices at the paper are mostly drowned out in a sea of relentless mediocrity.

It is because your forays into internet publishing have been tentative and tone-deaf; your web design, clunky; your attempts at online community-building, inept.

Post-Dispatch, we don't even HAVE another "real" newspaper in St. Louis. Don't you think we'd like to love you?

Don't you think we wish we could be proud?


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! I skim the paper online, but don't bother to buy it anymore because of these types of issues.

JessiTRON said...

Every few months they leave a complimentary copy on my driveway to remind me why I don't subscribe.

Farrell said...

I know I'm missing something - I know Dana said it was her last column but I'm not in on the scoop

KBO said...

I totally agree. I started getting the Sunday Times at my house, and I really don't even read the Sunday PD anymore because it seems so...empty.

That, and I really hate their environmental coverage. They keep having these "green" inserts and articles that are ridiculously ill-informed. There's a plethora of people in the area who are good writers and actually know something about sustainability; they should tap into that.

R said...

j, you're the gal i'd always want in my corner.

Anonymous said...

I am in awe of your support and the support of others. Thank you.

Lisa said...

I don't subscribe to the Post either. Like Jessitron said. That free copy is always enough to remind me why...

Course in recent times... I have a whole new reason.

MP said...

I mentioned on Dana's post..I read the obits, that is about it. I don't know if Dana's Posts writings were as edgy as they were's just that Dana wouldn't throw out liberal parenting to the readers ... she is a real conservative..hip..parent. They didn't want it. They want a cookie cuter Clair McClaskill wanna be..
My opinion...

Jaelithe said...

I don't think Dana is actually all that edgy, which is why I put the word in scare quotes.

I love Claire McCaskill, actually, being I'm a hippie and all.

But I love Dana, too.

I guess I'm just bi-partisan like that.

I don't know if it was Dana's politics that turned them against her so much as her willingness to talk openly about such appallingly risque subjects as breastfeeding and changing diapers in frank language. I know the Post has historically had liberal leanings, but, that hasn't stopped them from regularly printing politically conservative opinions in columns and editorials. They really have to allow some conservative voices in the paper, I think, in order to stay relevant.

Ironically, I think it was the Post's conservative, older readers' objections to seeing naughty, naughty words like "breast" and "poop" in print that spooked the paper.

If you look at the latest column by Aisha Sultan, Dana's apparent replacement, you'll see that in an entire full-page article about breastfeeding, she manages to use the word "breasts" only once, and then only when essentially warning women not to forget how "society views naked breasts."

In trying to describe some rather serious issues women can develop during nursing, she keeps awkwardly employing terms like "body parts" and "machinery" to dance around her subject. She can't come right out and warn women about the possibility of NIPPLES cracking, oh no-- instead she vaguely mentions that "You can get chapped and cracked and bleed."

This is the kind of coy, demure style the paper wanted Dana to adhere to. Which is not the way she writes at all . . .

Jaelithe said...

P.S. Notice to all conservative readers:

Just because I've been revealing my flaming liberal side lately with my political posts doesn't mean you have to couch your views in protective language like "it's just my opinion." I welcome conversation and as long as comments aren't seriously offensive, I will publish them. Really. Fire away.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jaelithe, I was sad to see Dana and the Post part ways. That was how we found Dana and that is how we found you!

Take this for what it is worth, but my husband's best friend works at the paper and said there has been some issues over time that have lead to this. I think most people are correct in thinking that the two worlds - newspaper and blogs - really don't mesh and that ultimately lead to both going separate ways.

They say there is always two sides to a story and as always the truth lies somewhere inbetween. What was told to us was there was an issue with a whole slew of people and their last paychecks, but it has since been corrected.

There was also some issues as to certain "accuracy points" with Dana's columns/stories. Again, it probably goes back to the two worlds not jiving together. I don't know if there were questions as to if some stories were made up or were not presented in fact.

My take is Dana as a blogger should be able to write as she wants. Also, if she were recruited to "port" over her writings, then it shouldn't be held against her. I'll continue to read Mamalogues as most of us have said already but I just wanted to point that stuff out to you. The "money" issue I think took on a life of its own, but I think that was because it wasn't clarified in her story what exactly happened.

