Saturday, May 16, 2009

The apotheosis of the columnist

There they are, in all their four-color glory, in the gutter of the daily, and then in a double-truck in Friday's edition.

"Your Favorite Hartford Courant Columnists!"

Well, not mine, but that's another story. Give me Rick, Susan, Roger and Colin.

My first reaction was a resounding, "oh, for god's sake, no." Good writers have no place on television.

I figured it was the sound bite sizification of the weekly column. After all, new Courant publisher Richard Graziano comes from the TV side. He was manager of Fox 61, and a top ad salesman. And he bought in Jeff Levine, a veteran of some Florida Tribune daily/TV station operations. And already, the Courant website seems to have taken a new focus on celebrity, nude beauty models and Connecticut's favorite animals.

So, I asked myself, will success spoil Eric Danton?

Will the TV shows really let these wonderful writers, who, while not faceless, have been 2D thumbnails to us for so long?

And then I thought, well, maybe the writers will have a positive effect on the superficial TV news shows. Maybe they will bring some gravitas to newscasts which threaten to float away with their own fluff factor. Maybe the everyday, everyshape, common appeal of writers who never intended to be talking heads will tear us away from the hairdos, high cheekbones, designer suits and ever-thickening pancake of the anchors.

Maybe TV audiences will be exposed to some real thinking.

After all, we know TV news shows have stolen headlines and copy from dailies for years, and now it's time the faceless writers of those headlines and stories got the credit they deserve.

Or maybe, and sadly, the news shows will only allow these interesting columnists to say half of what's on their minds.

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