Writing this letter is painful, as I consider John Nichols, associate editor of The Capital Times, a friend and a mentor.
However, I concur with much of Bill Lueders' assessment of Nichols and the changes at The Capital Times ("A Tear for The Capital Times," 2/15/08). Lueders' characterization of Nichols' "incessant cheerfulness" as "a little more than obnoxious" may have been a bit over the top, but I understand his point.
Nichols has often warned of the dangers of corporate media and now seems to be trumpeting the changes brought about by just that media.
I am sure that the executive staff of The Capital Times would argue that they are not the corporate media. However, the progressive newspaper is exhibiting some of the very same characteristics - allegiance to stockholders rather than readers, a drastic reduction in staff, and a departure from the spirit, if not the letter, of William T. Evjue's stipulations.
I imagine that Nichols can write his own ticket, much more than his lesser-known colleagues. I am disappointed that he has not used his influence to speak on behalf of those colleagues who will be dismissed and those readers who will be disenfranchised by the move to the web.
Bill Lueders is correct when he says we shouldn't take lightly the demise of The Capital Times as a print daily. As a reader whose only access to the paper is online, I, too, hope they figure out how to make their new incarnation work.
Their website, which used to be as dull as dirt, has been a lot more interesting since the revamp, and I hope it stays that way, although I've noticed more mistakes on it. Shedding some copy editors will be no boon in that regard.
Having given my blood to the (affectionately termed) Pravda on the Prairie for three years on staff and another three as a freelancer, I find myself observing these changes as if a close family member had just been informed he has two weeks to live.
I would suggest with more certainty than ever that newspapers like The Capital Times that aspire to serve as the conscience of their communities should give up all the trappings and pretensions of for-profit entities and adopt the structures of nonprofit foundations.
Because working in the public trust is what The Capital Times has always tried hardest to do.
Paul Norton, Graylake, Ill.
Stone defeats Joyce
I wonder if Shirley MacLaine is available to channel the editor who wrote the 1948 headline in The Chicago Tribune: "Dewey Defeats Truman." I mean, just to see if he's the grandfather of Isthmus' own Jason Joyce.
Joyce is the one, after all, who wrote the less-than-prescient article "Another Stone-Cold Season," which appeared in your Jan. 26 edition. To be sure, Joyce had the "early returns" right: Coach Stone's Badgers were then 8-9 overall and 1-6 in the Big Ten. And he wondered aloud about the dire circumstances in which Stone might be offered another contract.
Perhaps, as he mused, "It might be because nobody really cares about women's basketball in Wisconsin."
Since then, the women Badgers have played as well as any team in the conference, andhave drawn very well at the Kohl Center.
So I respectfully disagree with Mr. Joyce in his assessment of coach Stone's future in the Badger program. Methinks that, were she offered another contract, it would be because lots of people care a great deal about women's basketball.
Dick Behling, Cottage Grove