Reader critic offers moving explanation for staying home
It’s of no concern to me whether Michael Miner writes from an office, from home (as I do) or from a Starbucks down the street. He can file his columns from the moon for all I care.
But I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read the Reader media critic’s explanation for deciding not to relocate with his colleagues to the publication’s new digs in the headquarters of Sun-Times Media at 350 North Orleans Street. “Nothing of mine is going over to the Sun-Times, and that includes me,” Miner wrote in a 1,500-word essay about himself. “I'll write from home (as several other Reader staff writers have long been doing) without my files.”
When reports first surfaced earlier this year that Wrapports LLC, the Sun-Times’ parent company, might buy the Reader, Miner scoffed at the idea. Labeling the scoop by Crain’s Chicago Business “flimsy,” he wrote: “We're a little surprised that the Sun-Times, not long out of bankruptcy itself, can afford to buy anybody. Maybe we should buy them first.”
It was typical of Miner’s attitude toward the Sun-Times, where he’d worked as a reporter in the 1970s. He was laid off when the Chicago Daily News folded and the two newspapers’ staffs were merged. (He was later asked back, but said he chose to leave because daily journalism had lost its appeal to him.) Once he became media critic at the Reader, he wrote frequently about his former employer. I won’t say Miner had an ax to grind, but during the years I worked at the Sun-Times, I thought he rarely gave us a break, especially considering that we were the underdogs battling the richer and more powerful Tribune.
Last May, when Wrapports announced it was buying the Reader, I ended my story by noting: "As relieved as Miner must feel that the Reader will survive and that he still has a job, it has to be galling to be back on the payroll of a newspaper company that fired him in 1978."
Au contraire, Miner insisted. “Feder misunderstands,” he wrote in response a few weeks later. “It was galling to be fired in 1978, when the Daily News folded and Field Enterprises combined the two staffs. . . . Is it galling to return to the employ of a company willing to pay me to bite the hand that feeds me? Not especially.”
It turns out that wasn’t Miner’s last word on the subject. Still insisting that he had “no real brief against the Reader's new owners,” he nevertheless fretted about running into “those people” at the coffee machine. (For the record, the Sun-Times long ago left the building it occupied at 401 North Wabash Avenue when Miner worked for the paper.)
“I don't want to work at the Sun-Times for reasons that go beyond the obvious conflicts. It's hard for me to say why,” he wrote the other day. “The idea of moving my desk to the Sun-Times immediately filled me with something akin to dread.”
In other words, Miner doesn’t mind working for the Sun-Times. He just doesn’t want to work at the Sun-Times.
Glad we’ve got that cleared up now.