I read the news today, oh boy.
Eric Snider, longtime writer and music columnist at Creative Loafing in Tampa, has been let go. I learned about it this morning on St. Petersburg Times TV/media critic Eric Deggans' blog. Read the post here.
What a travesty.
Snider is one of the area's most talented and most accomplished arts & entertainment writers. He's been covering music, and covering it well, longer than anyone else in the Tampa Bay area.
Unlike some other pop music critics, Eric has always gone beyond the pop ju dour and celebrity nonsense to dig into music that's more meaningful and has a longer shelf life than the hits of the day.
And, like the best critics, he has a wide range of interests - not just altrock, not just pop, not just hip-hop, not just classic rock, but all of those and more, including jazz, blues, Americana and world music.
That's an appropriate approach to music coverage. Why? Because readers who care about music, particularly the 40+ readers (you know, the ones who still buy newspapers?) want to read about more than the Jonas Brothers or Kanye West.
Eric's eclectic, insightful approach has been true of his writing going all the way back to his days at the old Music Magazine (where I first encountered Eric) and through his work as the pop music critic at the St. Pete Times and CL. He's also done some great features for Jazziz magazine.
First film critic Lance Goldenberg, then music writer Wade Tatangelo and now Eric. ???
If there's a strategy afoot here, it has nothing to do with retaining top talent and providing quality content to readers.
It's disappointing that newspapers (daily and weekly papers) increasingly are placing such a low priority on hiring and keeping journalists with valuable writing and reporting experience, and deep knowledge of their beats.
Yes, there are short-term savings to be had, when those positions aren't filled or are filled by less experienced, less capable journalists who can be had on the cheap.
For the long term, though, this upside-down staffing approach hurts readers, and, ultimately, newspapers. It results in publications that are more generic, more devoid of substance, and less relevant to the lives of consumers.
Fewer readers, and the advertisers go away. No advertisers, and the papers sink.
Why is all this so hard for newspaper publishers and managers to grasp?
CL's apologies, excuses, reasons, etc., related to the firing are available here. It was "an extremely painful decision," you know?