Why Bill McClellan Matters

Bill McClellan, a columnist from another time.

This week, there will be no column by Bill McClellan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. None next week, either.

And maybe that's a good thing. We need to get used to his absence.

On Thursday, the union representing Post-Dispatch employees announced that McClellan was among nine staffers who'd volunteered to take a buyout, sparing the jobs of younger colleagues who'd been targeted for layoffs. So when McClellan's column returns on August 2, it will be just once a week -- and he'll be, officially, a freelancer.

What a heartbreaker.

McClellan was never one of those columnists people loved to hate. We, his readers, all genuinely liked him -- and believed that he spoke for us, and understood us. He was by far the biggest name in St. Louis media, but he never seemed like one of the powerful people. He was on our side.

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Bill McClellan Taking Severance Deal; Will Write One Column Per Week

McClellan captured on YouTube during an appearance on KETC's Donnybrook
Bill McClellan

UPDATED at 6:09 p.m. with names of other reporters leaving the paper.

Long-time Post-Dispatch scribe Bill McClellan is bowing out as a full-time columnist, but will continue writing one column per week, according to union president Jeff Gordon of the United Media Guild.

McClellan, five reporters, two editors and a paginator all voluntarily resigned and will collect severance pay based on how long they worked at St. Louis' only daily newspaper. Four reporters had been targeted for layoffs, Gordon says, but because these nine people volunteered, the four will be able to stay.

See also: Why Bill McClellan Matters

Other departees include reporters Michael Sorkin, Margaret Gillerman, Stephan Thomas, Kenny Roberts, Susan Weich and Bob Kelly.

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How the Post-Dispatch Shamed a Possible Rape Victim -- and Embarrassed Itself

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/Regan76
A night of heavy drinking turned into a nightmare for a Jefferson City lobbyist -- thanks in part to the Post-Dispatch's A-1 report Friday.

Editor's note: We updated this story at 5 p.m. on June 22. Scroll to the bottom for the latest.

The woman called Jefferson City police at 8 a.m. on April 9 to say that she was worried she'd been sexually assaulted the night before. She couldn't remember where she'd been most of the evening -- and not only did her wrist hurt, but her clothes were both muddy and bloody. Police took her to the hospital and compiled evidence for a rape kit.

Two months later, on June 19, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran her photo on its front page. The accompanying story listed all the alcohol she'd consumed the night before -- with details including the size of various bar tabs and the specific drinks (wine, vodka Red Bull, Jagerbombs) she'd paid for. It also named the man she'd previously been in a sexual relationship with, even though he was not suspected of any wrongdoing and wasn't even present for the night's festivities.

It published her name and her job (a lobbyist at the time she filed the police report, she's now in public relations) and said she'd declined to be interviewed.

And then, in classic daily newspaper fashion, it attempted to make the story about something bigger, something important.

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Martin Duggan Was Always Wrong, and Always a Friend: RFT Founder Ray Hartmann

Categories: Media, Obituaries

Courtesy of the Nine Network of Public Media
Martin Duggan, provocateur.
The most obvious legacy bequeathed to St. Louis by the great Martin Duggan, who died yesterday at 93, is Donnybrook -- that show on KETC Channel 9 that looks like a group of old people sitting around a table yelling at each other.

But if you were a kid growing up in St. Louis in the 23 years that Duggan hosted Donnybrook and tussled with his guests over current events, all you had to do was see their expressions and hear their tone to understand: This stuff matters. It was an implicit civics lesson on what to care about and how to disagree with the moron next to you.

Few disagreed more publicly and often with Duggan than Riverfront Times founder Ray Hartmann, who we caught up with yesterday.

Riverfront Times: Duggan had some vivid personalities to manage over the years: You, Bill McClellan, Mark Vittert, Charlie Brennan, Alvin Reed, Wendy Wiese. How did he steer the ship?

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RFT Seeks Web-Savvy Freelance Editor for 6-Week Position

Categories: Arts, Media

Photo by Corey Woodruff
Come assist us with our coverage of the city's food and drink scene.
The Riverfront Times has a summer opening for a freelance editor to assist with its online food coverage and overall web presence. The position is temporary -- we're looking for someone to help out for approximately six weeks from mid-July to late August to cover an editor's maternity leave.

