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December 16, 2006
Not Our Problem Any More

Anders Gyllenhaal will leave the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in March to take the reins at the Miami Herald, another McClatchy-owned newspaper. His departure ends a rocky period of the local paper in which his editorial guidance appeared to include the willful ignorance of two major stories regarding local Muslims:

Anders Gyllenhaal, editor and senior vice president for news at the Star Tribune, is leaving the job he has held for nearly five years to become executive editor of the Miami Herald.

Gyllenhaal, 55, will replace Tom Fiedler in Miami starting in March. Both the Star Tribune and the Herald are owned by the McClatchy Co. The Herald, Florida's second-largest newspaper, was acquired by McClatchy earlier this year as part of its $6 billion purchase of Knight Ridder Inc. ...

Gyllenhaal has supervised a newsroom of 380 people and also has been responsible for news content for the 15th-largest newspaper in the country. The Star Tribune has a daily circulation of 358,887 and a Sunday circulation of 596,333. Gyllenhaal serves on the board of the Pulitzer Prize and has been a longtime advocate for press freedom, serving at one time as chairman of the Freedom of Information Committee for the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

I can't say that I'm sorry to see him go. The Strib has some fine reporters, but the paper's editorial direction leaves much to be desired. Gyllenhaal's editorial control of the news at the Strib has always been contentious, but it became the focus of two stories over the past few months.

The Strib refused to report in depth on the political history of Keith Ellison, the Nation of Islam acolyte who ran for public office just eight years ago, campaigning for less police involvement on the streets of Minneapolis in favor of having the NOI provide patrols instead. Rather than give Minneapolis readers a serious accounting of Ellison's involvement in this virulent anti-Semitic group, it mouthed the Ellison campaign's denials that their candidate ever had anything to do with the NOI after the Million Man March in 1995 despite the ample public record.

It fell to Scott Johnson at Power Line to do the research, investigation, and reporting that Gyllenhaal refused to perform. Even worse, they decided to run a smear campaign on Ellison's Republican opponent, Alan Fine, by digging up unsubstantiated charges of spousal abuse by his ex-wife. They ran information completely out of context and refused to include highly exculpatory information, later claiming that space limitations forced them to drop all of the facts that showed the charges to be bogus.

Following closely on the heels of that editorial disaster, the paper again refused to do much investigation in the case of the Flying Imams. Again, Gyllenhaal's editorial direction led the Strib to mindlessly repeat the charges leveled by the imams against US Air without making much of an effort to report the actions that led to US Air's refusal to allow them to fly. Instead, opinion columnist Katherine Kersten has had to use her space to report all of the facts and context that should have been reported by the Strib's news desk.

And while the Strib brags about those circulation numbers, it once again does so while channeling George Orwell. Gyllenhaal lost them 4% on daily circ and 6% on Sunday circ over last year. That's a higher rate of decline than the national average, which the Strib fails to mention as well.

Gyllenhaal has proven himself one of these media executives that claims to support aggressive reporting, but in practice only uses it for politically correct purposes. His tenure here in Minneapolis cannot end quickly enough, and I send my condolences to Miami Herald readers who will now have to experience his agenda-driven journalism. Unfortunately, knowing the Strib and its management, we will probably not get anyone better than Gyllenhaal as a replacement. (via future victim Brant at SWLiP)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 16, 2006 7:00 AM

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