I’ve never quite known exactly what James Lileks does, but I’ve often been amused or entertained by how he does it. I know he’s a columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and he’s done some very funny and innovative web and blog-like things for years on a site called The Bleat.
So I don’t know exactly what it means when he says his column has been killed and that he’s going to be “developing new content, both video and audio, as well as blogging throughout the day in a new, improved, evolving Bleat!” His post sounds like he doesn’t like a new assignment from the paper — but that “union rules” may be precluding him from writing clearly just exactly what his plans are. Frankly, I don’t follow his writing enough to be able to parse it enough to understand where he is in deciding what he’ll be doing in the future.
“I donâ€™t want to write about the Internet. I want to write on the Internet. Iâ€™d rather develop content than report about content developers. Itâ€™s that simple, and itâ€™s also a matter of recognizing my failings: I am not Biff Deadline, Ace Reporter. I can do long stories with lots of color, all aslosh with subjective opinions, but writing straight news – clearly, simply, briskly – is a skill I lack, and I take off my hat to those who’ve mastered that discipline.
Update: With the help of Roger Abramson (see comments), I’ve been able to reread and decipher the post a bit more to catch his drift — that Lileks is saying he’s been demoted and will no longer be a columnist.
Update II: Quote of the day from Dave Barry who is dumbfounded that the paper could demote Lileks from his column so that he can write general assignment articles: “This is like the Miami Heat deciding to relieve Dwyane Wade of his basketball-playing obligations so he can keep stats.”
Final Update: Apparently, Lileks isn’t the only Star-Trib employee who received news of an employment change as, “The Star Tribune announced plans Monday to reduce its workforce by about 145 employees across the company.”