Attention, Isthmus readers, Dean Robbins has left the masthead. Robbins, longtime Isthmus arts and entertainment editor, has taken a six-month leave from his newspaper duties to work with his wife in her editing business. His position is being filled by current features editor Kenneth Burns.
Robbins is helping Isthmus cope with some difficult times by helping us reduce editorial costs. As the astute reader is aware, these are tough times for everyone in the media business, especially newspapers. Not only is the industry readjusting to the presence of the Internet and the changes it is bringing to the media mix, but real estate and employment, categories responsible for many of the advertising dollars that support publications and stations, are themselves undergoing severe retrenchment.
We, like just about everyone else in our business, have had to take a close look at expenses at a time when revenues have faltered. We've instituted a plethora of cost-saving measures across the company, from renegotiating insurance coverage to cutting back on subsidized parking. But more still needs to be done, and we are doing it.
Isthmus has for years carried an outsized editorial cost ratio. The present conditions will not allow us to sustain that, so we must reduce some of our editorial capacity. As a result we will be saying goodbye to a couple of staffers in the coming months.
Executive editor Marc Eisen will be leaving our employ at the end of August. Eisen voluntarily stepped down as editor a year ago to devote more time to his favored writing projects. He will now have more time to write as he pursues a freelance career. He began working for Isthmus in 1978. In 1986 he went to The Capital Times. He returned as editor two years later. Upon his departure he will have logged 20 years in his second stint with the paper.
Leaving at the end of September will be staff writer Tom Laskin. He is wrapping up 18 years with Isthmus, having penned the bulk of our local music coverage during that period. He has also dabbled in food and local- development journalism. A former working musician (Appliances-SFB), Laskin also possesses master's degrees in both English and library and information sciences.
These departures were not pleasant decisions to make and we do not relish saying goodbye to these folks. We hope to work with them again in the future. Change can be and, in this instance, is hard. But the consequences of not changing, of not responding to the challenges of the business climate, would ultimately be harder. Isthmus is making the hard decisions and will be around for a long, long time.