To the Editor:
As a reader of the Flyer, I'd like to mention how much I enjoyed reading John Branston's fictional sidebar [to the cover story] on Angus McEachran ("Paper Lion," August 29th issue). As one who dabbles in current events at The Commercial Appeal, I appreciate reading historical revisionism from time to time, but this is the best I've read in a long time!
To say Angus keeps David Waters or anyone else who offers opinions on a short leash is truly hysterical. I deal with him every day and can personally testify that Angus operates under the long-leash theory that if one is so convinced or so foolish to say something that he, Angus, believes is stupid, then they have every right to sign it and show everyone how lame-brained they are! That's not to say he won't stop something that is racist, sexist, or anti-Semitic. But he does believe that opinions of all kinds should be offered to readers, whether he agrees with them or not.
Having worked for larger newspapers in Philadelphia, New York, and Detroit, as well as several smaller ones in Florida, I have dealt with many editors. It's sad to say that most are pretenders who are afraid of their own shadow. Don't upset the readers, they say. Don't upset the advertisers, they say. Not Angus. If some powerful advertiser or businessman should even try to interfere with good journalism, he'll tell them to kiss his ass.
Which brings us to the statement that he is resting on his laurels. This fire-breathing Celt would rather die! Anyone who has seen him in a meeting when he's going after someone, anyone who has broken the public trust and treated us like saps is a sight to behold. He is in his element. His eyes bulge and his face turns red. He wants justice! This is what made so many stories like daycare so good. Quite frankly, Angus is the best editor in America.
I hesitate to submit this letter. Not because I care what the professional gripe artists will say but because Angus will hold it against me. He hates a kiss-ass and can smell one a mile away. He enjoys being cursed and maligned. It means he's doing his job. But if Shirley Downing can courageously risk her job by saying something nice about the S.O.B., then so can I. I just want the truth to be told. In fact, it occurs to me that, by using reverse psychology, Branston cleverly hopes to get a job from Angus by saying all that nasty stuff!
I feel cheated that I only got four years to work for him. I better shut up now because he's still the editor until the end of the year. But when he's gone, I'll sure miss him.
And thanks, John, for the good laugh.
The Commercial Appeal
To the Editor:
Thanks to John Branston for mentioning me as one of the "good" reporters and editors who left The Commercial Appeal during Angus McEachran's tenure. I didn't leave because of Angus. I left because I had a family and wanted to make more money. To buy a house. To pay off credit-card bills. To pay for the kids' college. You know, the usual stuff.
I also left because I hoped a change in scenery would help recharge my batteries and allow me to do better work. I was right: Today, I get paid a lot more to do things I couldn't do at the CA.
Yes, I thought Angus should have been more engaged as a newsroom manager and that would have made it a more collegial and professional place to work. But I don't really know what Angus did to earn his pay, and I didn't interact much with him. I have to believe that Angus, like the branch manager of any chain newspaper, doesn't enjoy much flexibility. It's my impression that Scripps executives in Cincinnati, not Angus, make the overall decisions on how people are compensated in Memphis, just as they dictate major editorial-page positions.
That said, I never doubted that Angus was a great newsman. He recognized and reveled in good stories -- and encouraged reporters to pursue them.
To the Editor:
The late Memphis mayor Henry Loeb referred to The Commercial Appeal as the "newspaper you can smell on your doorstep." Now, Angus McEachran is retiring after 10 years. Actually, he has missed his true calling: McEachran could have been chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party, he was so biased and partisan in endorsing candidates for public office.
The CA has some objective reporters, but a new nonpartisan editor is badly needed.
Chas. S. Peete
Sinner, Not a Winner
To the Editor:
Jackson Baker quoted former President Clinton (Politics, August 29th issue) as saying, "They [Republicans in Congress] spent $70 million trying to prove I was a winner. And you could have told them that in the first place!"
I thought that Clinton said that Congress spent $70 million trying to prove that he was a sinner, and he could have told them that in the first place.
Makes a lot more sense, wouldn't you say?
Dot Truitt Walk
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