Thursday, August 04, 2005

As Long As We're All Having Fun, Let's Name Witosky the Editor

Hey, the fun just keeps happening at the local paper.

Last week, it was s bicycle ride. Today, people are taking bets on who their next boss might be.

In the old days, the betting would have taken place at the Office Lounge across the alley.

"I'll take my Pulitzer Prize-winning editor over your Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter anytime," a guy nursing his second bottle of Miller's would tell a woman on her third Bud Light.

Today's wagering might be in the restrooms, where there'd be lots of whispering going on, from one urinal to another.

"How many 'Best of Gannetts' does your guy have?" they'll be asking.

The new editor, whomever he or she is, will be replacing Paul Anger, 56.

Anger, who has been the Register's editor for just three years, has been named to a similar job at the Detroit Free Press.

Tell me now, is going to Detroit your idea of a promotion?

Hell, maybe it's a joke.

After all, Ken Fuson--the guy who wrote the local story--is the paper's humor columnist.

All I can say is good luck to ol' Paul in Detroit. My advice to him is to watch where he walks. He certainly wouldn't want to step on Jimmy Hoffa's grave.

Or into it.

I'll be sending get-well wishes.

The local paper is going to paint as bright a picture of Anger as it can to make this move to Detroit sound like a nice deal.

But they can talk all they want about the local paper winning "Best of Gannett" awards. Old-timers who remember the Pulitzer Prizes picked off by Clark Mollenhoff, Jim Risser and others would like to see the local paper occasionally be just the best in Iowa.

Let's be truthful. Circulation at the local paper kept nosediving while Anger was the editor, and the bleeding is expected to continue under the new boss.

And it's been nosediving, and will continue to nosedive, in Detroit, too.

The questions newsroom people here are asking now are, "Who's my next boss going to be?" and "Will I be around to work for him or her?"

All I can say is, check your pension plan and your 401-K. Maybe Cityview is hiring.

I'm sure there will be a movement to hire a woman for Anger's job. The local paper hasn't had a female editor since Geneva Overholser. She finally got fed up with Gannett and sought greener pastures in more ways than one.

Where's Diane Graham when the local paper needs her? She quit [or was told to quit] her four-day-a-week job as managing editor/staff development [whatever the hell that was] a few months ago. Maybe they can wake her up and see if she wants Anger's job.

Rekha Basu?

Get serious.

Nancy Clark would be a much better choice. Smart. Caring. Level-headed thinker. Has held a number of newsroom jobs here and elsewhere.

Dennis Ryerson, of course, was a flop in the editor's job. He's now in Indianapolis, and that's a great place for him.

Don't worry, they'd never bring him back.

I'm thinking columnist Marc Hansen would be a good candidate for the job. He made a lot of sense and had a lot of the answers when he spoke to the local paper's retirees a while back. He could be the editor and also write columns.

Hell, why not Fuson? Good writer, smiles a lot. He could make it fun, which is a word that hasn't been used on the fourth floor for a long time.

Sports editor Bryce Miller might have a shot at it. They tell me he applies for all the other jobs in the newsroom.

A better candidate than him, though, would be investigative reporter Tom Witosky. He's got both newsside and sports experience, knows where a lot of bodies are buried and would run a tight ship.

He deserves an interview, and right now is my leader in the clubhouse.

Stier told Fuson that managing editor Richard Tapscott, 57, who has worked at the paper since 1998, will take over Anger's role in the newsroom until a new editor is named.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Tapscott.

Don't look for him to be on the short list of candidates.

The editor at the Iowa City Press-Citizen [another Gannett paper] has a better shot at getting an interview.

Maybe the Press-Citizen editor and sportswriter Pat Harty can be sent to the local paper in exchange for two people from the farm department and a reporter from "Juice" to be named later.

Rumor has it that interviews for the job will be held in the newsroom, starting next week. Further interviews are scheduled to be conducted in the local paper's booth at the State Fair. Telephone calls are being accepted, as long as they're not collect. To be helpful to job-seekers outside the paper's Golden Circle area, I suggest you call 1-800-247-5346, which is a toll-free number.

Meanwhile, a memo to Anger: Have a great time in Detroit. And keep an eye on who's following you.

It might be Big Daddy from Gannett. He casts a long shadow.