That's the Way the Strib Crumbles
STAR TRIBUNE EDITOR Tim McGuire must have been thinking of Off Beat last week when he fired off a memo asking employees to trim their expenses. How else to explain the stranger-than-fiction announcement that "effective right now, we will go very light on catering (no more cookies)?" Strib sources tell Off Beat that McGuire has used treats in the past to entice staffers into his famous come-one, come-all "vision" talks; now he presumably plans to ply them with fresh tap water. But we digress. "This is a belt-tightening memo," McGuire's two-page edict began. "We haven't had one of those for quite a while, but the advertising business is not as strong as we budgeted and company expenses have, in some months, been greater than we budgeted." The cutbacks, he promised, will not affect newsgathering efforts such as the Strib's recent Where-in-the-World-Is-Dimitrius Underwood extravaganza: "[Reporters] Paul McEnroe, Chris Ison, Randy Furst and Kent Youngblood...will attest that there was no skimping on travel or other expenses associated with bringing a wonderful story home." The cookie crackdown comes on the heels of a strong second-quarter performance by the Strib's corporate parent, the McClatchy Company. Less than a month ago, McClatchy reported record second-quarter earnings of $22 million, up 32 percent from the previous year--an increase that came courtesy of "higher advertising revenues and lower newsprint costs," according to the firm's press release. What gives? "We work against a budget and a plan, and if we miss on revenues, we want to attack on expenses to make the year," responds Strib flack Frank Parisi, adding, "If I knew there were cookies in McGuire's office, I'd spend more time there." The buzz around the newsroom is that the paper is simply suffering the fallout from overly optimistic projections cooked up last year. Still, as one reporter points out, McGuire's communiqué did lack a measure of sophistication: "Somehow I don't think IBM sends out memos about cookies."
We Schlocked the World!
JUST LAST WEEK Gov. Jesse Ventura told the editorial board of Rochester's Post-Bulletin that he plans to shy away from national media attention...for a full six months. Not a bad idea. A brief item in Entertainment Weekly hyping his appearance as a "guest referee" at Sunday night's Chef Boyardee-sponsored World Wrestling Federation circus at the Target Center featured a photo of a boa-clad Ventura under the caption "Hail to the Cheese." Ventura drew thunderous applause when he lumbered into the ring during the pay-per-view event--though perhaps not as much as crowd favorite The Rock, who'd gone up against Mr. Ass in the preceding match. After offering a passing dis to "the meedeeyah," the First Ref got down to business, which in this case involved a lot of stern finger-pointing, cross facial expressions, and broad pantomime aimed in the direction of the participants in the three-way match: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Triple H, and Mankind. Though he did eject interloper Shane McMahon from the ring, to Off Beat's eyes Ventura's black hat-turned-sheriff routine was strikingly anticlimactic: After the match had "officially" ended and Ventura and victor Mankind had departed, a melee continued in the ring, between the remaining combatants. A half-dozen refs materialized, feigning fruitless attempts to stop the madness. Who could bring "law and order" to the chaos? "Jesse, Jesse!" chanted the crowd. But Ventura, it seemed, had pointed his last finger of the night. There was slightly more drama in the press box, where everyone wondered aloud about the likelihood of a post-show press conference (there was none). For Off Beat, the highlight of the evening came during the match between Big Boss Man and Al Snow. The action spilled out of the ring, into the bowels of the Target Center, outside onto Seventh Street, and, ultimately, into the Blues Alley bar--where Snow grabbed a full City Pages rack and used it to clobber his adversary. Ah, fame.
No Euphemisms Here
WHILE WE'RE ON the subject, the Star Tribune's ample coverage of the gubernatorial return to the ring included uncharacteristically uncensored accounts of his language. The Newspaper of the Twin Cities' decision to let readers make what they wished of the governor's salty tongue was refreshing, if a tad surprising. In a Saturday story about the new Jesse Ventura suite at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada, the Strib took a more genteel route. Picking up a tidbit from the Salon Web site (www.salon.com), the paper obliquely referred to the brothel's owner having posted "a sign saying Ventura had been there." According to the Salon story, the sign says "Jesse Ventura got laid here."
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