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Monday, February 1, 2016

Cleveland Comedian Mike Polk Jr. is Now a Plain Dealer Columnist

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 3:10 PM

click to enlarge polk.jpg
Cleveland's native-son comedy king Mike Polk Jr. has begun his latest venture: a weekly column for the Plain Dealer. 

In his inaugural piece, published Sunday, Polk walked readers through his introduction to journalism, a rude awakening which revealed several of his dearly-held newsroom stereotypes to be untrue.

"Cinematic portrayals of boisterous, hard-drinking newspaper offices are dated and inaccurate," he wrote. "Apparently, you're no longer allowed to have fun."

Polk identified himself as one of the "rare print subscribers born in post-Coolidge-administration America," and confessed to having not paid his subscription bill in a timely manner.

In the weekly column, readers can expect ruminations on just about anything — "I plan to primarily focus on whatever is going on around town that seems interesting," he jokes — and the same brand of self-flagellating hometown loyalty found on his YouTube page.

Polk's column is one of a number of recent editorial changes over at the PD. In addition, the paper itself has shrunk an inch in width, a page has been added to the Diversions sections, and the Friday Magazine is being geared more toward activities.

All this comes from Editor George Rodrigue himself. He outlined the changes in a January editor's column, in part responding to the paper's daily price increase ($1.50, up from $1.00). Above all, Rodrigue emphasized economy as an editorial goal for 2016. 

"We aim to make every word we publish matter more," Rodrigue said. 

Polk will be a welcome addition to a Sunday edition that needs a jolt of energy. He's an observant humorist and a voice Clevelanders cherish. Readers will surely turn to his musings over their Sunday coffees with a smile on their lips and a twinkle in their eyes.  

Polk's lightweight knocks on the paper, though — which double (intentionally or not) as an advertising strategy for younger readers — are no match for the engaged, reported critiques and analysis of a Public Editor. The Reader Representative position has been vacant since Ted Diadiun joined the editorial board early last year. 

During an era when frequent change (corporate and editorial) has become the status quo for newspapers, a column delineating those changes for an often confused and frustrated readership, would provide a tremendous service.

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