Michael M. Thomas, New York Observer columnist, Forbes.com and Daily Beast contributor and author of several books including the recently published “Love & Money,” has decided to leave the salmon-colored paper after 22 years.
Thomas, a recent Morning Media Menu podcast guest, wrote about his decision to leave the Observer on his personal blog Midas Watch (which has the same name as his Observer column) on Sunday, and sent a letter out to friends.
“It looks as if the NY Observer and I are parting company for good,” he said. “The new owner stands pretty much squarely on the side of those whom I consider the bad guys in the great civic and financial equations that govern our parlous existence. That his prospective father-in-law is Donald Trump, a person known to earlier readers of the NYO ‘Midas Watch’ as ‘the Prince of Swine,’ only adds to the confusion.”
Thomas said he’ll stick to blogging, about “books, food, the media, golf, music, Wall Street, manners, the writer’s trade, Brooklyn, local politics, the Hamptons,” and anything else that interests him.
“I have no intellectual or ideological connection to the new regime [at the Observer],” Thomas wrote. “Tom McGeveran, the new editor, seems like a very nice guy, but we’ve never worked together, and since I have some idea what [former editor] Peter Kaplan endured over the last couple of years, I can only imagine that Tom must feel, some mornings, that he’s woken up in the journalistic equivalent of the trenches at Verdun.”
“Long, long ago the paper hit a circulation wall at around the 50,000 mark — a level it’s never surmounted since to any meaningful degree,” he went on. “This suggests that people grow into the paper and later grow out of it.”
Thomas concluded with an ode to the now-defunct New York Sun and called The New York Times “pathetic” and “alienating”:
In my demographic, no day begins without a lament for the late Sun. In culture, arts, sports — and in coverage of the city, which was NYO‘s original stakeout — it quickly rose right to the top. Made chopped liver of the NYT, with its pathetic, alienating effort to be groovy. Early on, Seth Lipsky asked me to write for his fledgling paper. I was also being importuned to return to the NYO. Here’s what I told Seth: “I’m on the horns of a dilemma. Either I can be a juvenile on a grownup paper, or a grownup on a juvenile paper.”
I think that says it all.
Although Thomas will continue to write on for the foreseeable future, there is something sad in a newspaperman leaving a publication where he had served for more than two decades. The columnist that takes his place — if anyone does in the Observer‘s shrinking newsroom — will not approach journalism in the same way as Thomas. Case in point: “In my NYO column I took a view of the way people exhibited themselves in public (their private lives were off the record).”