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Tuesday, August 17, 2021 to Create Team of Metro Columnists that Better Reflects Region's Diversity

Posted By on Tue, Aug 17, 2021 at 11:22 AM

click to enlarge The Plain Dealer Plaza at 1801 Superior Avenue - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • The Plain Dealer Plaza at 1801 Superior Avenue

In a letter published in The Plain Dealer Sunday, PD/ editor Chris Quinn announced an "unexpected and somewhat dramatic pivot" in the publication's search to replace Metro Columnist Leila Atassi, who was recently promoted to a leadership role in the newsroom.

Instead of hiring a single columnist — a post occupied in recent years by Atassi and Mark Naymik — intends to use the money it would have spent on salary and benefits to pay a stable of writers who more accurately reflect the city's diverse population. Each writer on the "columnist team" would likely contribute a couple of times per month.

"We know we are missing a great many other perspectives," Quinn wrote. "Hispanic voices. Asian-American voices. Jewish voices. People in poverty. Youth. Entrepreneurs. So, so many...

"Don’t get me wrong. We’re not looking for an Asian-American columnist to write about Asian-American issues or to purport to speak for all Asian-American people in Northeast Ohio. Or a Hispanic voice to write just about Hispanic issues. I’m talking about having a group of Metro columnists writing about issues of the day, but bringing perspectives to those issues that are missing."

Quinn emphasized, as he has in earlier letters, that the role is not expressly political. Metro columns are supposed to depict and vivify the experience of living in a region. And Quinn has written that he wanted the next columnist to follow in Atassi's footsteps, to empathize with populations often left out of regional conversations. In his Sunday letter, he asked for applicants to specifically reference the "segment of the voiceless population" they'd represent in their written work.

The new columnist team will be overseen by Atassi, and each column will pay $400. 

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