Monday, April 24, 2006

Coward Turns Tail

I hadn't checked the local news yet today when I got an email tip.

Gah. She hadn't even had her first column published and Wendi Thomas is already running home. I guess what journalists always say about being able to separate feelings and the job is true, as her colleagues had no clue"
Sun editor Tim Franklin says he was "surprised and disappointed" by Thomas’ decision to resign. "I got a call yesterday afternoon that she was contemplating it," Franklin says, and received Thomas’ resignation in person this morning. "She had quite obviously made up her mind by the time of the meeting," he says.

Franklin says Thomas did not appear unhappy during her several weeks in Baltimore, where she has been getting to know the city and fellow journalists. "She seemed happy," he says. "I know other members of the staff had made a point to greet her and tried to make her feel at home … I don’t think any of us had any inkling of this."

During their meeting this morning, Franklin says Thomas "made it clear that she was welcomed at The Sun and that she liked the paper, but she wanted to go home and this was entirely a personal decision for her."
She wanted to go home? That bodes very poorly for us, her once-more readers. Thomas willingly left her home, her family and her boyfriend to take a higher profile gig in a city she wasn't familiar with. It's the classic step up in journalism.

Removed from her comfort zone, she apparently quickly realised she couldn't hack it. Rather than work hard to build a new life, new friends, and new relationships with her family, to dig in and learn to love her new home, she went back to her comfort zone.

Feh. Think what that says about her. Think what it says about what she'll write and how she views this city. You think she'll be skeptical and critical of anything that keeps her comfort levels up in Memphis? You think she'll oppose changes that threaten her comfort?

Status quo Wendi. That's what we ought to call her. And now we'll be stuck with her for many, many years to come. Safe Wendi, in her safe job, in her safe hometown, surrounded by the safety of family, church, etc. Will she even know how to recognise the comfortable in order to afflict them?

What does it say about Publisher Joseph Pepe and Editor Chris Peck that they're taking her back so suddenly? The CA is fighting a battle to stem circulation losses in the Internet age. Taking Wendi back is a defensive move. Rather than forge ahead, they are stepping back. Wendi's a known quantity, a familiar writer; they know how she fits into their plans. Better, I guess, to stick with the evils you know than run to others you know not of. Cowards at the Death Star, too.

And thus ends my campaign to take her job. Too bad. I'd've been great for the Commercial Appeal. A hell of a lot better than that coward Wendi.

INSTANT UPDATE: Oops! I forgot: The Memphis Flyer was on the case and reported this first. Credit where credit is due.

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