Like all things, we knew at the get-go that it was destined to end...but still, we're a little surprised. After a six-month run, SF Chronicle columnist David Talbot has hung up his spurs, as he says the paper wouldn't pay him enough to continue.
After columnist CW Nevius left the Chronicle in December on 2016 (resurfacing some months later as a sports writer for the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat), the paper apparently found themselves suffering a shortage of white male columnists of a certain age. Enter Salon.com co-founder/48 Hills op-ed writer/former SF Examiner editor/Season of the Witch author David Talbot, whom Chron editor in chief Audrey Cooper welcomed as Nevius' replacement in late November.
At the time, Cooper said that Talbot's columns would appear three times a week for "several months," so even with his inaugural column detailing his colorful Bernal Heights neighbors, we already knew that this was a limited run.
A run that apparently ended on June 1, a look at Talbot's archives reveals, when he penned his final column, a regurgitation of responses to a previous column's self-described "Swiftian" suggestion that San Francisco just evict all its elderly residents "and nature will soon take its course."
And that was all he wrote, it appears.
According to John Diaz, the Chron's editorial page editor, he's "received a number" of inquiries regarding Talbot's silence since the June 1 piece. Diaz writes in his Sunday column that he preferred to "let David answer it himself" (echoes of "Nicole knows what she did," eh?).
(Relevant disclosures go here, I guess: I was a Deputy Managing Editor at the Chron until I quit to take another job in 2008, and am acquainted with Nevius, Cooper and Diaz. I don't know Talbot, and I don't have any inside intel on day-to-day operations at the paper or skin in this game)
Talbot's answer apparently lies in a Facebook post he published on July 2. According to Talbot, "I originally signed with the Chronicle for a 6-month gig, and in June my time was up. The newspaper offered to keep me on as a weekly columnist on a freelance basis, but I felt the offer was too low."
"I enjoyed my run at the Chronicle, and was frankly grateful that they gave a platform to a bomb-thrower like me," Talbot writes...and then can't resist throwing one last explosive:
This reader confusion about my departure would not have happened if the Chronicle hadn't spiked my farewell column. An editor there informed me that only columnists who had worked for decades at the paper were allowed to write farewell columns. Stupid policy. What are readers supposed to think when a columnist suddenly disappears without any explanation?
In the period since Talbot's final column and today, the Chron has yet to announce a replacement (short or long term) for Nevius' replacement. Here's hoping there's another old white guy with copious opinions available to take on the task!