Over the Coals 2007


Surprisingly, no one bit on the eight-part “Beheaded Carp” series
The Wall Street Journal scooped the Star Tribune (and won a Pulitzer Prize) reporting on billion-dollar abuses by local CEOs at UnitedHealth Group and other corporations. The New York Times beat the local daily investigating the peculiar installation of Rachel Paulose as U.S. Attorney in Minneapolis. But the Strib made up for it by scoring national and international “pick ups” with stories on cat-beheadings in Carver and a dog-beheading in St. Paul.

You’d think he got a clue when Cyndy Brucato and Dave Dahl slapped his face
Short-lived KSTP-TV anchor Kent Ninomiya, while working for WICD-TV in Champaign, Illinois, was accused of attempting to lure a female intern into a ménage à trois with another woman who worked at the station. According to testimony, Ninomiya agreed to have sex with the second woman if she arranged for the much younger intern to join them. The incident came to light when the intern was stopped for a DUI and told police she was fleeing the attempted three-way. The intern reportedly told police she found Ninomiya “too old” for her.

Quick, go tell marketing to cancel the billboards
When the Star Tribune received complaints after its website home page featured a story, originally published in Star Tribune property vita.mn, touting the best places for outdoor sex in the Twin Cities, Strib editor Nancy Barnes said “I think it sent the wrong message about the Star Tribune brand.” We weren’t able to find a comment from Barnes about vita.mn’s subsequent story on the etiquette of asking your partner for anal sex.

In his defense, he did it indoors

The scrupulous guardian of public mores who provoked the attack on that outdoor sex story in vita.mn, former Rudy Boschwitz and Arne Carlson press secretary Tim Droogsma, was busted in a prostitution-ring sweep. To his credit, Droogsma had sex with prostitutes he contacted on Craigslist rather than in the sculpture garden.

Except Oscar Wilde’s publisher, of course
Marq, a new local luxury magazine, broke fresh journalistic ground when publisher Monica Moses revealed that she organizes her books by the color of their spines. “The blues drift into purples, which drift into fuchsia. Let me tell you, book publishers aren’t doing enough with fuchsia.”

Call us crazy—better yet, leave it to someone else

In a non-sequitur lede to an otherwise innocuous play review, a writer for the Minnesota Daily described southwest Minneapolis artist Mari Newman as a “maniacal, googily eyed token crazy lady” of “questionable mental faculties.” City Pages caught wind of the story and, opting against the high road, published a response entitled “MN Daily writes mean and stupid article.” Someone claiming to be Newman appeared on City Pages’ comment board to declare her sanity and name local female artists she thought were more deserving of the title.

Close enough—people have been confusing Dinkytown and St. Paul for years
In the hours and days following the August 1 collapse of the I-35W bridge, the nation turned its eyes and ears—and the press corps of its major networks—on Minneapolis. While one might expect some of them to be unfamiliar with flyover country, former WCCO anchor Randi Kaye reported on CNN that “the Interstate 35W bridge between Minneapolis and St. Paul just broke apart.”


If this is McKellen’s idea of Lear’s rage, we’re gonna need another actor
In October, Star Tribune gossip monger C.J.—the woman Prince dubbed “Billy Jack Bitch”—burned Brenda Langton, owner of Spoonriver. The restaurateur, C.J reported, allegedly turned away Sir Ian McKellen, the legendary actor who was in town to play King Lear at the Guthrie, when he showed up a half-hour before opening time. Unfortunately for C.J., that was not the end of the story. The supposedly spurned actor returned the following day and ended up having a private dinner in Langton’s tiny kitchen office. After polishing off his meal, Sir Ian made a final demonstration of his displeasure at his treatment, inscribing a copy of the newspaper column: “Don’t believe a word you read in the Star Tribune.”

If you really don’t like anarchists blocking traffic, don’t go to St. Paul on St. Patrick’s Day
“Are you rushing to catch the last few innings of your son’s baseball game?” Katherine Kersten fumed in the pages of the Star Tribune in October. “Critical Mass doesn’t give a rip.” Those “serial lawbreakers” on bikes who clog the streets the last Friday of every month—using a publicized route which, should you pay attention, enables you to make alternate plans for getting to your ballgame—are nothing more than power-hungry narcissists intent on, well, keeping you from driving your SUV to the mall.

A weather god, verily, as if sprung from the loins of Zeus!
In the twenty-two months since Sven Sundgaard became weekend meteorologist at the local NBC affiliate, the twenty-something hunk has become a camp sensation, a testament to his ability to charm conservative exurbanites and gay men alike. Sundgaard’s hipster cred includes cover modeling for the local GLBT publication
and guest-starring on the Electric Arc Radio Show. He also maintains a blog at KARE11.com that features wholesome snapshots of his grandparents, the family’s pet goat Abigail, and his own naked torso.

It was quite the year for Par Ridder, scion of one of America’s wealthiest publishing families. Here’s the abbreviated version.

For a million bucks he would have stayed another couple days and burned his non-compete in the executive washroom
Ridder accepted a $600,000 windfall from his family’s publicly controlled corporation, Knight-Ridder, to remain as publisher of the St. Paul Pioneer Press as the newspaper chain was being sold. After several months, and several pep talks to PiPress staff about loyalty, he bolted for a better offer at the Star Tribune.

Oh, lighten up. Who among us hasn’t been born super rich, lived in Daddy’s shadow, and felt the need to bust out a little? I mean, what are lawyers for?
Freshly arrived at the Star Tribune, Ridder was promptly sued by his former employer for violating non-compete agreements, stealing St. Paul Pioneer Press executives, and uploading highly proprietary PiPress sales information into the Star Tribune system. A Ramsey County judge eventually agreed with PiPress ownership and in September tossed him out of the Star Tribune. The cheeky Ridder responded to that order with an appeal, and then, apparently having acquired a clue, finally resigned in December.

He still has the souvenir key fob and tote bag
At the three-day hearing to decide whether Ridder should step aside as publisher of the Star Tribune, it was revealed that, upon learning that Ridder had taken a laptop computer and a USB drive, both loaded with confidential data, the Pioneer Press demanded he immediately return the drive. Ridder, claiming he thought they wanted the cheap hardware back, ordered an underling to buy a brand-new, $40 USB drive and send it over to St. Paul.

The deal was done when Paul threw in the satellite dish on the roof
Simultaneous with his much-publicized legal troubles, Ridder announced “right-sizing” measures that would eventually cost more than 160 Star Tribune employees their jobs. In May, he also laid out $2.73 million for a Lake of the Isles mansion formerly owned by former KARE 11 anchor Paul Magers.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.