26 March 2009

UNTight Furlough ...

How do you know times are tough? Your online alias gets furloughed .... * sniff*

Gal reporter Brenda Starr faces downsizing
—Colleen Mastony
March 26, 2009
The newspaper business is tough all over. Things are so bad that even comic strip heroine Brenda Starr—that feisty gal reporter—will be put on furlough this week.

In a strip that runs Saturday, Starr's cigar-chomping boss, B. Babbitt Bottomline, calls Starr into his office and declares, "I can't afford to pay you anymore." The budget cuts inside Starr's fictional newsroom reflect the bottom line at real-life newspapers, which are slashing staffs and freezing salaries in the face of steep declines in advertising and circulation.

"As far-fetched as some of the plots in Brenda are, I do like to keep it topical," said Mary Schmich, the Chicago Tribune columnist who writes the Starr strip. Starr's life, Schmich noted, "is a fantasy with nuggets of reality tossed in. But even fantasies need some grounding in reality, and right now, economic crisis is the reality that colors everything else at pretty much every newspaper."

What's next for our ink-stained heroine? Schmich hints that upcoming scenes will take place far from the newsroom. Stay tuned.