When a New Times writer defected to the Arizona Republic, he failed to clean his desk thoroughly enough. Dave Walker cleared out last week, but he left behind his marching orders from Republic/Gazette executive editor John Oppedahl. Read em and weep.
THE FOLLOWING WILL BE PRINTED ON R/G LETTERHEAD;
delete these instructions. thanks, cj
March 1, 1994
To: David Walker
From: John Oppedahl
Re: Television column expectations
Welcome back to the Republic/Gazette. I know it has been nine long years since you counted yourself among the R&G family, but I want to be the first to tell you that we're tickled pink to have you back as our new columnist covering TELEVISION, that powerful and potentially wondrous locus of modern society.
David, you'll note that I am using the term "columnist," not "critic." We are encouraging all of our Arts-section commentators to drop the pejorative term "critic." Newspapers spend far too much time dispensing "bad news." Criticism is defined as "the act of criticizing, especially adversely," hence our own in-house redefinition. Let the muckrakers traffic in bad news in the A section. I want your column--and the entire Arts section--to be a reader-friendly "win-win" vehicle for our subscribers and the artists in our midst. Consequently, television productions unworthy of praise should not be worthy of mention in David Walker's column.
You also have surely noted that I am calling you "David." I know your byline at New Times was "Dave" Walker, but since we want to put that persona behind us (with one notable exception--more on that to follow), I think it would be best if you used the more formal "David" in your Republic writings.
Also, make certain you contact the R&G photo studio and make arrangements to sit for a portrait for your signature column logo. Because of your past reputation as a gag writer at New Times, I feel it would be best if your initial photo had a more "serious" cast to it. I'm not asking that you scowl or attempt to be intimidating, but I want your face to convey to readers that you are taking your new job VERY seriously. To that end, I think you should consider shaving your beard and mustache. It is not mandatory, just a request.
David, for the record, I must mention that the R&G maintains a dress code that requires the gentlemen to wear ties.
Regarding the aforementioned "other" persona, I really do like your suggestion that we save your "lighter" columnizing for the weekly Kids Page. Your idea of resurrecting your "Cap'n Dave" character and advising kids on "safe viewing" techniques will become a model that other newspapers will attempt to replicate. It also dovetails nicely with our "Saving Arizona's Children" theme. Your sample Kids Page column featuring the imaginary interview with "Barney the Dinosaur" was a work of genius that skillfully illuminated the redeeming traits of that much-maligned character. Other columns like this for "Cap'n Dave's TV Talk" should become a viable point of entry for us with parents and our younger demographic alike.
I am also enthusiastic about your proposal to launch your column with a series of profiles of local TV newscasters. As you know, our goal is to work in concert with all other media to make the Valley of the Sun the best it can be. By informing our readers about these fascinating, dedicated people, I also believe you will win many valuable sources in the local broadcasting community. (My suggestion is that you begin with Channel 10 news anchor June Thomson, whom I have the privilege of knowing well and who exemplifies the best in the genre. Believe me, behind that pretty, sculpted face, there's one tough cookie.)
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Regarding other issues we discussed: It is our corporate policy to encourage mental and physical fitness in our employees. Because your job by nature requires that you be sedentary much of the time, I will agree to pay for your membership in the Paradise Valley Golf Club. Just be certain to walk, not ride in golf carts, okay? My only other request is that when you do invite guests to the club, they be "TV people." (In my career as a journalist, I have gotten some of my best scoops on the links.)
However, your request for a satellite dish must be denied at this time. Frankly, we are not interested in what is airing on all those insignificant channels. Let us stay "mainstream."
We want this to be a wonderful experience for you, David, and for the Republic, too. The fact that you were our second choice for this job does not mean we value you less. Let me assure you that we take great pains to deal professionally and humanely with our employees' wants and needs.
With that in mind, David, I reluctantly agree to waive your urinalysis.
If you have any comments or questions regarding this memo, please do not hesitate to call me directly at 271-8132. I look forward to working with you. And, David, "Happy viewing!