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Omdougsman a fortune cookie full of answers

Layoffs. Editor resignations. Newspaper format changes …

We’ve had a week of upheaval here at The Spokesman-Review.

So you know what that means.

That’s right. It’s time for another installment of The Omdougsman. This forum answers questions about the newspaper that any columnist with half a brain and a better sense of self-preservation wouldn’t touch with a cattle prod.

Q: It was a shocker hearing that 60 positions would be cut at the S-R, including as many as 27 from the editorial staff. What’s the mood been like in the newsroom?

The Omdougsman: Sadness and anger. Plus an intense burst of clarity.

Q: Clarity?

The Omdougsman: Yes. It’s become painfully clear why there’s a revolving door in the lobby.

Q: You have some lip on you, Omdougsman. How has a jerk like you managed to keep his job?

The Omdougsman: Much like Sarah Palin – I’m very adept at winning over my detractors with a coy wink.

Q: Come on. What’s the real answer?

The Omdougsman: If the suits think you’re crazy, they generally leave you alone.

Q: We hear the newspaper will be published next year in a more compact format. What does that mean?

The Omdougsman: Ever read a fortune cookie?

Q: Boy, you won’t need a lot of reporters and editors to put out a fortune cookie, will you?

The Omdougsman: You are very perceptive and will soon go on a long journey with a handsome stranger.

Q: Will the new, slimmed-down Spokesman-Review come with a new slogan?

The Omdougsman: “Size Doesn’t Matter. Honest!”

Q: Are there any reader advantages to a wimpier newspaper?

The Omdougsman: Less ink will rub off on your fingers.

Q: But seriously. Won’t all the layoffs amount to a significant drop in quality?

The Omdougsman: Not at all. We are still considered to be America’s best newspaper with a radio station in its newsroom.

Q: Er, aren’t you guys the only newspaper with a radio station in the newsroom?

The Omdougsman: You are very perceptive, and a wondrous opportunity is in store for you in the days ahead.

Q: By the way, how is that marriage between the newspaper and radio working out?

The Omdougsman: So good that we’re thinking of installing a telegraph operator so we can put out an edition for our aged Morse code readers.

Q: You people are desperate, aren’t you?

The Omdougsman: Like Larry Craig on a half-hour layover.

Q: The Spokesman-Review also has been on the forefront of giving high school students a chance to explore the world of journalism. What advice would you give young people who are considering going into your line of work?

The Omdougsman: Taking into account the viability of the newspaper industry, I can think of two words for the naïve tykes.

Q: And what might those two words be?

The Omdougsman: Seek help.

Q: Is the newspaper industry really in the tank?

The Omdougsman: That “Dirty Jobs” TV show won’t even touch us.

Q: The S-R is still putting out a lot of fascinating news stories. For example, did you read that story in Friday’s paper about Washington banning a procedure that has tiny fish nibbling dead skin off the feet of pedicure customers?

The Omdougsman: Naw, I’m too busy trying to avoid the piranhas swimming around here.

Q: Editor Steven A. Smith resigned his job in the wake of the layoffs. He left the paper Friday. Any parting words for him?

The Omdougsman: Yes. Steve did a lot of great things in the six years he was here. He oversaw the investigation that led to the recall of Spokane’s pervert mayor, Jim West. He championed newsroom innovations like webcasts and transparency. Of course, all those things paled next to his crowning achievement.

Q: What was that?

The Omdougsman: He kept those avaricious Avista execs off my ass.

Doug Clark is (was?) a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at