Forrest Johnson loss a loss to communityFor the first time in nearly two decades, this letter is not going to the attention of Forrest Johnson, who was fired last week by Forum Communications, which is the latest in a series of distant owners of our local weekly.
For the first time in nearly two decades, this letter is not going to the attention of Forrest Johnson, who was fired last week by Forum Communications, which is the latest in a series of distant owners of our local weekly. I write to encourage everyone who cares about preserving a serious community exchange of ideas to write to William Marcil, the CEO of the Forum Co., to let him know how you feel about this expedient but short-sighted act of corporate fiat.
Forrest has epitomized responsible, responsive journalism in his time here. He had a distinct worldview which he frequently and gently shared in these pages. He had his share of critics, many of whom felt his politics of peace and good will, and his insistence that the common good be better served in economic development decisions, was antiquated in view of the dictates of 21st century “free enterprise”. Recent events have shown he had good cause to use his column space to apprise us of the perils of living in an overheating world of shrinking wages and expanding credit.
His editorial voice is already missed, but even more alarming is the real likelihood that the ownership of Forum, a media big wheel in which the Chronicle is but a tiny spoke, will not even attempt to replicate the access to information and viewpoints across the community which Mr. Johnson fostered. There has been a wide range of commentary and byline story content this past 20 years. We’ve enjoyed, or at least gained some insight from diverse contributors and letter writers: Monica Isley, Suzan From, Karl Aho, Pat Wilson, Patrick Eller, Sam Cave, Tom Koehler, Fran Kaliher, Greg Hull, Verna Sinderman, Steve Gow, Pam Thompson, innumerable op-eds from nationally renowned columnists, Forrest’s runoff reports (my favorite, which may disturb many of you), and the Masked Fan, whose real location remains more secret than that of Dick Cheney.>
I see little reason to suppose that local pressure will cause the Forum’s brain trust to reconsider Forrest’s removal. I do wish to put them on notice that the locally sourced, open-minded journalism that the Chronicle has been able to realize (with minimal material support from its ownership) must not be abandoned. I have already decided that dropping my subscription is the only communication that the owners will understand, but I do so reluctantly, not wishing to do any further harm to the dedicated employees who remain. The Chronicle wasn’t broken, just in need of material support of its efforts to refine its outreach on the web and to have more paid contributors embedded in the broad region it serves. Firing Forrest didn’t help accomplish any of that, and it’s unlikely the people who fired him understand how to do a small-town paper worthy of the standard he set.