Minn. Editorial Page Editor: 'You Kind of Held Your Nose' with Conservative Columnists

If you've ever lived in Minnesota, chances are you've heard of one of the state's two major papers, the Star Tribune, often referred to as the Red Star Tribune. The paper is famous for its left-wing bias even to people who've never been to Minnesota. Well, it turns out things actually could have been worse.

In an interview, Jim Boyd, the outgoing deputy editorial page editor for the paper says that he was forced by his old corporate bosses to feature conservative columnists, something he absolutely detested. He hopes that under the new owners this policy will go away. The bias is thick enough to cut with a knife:

If you've ever heard the Star Tribune called the Red Star, you can probably blame Jim Boyd, at least in part. As deputy editor of the paper's editorial page, he's one of a handful of editorial writers who plots out its official stance on issues from Iraq to a statewide smoking ban to political endorsements. This morning, Minnesota Monitor confirmed that Boyd will be taking a voluntary buyout and leaving the paper after nearly 27 years of service, and that the editorial page staff of 12.5 full-time positions will be trimmed by five.

But, the Star & Sickle crowd must be asking, will that affect the paper's editorial stance?

"You'll be pleasantly surprised that it won’t change a hell of a lot," he said.

Avista Capital Partners, the Star Tribune's new owner, seems driven by financial goals and not ideology, so he expects a minimum of meddling -- unlike with the paper's previous owner. McClatchy didn't approve of the Star Tribune's outspoken editorials, he said, mainly because they "hated any kind of nail sticking up" and felt the editorials were harming the company financially. So they instituted what editorial page staffers jokingly call the "codpiece" — the "conservative of the day."

"They ordained that we would have a conservative of the day. I’ve got to tell you, you run out of good ones real quick," he said. "You’ve got Steve Chapman, whom I really like, who’s a libertarian and a good guy. So you didn’t mind running him, but you kind of held your nose when you ran Mona Charon or Debra Saunders. I mean, good grief. Jonah Goldberg? Finally, we were able to get rid of that bugger. That’s my point: Avista is much less of a micromanaging outfit than McClatchy was."

In a wide-ranging interview with Minnesota Monitor, he discussed the bright side of the buyouts (whether newsroom "deadwood" will leave), his assessment of insatiable Wall Street investors as journalism's "worst enemy," and his hopes for a Star Tribune that's nonprofit, community-owned and -- above all -- reinvigorated.

Hat tip: Captain's Quarters.

Update 14:33. Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker at Power Line have tangled with Boyd on a number of occasions. Be sure and read their "best of" recap.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013