To the columnist at my old paper who won’t date feminists
So. Hi. You don’t know me, but I’m a former reporter at the St. Joseph News-Press, the paper you work at. Obviously I now know you, or a bit about you, from your column in the paper's women's magazine about why you won’t date feminists.
I saw it’s among your top stories and was trending on Twitter. As a good friend once pointed out, hate clicks count the same as like clicks, so congrats?
I started as a features writer at the News-Press in January 2003. It was my first journalism job. I got married while I worked there, had my first child and, more relevant to this situation, learned how to be a journalist there.
I also saw some shenanigans. Have you heard the story of the embarrassing “Hunks in Trunks” feature that once included a registered sex-offender? At the time, the paper's women's magazine was run by the advertising department. But the public didn’t really know that, right? So a spread with shirtless men, including that guy, made us all look like sloppy fools.
After a few years, the magazine became an editorial product, and newsroom staffers, including me, wrote for it. I continued for a few years as a freelancer. The magazine has always presented a man’s perspective in its pages (hi, Alonzo!), but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one quite like yours.
So here’s what I thought when I saw this last night, posted on Facebook by a friend who lives in New York, nonetheless: Why did the News-Press publish this?
It’s fair to expect takes like yours. They’re everywhere. And you have every right to express it. But it's not something you usually see from a 171-year-old newspaper.
I spoke with Steve Booher, the News-Press' news director, about your work. Booher, whom I worked with, too, didn't see your column before it was published and heard about the stir it caused Thursday when someone stopped by his office to fill him in. But since he's speaking on behalf of the News-Press, I asked what he would have changed.
"I probably would have had him rewrite it," he said.
I asked how people in the newsroom felt about it.
"There's a lot of people that disagree and disagree vehemently with what Dave wrote," Booher said.
He also defended your First Amendment rights and pointed out that you're a 25-year-old single guy. Booher, as a father and grandfather, has a very different perspective, he told me.
After I left St. Joseph, I learned how rare it was to live in a city where people opened their doors and let you inside. In the 13 years since I became a reporter there, I’ve never been as lucky to work at a place like the News-Press in a place like St. Joe (although, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t miss the winters. Or the giant pork tenderloins).
So, here’s my question for you: What now? I can see a good chunk of the internet hates you. But what about the newsroom? What about the community you work in?
Virality ends. Twitter moves on. Even Google can forget. But a community remembers.
Booher told me that you will keep writing your column.
"Maybe we will look toward less-explosive issues for him to write about," he said.
He's hopeful you'll be a little bit wiser and a little bit more judicious with your words. I am, too. Not for your sake, though, but for a city that deserves much better.