The Guild stalwart can't help it; she's one of the bossesO
NCE YOU LEARN the words to “Solidarity Forever,” she wrote, it's hard to get them out of your head. With that, our beloved Stephanie Salter concluded yet another column. But not in San Francisco. Not since 2003.
Back home in Indiana, she wrote: “My heart is a union heart. My head remembers why unions ever formed and grew in this country.” It was her way of announcing the unthinkable. She had just resigned from the Newspaper Guild, her union at the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. She’s now in (shudder) management.
It’s been her newspaper since 2003. That was the year the Chronicle inexplicably dropped her column. Liberal, sensible and eloquent, she had enlivened the San Francisco paper’s once-moribund op-ed page for nearly three years. She came over to the morning paper when it was sold in 2000 to the Hearst Corp., which kept the Examiner staff but sold the nameplate to the Fangs.
Although then-publisher John Oppedahl called her “top talent” at the time of the merger, he killed her column three years later because it didn’t “resonate” with him. Oppedahl, who ranks just below Reg Murphy in the Gazoot Gazette Pantheon of Publisher Fizzles, was kicked out himself just six months later. (Oppedahl resonates these days as a glib “consultant” in Arizona, telling an association of editorial writers last year that they should have “a singular reputation in the community for fostering democracy’s debate.”)
It’s okay to laugh. ><
WHEN Stephanie was resonated off the op-ed page, democracy’s debate was fostered by hundreds of subscribers.
They shouted their dismay from the Fifth Street sidewalk in a futile protest of Oppedahl’s edict and the supine silence of Stephanie’s alleged friend, Phil Bronstein, then the Chronicle editor.
The newspaper's management bigwigs stared at the shouting Stephanie fans. The were overheard to say, fearlessly, they would not bend to pressure by demonstrators. Really. They said that. (Except for Phil, who was kicked downstairs, not one of them is still at the paper.)
Stephanie, relegated to feature writing, soon quit the Chronicle. She found someone to rent her home in Bernal Heights. Then she left for he banks of the Wabash far away, to Terre Haute, her home town, to help care for her dying father.
She stayed to take a job at the 34,000-circulation Star Tribune. After all, the Lyric Opera of Chicago is only a few hours away. ><I
N HER management job, as “assistant editor for opinion and commentary,” she also oversees the community and obituary desks. She writes editorials and two columns a week. Her opinions are not exactly commonplace in Community Media Holdings Inc., the empire that includes the Trib-Star. It’s a chain of more than 200 small-town dailies, mostly in the South and Southwest, with headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.
Although Indiana is a so-called red state where “Hoosier” is rarely coupled with “liberal,” Terre Haute is a blue-collar city of 60,000 with plenty of college students, Democrats and unions (it was the home town of Eugene Debs). Stephanie fits right in, but she misses the San Francisco Opera and, presumably, the opportunity to sing "Solidarity Forever." - Lynn Ludlow
The Geezer Gazoot