Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Connie Schultz: A post-PD career

STUART WARNER'S excellent piece in Cleveland Magazine on Columnist Connie Schultz's resignation from the Plain Dealer deserves your attention as a peek into the ways of modern newsroom culture. It never helps a newspaper to lose a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, but Connie's workaday world was never simple since her husband, Sherrod Brown, was elected to the U. S. Senate in 2006. A brassy liberal with a strong social conscience who independently fashioned her own reporting career, she was immediately branded as a shill for her husband by certain critics on the staff. Warner, her editor and friend at the PD, described the growing tension as "awkward". It reached the point where she decided to leave.

Too bad. God knows, the conservative side of the PD writers is quite visible, beginning with an op-ed columnist/editor whose political assumptions would even make some Tea Partiers blush. (But he doesn't have a spouse in the Senate.)

Actually, Schultz was having a problem with an editor before Brown , a congressman, went to the Senate. She once told me that the only thing that kept her from being fired by the former editor was the announcement that she had won a Pulitzer Prize. That would have been an embarrassment for the paper, but most newspaper editors are not known for their social skills.

The messy situation that Schultz has left behind by choosing to clear out her desk will in no way impede her career as an author and national columnist; that's what grit and talent will do for anybody in this business. Connie has both, with plenty to spare.

Her epilogue to her colleagues and friends said in part:

"In recent weeks, it has become painfully clear that my independence, professionally and personally, is possible only if I'm no longer writing for the newspaper that covers my husband's senate race on a daily basis. It's time for me to move on."

As for her 18-year experience at the PD, she described it in three words: "What a ride".

That's vintage Connie Schultz.


David Hess said...

How about a Schultz-for-Congress campaign?

Grumpy Abe said...

I'm good on that...