In the continuing flush of their best talent, the Oregonian has now terminated their freelance agreement with Michael Zusman. I’m just going to post his email below, which has some interesting accusations.
Received a terse e-mail from DeAnn Welker this afternoon advising that I would no longer be freelancing at The Oregonian. After five-plus years, it was an unclassy way to deliver the news. I’m sorry to say that I am not terribly surprised, given my dealings with Ms. Welker since she was elevated from a clerk position to A&E editor after my good friend and editor Karen Brooks was unceremoniously dumped by the paper.
I can’t ascribe a definite cause-and-effect relationship, but the timing may well relate to a recent incident during which DeAnn told me that if I did not pump up an ambivalent review I had submitted, she was going to kill the review. I told her that would be dishonest and a disservice to readers, and could not do so. She killed the review. That was about two weeks ago.
A few years ago, we had a super team of restaurant writers/reviewers at The Oregonian with Roger Porter, Christina Melander, Karen and me anchoring the coverage. We nailed most of the breaking news, wrote insightful (if not always flattering) reviews, and provided abundant original, thoughtful reporting about Portland’s restaurant world. Now all of us are gone.
I’ll leave it to others to judge how the changing of the guard has affected the quality of The Oregonian’s restaurant coverage.
Personally, I am confident I can now get as much credible information from other sources as I can from the daily. Which is to say, in my opinion, that it’s now pretty darn tough to find deep, insightful, knowledgeably edited restaurant writing in Portland. Very sad in a city as food-obsessed as my beloved hometown.
To Food Dude, thank you as always for giving me my very first work as a food writer. To all of you, I hope you will continually strive to provide Portlanders the quality restaurant coverage we want and deserve.