Again, take it for what its worth and whether that info is correct or not. Just thought I would mention it.

Jaelithe said...

That's interesting info, Anonymous. Thanks for the input; I appreciate a nuanced perspective. I don't really know why someone would be rigorously fact-checking amusing anecdotes about such things as potty training stubborn toddlers and encountering inappropriately dressed kids at the playground, though. That just seems a little over-the-top to me.

Especially considering that just a month or two ago I had to send in a correction to the paper because they had put an article up on STLToday that stated there are 52 U.S. states. I think that perhaps the Post has more important editorial issues to address than whether Ewan really pushed the door to the bathroom open that one time when Dana was at the mall.

I have had not just one, not just two, but three different employers/contracting clients either deliberately delay payment or attempt to avoid paying me at all for work I had already done after I'd left the company. (And in all three of these instances, I quit the job, not the other way around.) I think that is actually, sadly, a pretty common practice, so I wasn't at all surprised to hear that Dana hadn't been paid for her last few columns.

Dana said in her latest post that she would tell everyone when she got her paychecks. So, it would appear the situation has NOT been resolved. It may be that someone has told your friend that the issue is GOING to be resolved, but, in my view, as a writer and an independent contractor, a lack-of-payment issue has not been resolved until the check is in my account.

(And even then, you have to watch it. My own husband once had a final paycheck bounce after his employer went bankrupt.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, hopefully things will work themselves out. I have no doubt Dana will have other things going on. When I was working before having my second kid, there was an error in payroll where everyone on the administration side didn't get their check. After it was fixed, we weren't able to get our money until our next pay period but the company did make it up to us later for the time out without the check. For those of us who live paycheck to paycheck, that is tough and I know Dana and Chris are swimming in money - yet!

My interpretation was it wasn't a deliberate snub on not paying her - as others were involved. But who knows.

As far as the facts, I agree with you since it appeared to be a port or extension of her work on Mamalogues. Now if she were doing an actual hard news story, perhaps that's different. I don't think people would genuinely care if some of her family stories were not 100% true. I mean really! Dana seems to be a good Christian woman so that's probably not the case.

I don't know. I just don't like conflict, especially with people I genuinely like. Everyone in our church group loves Dana and we can't wait to see what she has in store next.

Anonymous said...

HEar hear!

Jeannette E. Spaghetti said...

I've read this post a couple times now and haven't been able to formulate anything intelligent to say...except:

Great Post!!! I couldn't have said it better myself.

(And, 52 states? Really? WTF?)

Anonymous said...

I would love to know anon's IP address just to see if it's the same Lee employee (who owns the PD) that stalked me on my site.

This is utter shit:
"There was also some issues as to certain "accuracy points" with Dana's columns/stories. Again, it probably goes back to the two worlds not jiving together. I don't know if there were questions as to if some stories were made up or were not presented in fact."

I take defamation seriously, FYI, "anon." May I advise that you do as well. I mean, I've heard some over-the-top things from my critics before but that takes the cake.

The best defense of libel is truth - and that is exactly what I posted. I question the motives of those who lack the "inside" info and would make such allegations.

Jaelithe said...

Re: Dana: As I said in response to the Anonymous comment in question, the very idea of rigorously fact-checking the minutiae of amusing parenting anecdotes seems beyond ridiculous to me, which in turn makes the idea that accuracy issues would somehow be a part of the Post's beef with you also ridiculous.

I mean, it's pretty clear that you do, in fact, have two male children, that you do, in fact, homeschool them, that you are, in fact, married to the man you say you are married to, and you do, in fact, live in the city. All of those things can be confirmed without much effort. Since those are the topics you most frequently touch on in your columns, and those facts about you are obviously accurate, I am not sure what sort of inaccuracies anyone would be worried about.

Do they think you don't actually spank your kids, maybe?

Or maybe they think you secretly love patchouli!

Again, ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even a woman. I am, in fact, a 55-year-old unmarried, childless male named Curtis. I enjoy waxing my back hair, polyester, and listening to my Wayne Newton albums. I am also a public school shop teacher.

Why did I bother addressing it with Dr. J here to mete it out? Ooh - that sobriquet rox.