Howard's End

'City Paper' Editor Leaps to 'Tribune'

Byrne says the loss of Loose Lips is "an obvious gap, but it's a very hard position to fill. I'm going to try to fill it." He insists that under Witt, City Paper was as good as it ever was, and successfully carried out its mandate to cover local government, touching on the statehood debate "numerous times." To those who crave media gossip, Byrne says, "I judge media on contents and results."

Some staffers are still reeling from last week's surprise denouement. One says they always thought Witt would make things so miserable that many people would leave, allowing the editor to hire his own people. Instead, his secret enemies drove him out, earning themselves a reputation as petty and manipulative. But that might be a bad rap. According to one observer of the staff, "They never struck me as a group of back-stabbing bandits . . . bent on tearing down anybody who tries to impose order." Levine points out that in the wake of Witt's resignation, staffers "are not running around kicking up their heels. They have a good attitude about making it work."

But one observer predicts that, given the culture of alternatives, any newcomer can expect the same kind of hazing—or "ritual shit storm"—that attended Witt's arrival, in which case the best move is to ferret out troublemakers and get rid of them.

Others say it might be prudent to hire a familiar face, just as Si Newhouse tapped New Yorker staff writer David Remnick to stabilize the magazine after the departure of Tina Brown. And sure enough, Byrne and Wemple say they have applied for the job.

Levine says she is "confident that Byrne and the current staff can put out the paper for several months," giving the owners time to review every applicant. But some "great candidates" have already declared themselves, she says, so "we have a very high bar."

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