Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Ann Dailey has taken a buyout deal offered by management of the cash-strapped paper.
Dailey's fans need not despair entirely.
For now, at least, she will continue to file her column on a freelance basis. (UPDATE: I'm told this assertion is a "bit premature.") But she has already cut down on her contributions to the paper: She recently announced the end of her weekly "Suburban Living" column, which ran along with an every-Monday column. And when combined with the simultaneous departure of P-G columnist Samantha Bennett, the number of female columnists in town is rapidly approaching zero.
At the P-G, the only regular female columnist is Sally Kalson, who has been writing every other week (and who recently announced she is undergoing chemotherapy). The Tribune-Review brings us Salena Zito, who focuses on politics. And your own City Paper brings you a weekly dose of Frances Sansig Monahan's riffs on local TV news.
By comparison, the Trib's roster of regular columnists features at least nine regular contributors who are male. A half-dozen of the P-G's regular opinion contributors are male. (I'm not including sports commentators in these counts.)
CP isn't immune from the trend either. In the past year, we've cut the female-penned column "Revelations" alongside a column by John McIntire. These cuts, made to reflect tightening page counts, have left yours truly as CP's only regular columnist. And I'm just doing it in a desperate attempt to justify my salary.
Bennett and Dailey took advantage of a recently expanded buyout offer made by P-G management. Insiders say the paper was trying to move as many staffers off the books as possible before year's end. Other staffers have taken the buyout as well: We'll provide names as we're able to confirm their departures.
On a personal note, I hate to see anyone leaving journalism, or losing a full-time paycheck. But I have special reason to hope we see Dailey's byline for some time to come. I disagreed with her far more often than not, and sometimes did so vocally on blogs and on that Off Q TV show no one except my dad watched. But if I often found Dailey aggravating, it was only because she was consistently more provocative, and a more interesting thinker, than other rightward columnists like Colin McNickle or the cartoonish Jack Kelly.
My best wishes to Ms. Dailey, and to everyone who has left the P-G in recent days ... as well as to those who are sticking it out. I hope 2009 is a better year for you all.