The Column That Never Was
The column that I was hired to write for a certain Queens weekly has been canceled before the first piece was even published. That piece, a critical look at the fall-out from Congressman Greg Meeks' support for CAFTA, did not appear in this past Thursday's issue, although an editorial lavishing praise on the Congressman for his championing of banks over people, was featured rather prominently.
I called to find out what happened, and was told the next day that Rep. Meeks had called the newspaper to complain about the previous post that appeared on this blarg. That's all, she wrote.
The managing editor - who hired me - explained over and over that "integrity" is really important to the paper, and that I had really crossed a line by posting the Congressman's voicemail message to me, without explaining that I had called him first. Of course, I explained that I hadn't called him, and that that's what made his personal phone call to me so noteworthy, and odd. She explained that she hadn't actually read the piece so much as glanced at it over the shoulder of the publisher, who was livid about the whole affair. (The publisher, it should be noted, was hectoring me about how labor's position on CAFTA was "illiberal" within seconds of my being hired and explaining my first column.) She also hadn't read the actual submitted column itself.
Again explaining how "ethics" were so important to this paper, she asked me if I understood their position. I said, well, no, I didn't, really, since nothing was misrepresented on my website or in the column (neither of which, again, she had read), to which she finally answered something along the lines of "well, I guess you're just not a good fit for this paper."
This, finally, was an answer I could accept. This is a paper that does not endorse candidates, that takes no strong positions on controversial matters (aside from that perennial controversy of curbing one's dog). This is a paper that wants opinion writers who have no strong opinions. That's me out, comrades.
I hold no ill will towards the paper, although I am annoyed at having been jerked around all summer. I would rather have been rejected from the start, so I could focus my energies on writing for a newspaper that has enough backbone to withstand an angry phone call from an amateurish Congressman, and genuinely wants to drive home to their readers three lanes of political traffic, instead of just the middle of the road.