The ideal candidate will be a strong writer and quick editor who knows how to craft a story that will pop online. He or she should have some familiarity with St. Louis' food and cocktail scene, be comfortable using Facebook and Twitter and be prepared to learn the paper's incredibly clunky blogging software. The ability to take your own photographs, upload them, and crop them is essential.

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Epic Reel of Vintage St. Louis News Outtakes Is Like Anchorman, Only Real

Eat your heart out, Ron Burgundy.

"First, bend over, grab your knees, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye."

And with that, former Channel 4 weatherman Mike Fenwick kicks off what is surely the most bizarre and wonderful peek into the pastel-and-plaid world of St. Louis broadcast news in the 1970s and 1980s. The clip of Fenwick telling his viewers to inspect their posterior Doppler readings comes courtesy of YouTube user St. Louis Flashback, a self-described St. Louis historian who posted two jaw-dropping videos over the weekend.

Edited with an insider's glee, the two-part "St.Louis Local TV News Bloopers -- 1970s-80s" actually features only a few clips of the kind of news bloopers one would usually find on YouTube. Instead, most of the 50-plus minutes of footage reveals the behind-the-scenes antics and obscenity-filled rivalries between the most trusted faces in St. Louis news -- including well-known anchors Elliott Davis and Larry Conners.

"St. Louis Flashback" didn't want to give his real name, but told us, "I collect these things -- anything from local TV, movie theaters and KXOK radio. I don't give out names or how I got the items." He adds, "I know people people who have worked in all media since the '60s."

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Savage Love Is Returning to Riverfront Times This Week

Categories: Media, Sex

Tell anyone in St. Louis that you work at the Riverfront Times, and they'll generally have one of two responses.

One, they want to know what it's like working with Ray Hartmann.

Or, two, they want to tell you that the RFT sucks for no longer carrying Savage Love.

Sometimes they'll even give you both replies. That's when you know you've got a live wire.

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Riverfront Times Seeks Summer Interns

Categories: Media

Could you see your byline in this newspaper? If so, you might want to consider applying for a summer internship.
We're looking for a few good interns.

The Riverfront Times is seeking motivated young writers and photographers interested in food, news, the arts and/or music to join our team for a few months this summer. You'll work closely with top editors to notch bylines and photo credits on our website and in our print edition -- no busy work and no boring clerical stuff.

Successful candidates won't necessarily be journalism majors, but you should be able to show us a few writing samples that demonstrate a gift for language and the ability to ask impertinent questions of strangers. We prefer current college students who can earn course credit for their time here, but we'll work with top candidates regardless of their circumstances.

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Six Laid Off at Post-Dispatch, Buyouts in the Newsroom Next? [UPDATE]

Categories: Media

Google Street View

Update: Gordon tells us that buyouts or voluntary layoffs will not happen in the newsroom after all. More after the jump.

Last week, six employees in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ad department were laid off. Daily RFT heard from multiple sources that buyouts for the editorial staff are likely to be offered in the coming days or weeks.

However, P-D spokeswoman Tracy Rouch released this statement which at most contradicts those rumors or at least tiptoes around them: "St. Louis Post-Dispatch had a work force reduction on Thursday, March 26 of six positions from Advertising and Information Technology. We are not offering buyouts to any Post-Dispatch employee at this time."

Jeff Gordon, president of the United Media Guild and a long-time sportswriter for the paper, says while that statement is technically true, conversations have begun around the newsroom.

"Whether the company decides to do it or not, we don't know," he says. "I think the discussion is real, but we don't know the outcome."

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Riverfront Times Sold, Is Leaving One Direction

Categories: Media

Oh, hello there, dear reader. Pull up a seat. Your mom and I have something to tell you.

We're sold! As of today, Riverfront Times is now owned by Euclid Media Group, based in Cleveland, and we've hired Sarah Fenske (our onetime managing editor) to take the helm as our editor in chief. This means all kinds of exciting things that we can't get into now, but rest assured, big things are on the way.

Check out the full press release after the jump.

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