Sunday, December 24, 2006

Midweeker Columns

While we're on a roll here - a bit like Paul the Apostle when he tells us he has nothing to boast about but then says there are quite a few things he could boast about, if he wanted to - I'll make a note about the Midweeker Columns that are also on the Net.

I wrote five and a half years of weekly columns (apart from the holiday period each year) about all manner of subjects. It was great having a free hand like that - the sort of benefit few writers probably have just to let their hair down and go for it. Sometimes having such a wide range is inhibiting, strangely, but in general something got written each week that was worth reading, and, in a few cases, worth forgetting. The column began when the previous columnist announced, rather out of the blue, that he was quitting. I rang up and - amazingly - got the job on the strength of a couple of hastily-written pieces that were eventually among the first published columns. It ended even more abruptly when I received a letter from the editor (a change from sending him one, I suppose) telling me that due to 'restructuring' (that wonderfully abstract word) my services were no longer required. I had one more column to write and in it told the readers that I'd been summarily dismissed - and amazingly, got away with it. I don't know the real reason for my dismissal, though I suspect it might have had something to do with the column I wrote (one of my occasional religion-focused ones) in which I said that in spite of their claims, the Mormons were not part of the wider Christian church.

It may have had nothing to do with that. It may have been that the editor felt the columns were getting tired. (Sometimes they were.) It may have been that I was employed by one editor and fired by his replacement. It may have been that they preferred to save $50 a week (or was it $30?) and use the space for advertising.

Certainly they did restructure the paper, quite some time later. It now has virtually nothing in the way of columns ( a longstanding humour columnist was also ditched about the same time) and, while it certainly looks at plenty of local issues, which is its brief, it's also full of pseudo-news: the sort of thing that's really an advertisement in disguise. Rather like Quazen.
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