Someone crank up the Dion: "Anybody here seen my old friend Jon? Can you tell me where he's gone?"

Jon Talton on the way out at the Arizona Republic: Blame the Information Center?

Sadly, it seems the Arizona Republic's massive reorganization, which I wrote about back in January, into an online Information Center that also happens to put out a daily paper, has claimed a victim of sorts: columnist Jon Talton, one of the only reasons worth reading the Repugnant these days, if you don't count Richard Ruelas. Both Ruelas and Talton actually have something to say and are not just spinning fluff like some of the others on the Repugnant's payroll. I hate to use the Al Gore cliche, but Talton often writes about inconvenient truths, which is probably too much for the blander-than-bland Gannett McPaper. So he'll be gone in a couple of weeks. Here's what Talton had to say after I e-mailed him:

This was sent out to some friends, and is all I am prepared to say until I leave:

Dear Friends,

This is a note to tell you that I'll be leaving the Arizona Republic within the next two weeks. My column is being eliminated as part of the reorganization from a print and online newspaper to an Information Center. I chose not to accept other opportunities that the company offered. As a result, Susan and I will be leaving Phoenix soon to chase our next adventures.

For six-and-a-half years I enjoyed one of the best jobs in journalism, and I give the Republic and Gannett credit for supporting me during that time in the face of heavy pressure to silence me or fire me. I got to live a dream: writing a column in my hometown, honestly assessing our situation and calling us to our opportunities. I had been brought up to believe that I owed a debt to my home state and hometown, the best of which exists because others felt the same way. I hope a bit of that balance has been paid down.

I was also privileged to meet many wonderful people, making new friendships and renewing old ones. I will always carry Arizona and Phoenix around in my heart. The David Mapstone series will continue, my publisher willing. And I will continue be an optimist about where Arizona can be.

Happy endings all around.

Jon Talton

I wonder how Ruelas is doing? Hope they don't make him walk the plank over there. In any case, Talton will be missed, as original voices in this Valley are rare, and they're even rarer in the pages of the Republic. It's really beginning to look like this Information Center b.s. will end up being worse even than the Monday "redesign" of the paper, which is the functional equivalent of putting tinsel on a turd. Well, at least on Mondays, apparently, because people are so "busy" and need less news. Huh? Don't worry, I don't get it either.

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