One of my first bosses from the days when I still thought newspaper journalism (and rock 'n' roll) could change the world "left" his job last week.
For those of us who still care about newspapers or, at least, depend on them to get the scoop on local happening, this is another sign that the end is nearing for the print era.
For my former editor, Joe Pisani, I'm hoping he recognizes that this is the sign he has long waited for from Up Above that a better, saner lifestyle awaits him elsewhere on Earth and possibly in the Hereafter.
The May 4, 2008, article and the editorial in The Advocate of Stamford about Joe's departure makes it pretty clear (between the lines) how crappy life had become there since MediaNews Group Inc. bought it and Greenwich Time a few months ago. Staff reductions through layoffs and attrition. Budget cuts. Press deadlines moved up from 2 a.m. to as early as 11 p.m. -- this is why the papers no longer feature West Coast/late-night sports scores and run government meeting news a day late now.
Joe's penultimate column, appearing on his last day on May 3, clues you into what work had become to him at the end.
The last time I talked to Joe was about a month ago. I had stopped by The Advocate office's to drop off an opinion piece I wrote for the ViewPoint page. I tried to e-mail it, but the system in the new offices MediaNews had banished the newspaper was on the fritz.
In the span of 20 minutes, Joe -- a man who goes to Mass daily, a man once who gave me a bottle of Holy Water from the shire of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and a man who sends multiple prayer cards in his Christmas cards every year -- repeatedly used a word to describe the current situation at work that I never heard him utter in the 10 years I had worked for him.
It's the word, as you fellow fans of the movie "Bull Durham" know, that is guaranteed to get the umpire to throw you out of the game.
Then, after all the many conjugations and grammatical variations of the word were exhausted, Joe asked if I needed a job because something was probably open in Greenwich.
I asked him how much longer he was going to stick it out. Joe, known affectionately to the old composing room staff and night editors as The Eagle (his photo explains it all), had worked there in some capacity for 30+ years. The last of the Eaglettes (his four daughters) was in college. And his wife, Sandy, was still putting up with him to the best of my knowledge.
Joe said he planned to fight the good fight until they kicked him out. He felt it was his mission to change his new bosses' minds and bring the papers back to what they were and could really become.
"You gotta rally the troops, man. You gotta rally them to save these papers," he said to me.
So, Joe, this one's for you:
I am printing a copy of Joe's May 3 column. I am mailing it along with a bow tie, Joe's signature neck wear, to George Irish, president of Hearst Corp. Newspapers, 959 8th Ave., New York, NY, 10019-3737
If you can't afford the tie or the postage, e-mail him copy of the column at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line, write: "FIRE NEWSMEDIA: Save The Advocate/Greenwich Time." If you can, as include any NewsMedia gripes, quality of local journalism concerns you have.
Or just call him at 212-649-2000. Leave a message. He'll get right back to you, I'm sure.
If you care about The Advocate and Greenwich Time, newspapers, local journalism or just the fact that corporate America is screwing over the little guy again (and that includes readers of The Advocate and Greenwich Time as well as the papers' staff), please join me.