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Doug Clark: Omdougsman a constant amid change

MONDAY, JAN. 5, 2009, 5:04 P.M.

The Spokesman-Review is in the midst of yet another makeover, the 146th by current calculations.

You know what that means. Yep. It’s time for an installment of The Omdougsman.

Not to be confused with the official “omdudsman,” the Omdougsman still has all his teeth and is not afraid to chomp into your pesky reader concerns about life, journalism and the state of the newspaper.

Q – Hey, Omdougsman. What’s black and white and read faster than a three-minute egg?

The Omdougsman – Please. We’re not going to begin this with a cheap shot about the size of the Monday paper.

Q – Okay. You win. But can you say anything about the Monday paper?

The Omdougsman – Yes. For the remainder of this godforsaken winter, the “Getting There” column will be called “Give up! You Can’t Get There.”

Q – So what’s the latest on that expensive radio broadcast booth that was built in the newsroom?

The Omdougsman – You really like pouring sulfuric acid into open wounds, don’t you?

Q – As I recall, the much ballyhooed news talk show was cancelled and…

The Omdougsman – Is there a question here, or are you just trying to yank my chain?

Q - I’m trying to ask what good is having a radio broadcast booth in the newsroom?

The Omdougsman – For your information, one of the reporters who survived last fall’s layoffs came up with the answer.

Q – And that is?

The Omdougsman – We’re turning the radio booth into a newsroom barbershop.

Q – Er, what will that accomplish?

The Omdougsman – Unlike the entire radio fiasco, a barbershop may actually make a few bucks.

Q – So when does the hair cutting start?

The Omdougsman – Just as soon as we can find a used barber chair on craigslist.

Q – Craigslist?

The Omdougsman – Oops. Sorry. I meant The Spokesman-Review classifieds.

Q – Speaking of changes, I see the editor announced that, beginning today, the newspaper will no longer publish the full page of daily stock quotes for hundreds of companies on the Nasdaq, New York Stock Exchange and “1,200 of the most heavily traded mutuals.”

The Omdougsman – Your information is spot on, sir.

Q - Is this to free up space for more stories?

The Omdougsman – Naw. We discovered shortly after the market crash that exposing our stockholding readers day after day to such a volume of negative economic numbers was sending many of them into cardiac arrest.

Q – So you’re cutting the stocks out of compassion?

The Omdougsman – That’s right. Compassion for our circulation numbers. We can’t afford to have any readers die on us.

Q – I see that broadcasting your morning news meeting over the Internet has been suspended. How come?

The Omdougsman – The two people who were tuning in went back to watching “The Price is Right.”

Q – But I thought the big editorial fad down there was transparency. What happened to that obsession about being transparent?

The Omdougsman – We decided to go back to a more traditional journalistic obsession.

Q – What’s that?

The Omdougsman – We’re the professionals. How we do our job is none of your beeswax.

Q – A bit testy, aren’t you?

The Omdougsman – I’m sick of journalists who want to play social worker.

Q – What do you think of Jim Kershner, Jim Camden and Bert Caldwell getting their columns back?

The Omdougsman – About damn time. All of those columns have loyal followings.

Q – But why pull them in the first place?

The Omdougsman – Shooting ourselves in the foot is what the newspaper industry does best.

Q – What do you say to the critics who want to pull the Omdougsman’s plug?

The Omdougsman – Two things.

Q – What’s that?

The Omdougsman – Take a number. Get in line.

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


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