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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


When Times Change

Jim Wolcott posted this up


I want to take up another point in the piece as someone who's read the NY Daily News since I first arrived in the city, buying the "Night Owl" edition at the newsstand in front of the former Belmore Cafeteria (made famous in Taxi Driver), to wit, this passage:

The News suffers from an acute identity problem, a true personality crisis. The Archie Bunker base in New York has either died or moved away and the real working-class New Yorker is likely to be black or Hispanic or Asian and quite often, born someplace else. The News is out of touch with this growing, churning middle class economic powerhouse--a look at its opinion pages is a window into just how clueless the paper is. The News doesn't get this new middle class, and its lead opinion voice--Pulitzer winner Michael Goodwin--is cartoonishly out of kilter, pitching his faux dese, dems, and dose "common man" pablum to mere ghosts in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

For me this is most sadly typified by the sports cartoons of Bill Gallo, which still extol the scruffy, toothless charwoman charms of Brooklyn bleacher bums, refer to the Mets as "Willie's kids," recount the legendary bouts of old prizefighters with stars spinning above their heads, and picture sports legends in heaven beaming down on today's athletes...a nostalgia that must seem Etruscan to anyone under the age of AARP membership. It wouldn't matter if the rest of the paper kept pace with the city's changing demographics, but Pete Hamill's dream of a tabloid daily that would reach the rising immigrant class and address their concerns seems further away than ever, the victim of bureaucratic inertia and Mort Zuckerman's hobnobbing elitism. (When Goodwin refers to Barack Obama as a "black rookie" in the column Watson cites ["That a black rookie has created a sensation is a sure sign of voters' hunger for somebody other than another Clinton"], it's borderline racist in its reductiveness.) As for women, forget it. From Zev Chafets to A. M. Rosenthal to Michael Goodwin to Mort Zuckerman to some others I could name, the Daily News practices a patriarchal condescension that's not so much out of date as non compos mentus. Wake up! Look out the window! Stop pandering to a past that everyone else in the five boroughs has left behind.

The News got a wake up call in the winter of 2005 during the Transit Strike. While White New York, now the minority, was engraged, the rest of New York was supportive of the union. Which shocked people. The borderline racist comments in the News started to backfire when someone realized, as anyone looking around the streets would, that the people who paid their bills were black and Latino.

When they depicted TWU leader Roger Toussaint as a caged animal, they crossed a line.

The News is likely to increase their transition from the dead world of Archie Bunker as they realize their economic survival depends on it. Mort Zuckerman is unlikely to make such changes until he gets smacked in the face.

The News was once the right wing paper and the Post the left. Until 1977, when Rupert Murdoch bought it. Suddenly, the News started tacking left slowly. But the paper, like a lot of institutions, are slow to realize that New York has changed and the people who run it are no longer the white middle class of the boroughs

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