To the editors:
Michael Miner’s “Assorted Beefs” item (Hot Type, October 15) prompts some of my own.
Grievances . . .
What does a Hot Type columnist owe a Tribune paperback columnist, namely me, when he calls, apparently on behalf of Noble Press, to ask if I’m planning to review Barbara D’Amato’s The Doctor, the Murder, the Mystery, and I say I’m not aware of it, haven’t seen a review copy, have trouble keeping up with all the review copies I get, but would be happy to consider reviewing the D’Amato book if I had a copy, and suggest he have the publisher send one to my home, where it is less likely to get lost?
Doesn’t he owe it to me to say he’s calling in pursuit of a story in which I may figure?
Doesn’t he owe it to me to mention that, after quoting the Tribune book editor, Larry Kart, he may play us against each other, as he attempted to do in writing, “Only paperback editor [sic] Clarence Petersen stands between the Tribune and the shame of provincialism”?
Doesn’t he owe it to Noble Press and author D’Amato to let them know that if he plays this game (columnist “exposes” under false pretenses, then takes credit for action) it may work to their disadvantage because I know the game and won’t play?
Doesn’t he owe it to the Reader and its readers to practice the ethical standards he purports to espouse? Doesn’t he owe it to himself?
Michael Miner replies:
Petersen’s letter doesn’t leave either of us looking very good. He accurately describes our conversation, which led to (1) his being alerted to D’Amato’s book and (2) Noble Press’s being alerted, by me, to the fact he hadn’t got a copy of it yet. I didn’t go into my story with him because it wasn’t about him; it was about a couple of Noble’s books that the Tribune’s Books section had ignored. But by then identifying him by name as a court of last resort, I did make the item in a way about him. That was inexcusably thoughtless of me and I apologize.
On the other hand, I “exposed” nothing under false pretenses. My item wasn’t even an expose. It was about a small press’s sense of being unfairly neglected by the biggest local paper. Petersen didn’t contribute to this neglect. I don’t believe he’d contribute to it now just to show he’s too sharp to play the game.
There is no game. Noble Press didn’t put me up to anything, and I don’t go around bragging in any company Petersen’s ever been in or out of. If Petersen reviews the paperback edition of D’Amato’s book I won’t take credit and I won’t feel I’m due any. If he chooses not to, I’ll assume it wasn’t out of spite. Petersen makes himself sound like less of a journalist than he is.