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Date Posted: 20:25:19 08/18/16 Thu
Author: Granitehead
Subject: Re: A Couple Points
In reply to: Former PGer 's message, "Re: A Couple Points" on 04:36:48 08/18/16 Thu

But didn't Craig fight more for his newsroom than Beltway Dave? The past decade or so makes it clear that in Craig's legacy of hits and foulups, Beltway is in the "foulup" category.

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[> [> [> [> Re: A Couple Points -- Former PGer, 22:05:50 08/19/16 Fri [1]

Craig had much more power/leverage than Shribman. When John Block was a young, headstrong, pup still living in Toledo, Craig used to spent a couple of days each week in Ohio mentoring John the Brat, teaching him how to be a newspaper editor.

In those days, Craig had the juice to tell Kid Robbie "no." When Bill Block Sr. died, John Block took over the PG and began to flex his muscles. Craig managed to fendoff John Block's idiotic demands for several years, but towards the end Craig seemed to lose interest in the day-to-day operation. In his final years, he was spending more and more time with civic functions (River Live Task Force).

I never saw or heard of Shribman going against John Block's will. When Block said we're laying off so and so, or so many people, Shribman dutifully carried out the order.

Kid Robbie and the rest of the Blockheads (after Bill Sr.'s death) were always pushing the panic button, wanting to take some drastic measure to cut expenses when Craig was the editor. Most of those ideas never saw the light of day -- because of Craig. Rather than cut jobs, Craig would come up some other, less obtrusive move like cutting the management salaries by 10-15%. Or, flatout, telling John Block "we aren't going to do that."

To be fair to Shribman, these are much tougher economic times for the PG. What's going on at the PG now is going on throughout the industry.

I'm not sure anyone could maintain a respectable product at the PG with all of the cuts (jobs, news hole, etc). But, I'd sure rather have Craig as my editor under these circumstances. Craig was a visionary. Yes, he had a lot of crazy ideas, but he also did a lot of unorthodox things that worked.

Shribman, although an egghead, has a meat and potatoes approach to covering the news. His approach is right out of a Journalism 101 text book, circa 1975.

The PG might very well sink some day, but I'd feel a lot better with Craig at the helm than Shribman.

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[> [> [> [> [> Re: A Couple Points -- Granitehead, 06:33:10 08/20/16 Sat [1]

This makes sense. Craig was smart with the best elements of the old school editor though he could be a handful. I've often fingered JR as the family's wanna-be newspaper mogul. I remember a story long ago about internal friction when the other Blocks [not JR] decided to close the DC Bureau. If the Blocks are all stockholders, and a majority get tired of covering PG losses, it will be high drama if en masse they tell JR, this is it. We want to sell it or close it. Like JR, Shribman's snobbish view of Pittsburgh and PG readers is fact. His lack of vision and compliant, no-argument nature are exactly what JR wants. A real editor would have walked out of there years ago.

They are so out of touch with the people they don't ever consider that a tipping point exists. There's a point fast approaching where Pittsburgh readers who still read, online or in print, will look at the PG and its diminished coverage and quality and say, "who needs it?" They offer all this brave talk of the future, and then the inexperienced, newly promoted Deputy ME tasked with creating that revolutionary, digital PG walks out after less than a year. When enough readers say screw it, whether JR likes it or not, that's it. If the Trib goes first, the PG won't be far behind.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: A Couple Points -- Former PGer, 07:22:24 08/20/16 Sat [1]

This is not directed at you, Granitehead but I hope those on this board who are always predicting doom for both Pgh papers are dead wrong.

I rather enjoy having two newspapers in Pittsburgh, regardless of the declining quality of both. I wish nothing but the best for both papers. We in Pittsburgh are fortunate to still have a choice, or if you're like me, you read both papers. There are a lot of much larger markets that lost the second paper long ago. When there's no competition, it's natural for the surviving paper to get lazy, the reporters, the editors, the ownership.

Although I don't see a lot of evidence (in the products) of a driven competition between the two (like the PG and Press back in the day), I'm no longer in the newsroom. I'm sure it's there to some degree.

And, really if you work in the business and you're worth a damn, it's the competition that keeps you going each day. It's certainly isn't the high wages, the enlightened owners or some (not all) of the clueless editors one has to work for during a career.

I've known a lot of newspaper types who drank too much, a few dabbled too much with drugs, but the addiction of choice was competition. On my various beats, I used to wake up thinking how I was going to kick the competition's butt each morning.

I hope there at least a few at today's Trib and PG who still feel this way.

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