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You're going to see some major changes in this paper. Some of you will hate what we do next; others will love it. Same as it ever was. But I ask you to keep an open mind.

I am voluntarily stepping down as editor to return to what I know and love best: culture, which I honestly believe is important. I don't for a second believe that cultural coverage can or should take the place of hard news. I'm not here to put a good face on the loss of our news staff. I'll let those who made that decision explain themselves to you.

What I do want you to know is that there are still people here who believe in the power and responsibility of the alternative press. And we'll do our best to keep the flame alive.

—Susan F. Edwards, Editor

Requiem for Our News Staff

Why on earth would Mr. Eason be so inhumane and callous as to fire three people, then insult them in the newspaper because they haven't been able to keep the John Sugg flame burning? Never mind the fact that Sugg was the worst "journalist" to ever work in Tampa. The only good news in the story in the St. Petersburg Times is that the three people he fired won't have to work for an asshole like him any longer.

—R.D. Hawood, via e-mail

I was so sad to hear that you had fired your news reporters. When a newspaper can shield itself with freedom of the press yet provide nothing more than entertainment advertising, I lose a little more hope for America. The Weekly Planet did a great service to the community when its news writers took on government and other big brother institutions in a fair and unbiased manner. Yours is about the only publication that can do that. Now, you are going to be of less intrinsic value to the community than the Walgreen insert in the Times.

—Glenn Anderson, St. Petersburg

I was a features writer at a bitchin' alternative newspaper once, one that didn't have a buncha soporific eggheads from think tanks and boring-ass publications playing Wizards of Oz. As anyone who was there when I was will attest, I couldn't have given a crap about news. But I was glad it was there. The paper I'd've humped were it human is now run by status-seeking, unimaginative fat cats who are not so slowly turning an edgy tabloid with ideals and a playful spirit into a generic small format, written by uninsured freelancers and designed by faceless drones in another state.

I'll bet the salaries of the three shitcanned staffers — immense talents all — don't add up to the salary of ONE portly wannabe Trump around there. You know, those 'tards with bombastic words like "corporate," "chief," "executive" and/or "officer" in their titles. Who'd have thought fucking up would pay so well? If only I'd spit on the fat cats' cars more. (Yeah, that was me.) Readers, don't be fooled: You're getting a product, not a paper.

—David Jasper, former Planet writer, Bend, Ore.

Since Weekly Planet is seeking new voices in the Tampa Bay area, I would like to be the first to provide my commentary.

It is troubling to hear that Creative Loafing Inc. has laid off its entire news staff at the Planet.

Last year, the company, under Mr. Eason's direction, fired the entire design staff. Tampa's local alternative weekly now has all their ads designed at Creative Loafing in Atlanta. Centralized production was a move for the CL papers that they thought would make the company more profitable, but it has turned out to create major problems.

Do you plan on centralizing news content? In the past year the Weekly Planet has had a number of hard-hitting local stories. Do you now plan on running only syndicated content and listings from your advertisers? How a paper can stray so far from its roots is beyond me.

—Paul F. Blake, former Weekly Planet Sales Representative, via e-mail

As a regular reader of ONLY the political commentary and investigative reporting in the Weekly Planet (I will no longer have a reason to pick it up, unfortunately), I read with dismay the article in the St. Petersburg Times proclaiming the release of the likes of Trevor Aaronson. His writing is insightful, funny and revealing, with obvious dedication to serious research when writing about a topic. As a community activist, I view his dismissal as a serious loss to the TRUE flow of information in the Tampa Bay community. I wish him, Rochelle and Co. the best, and can only bewail another corporate rollover for the sake of profit. What a shame.

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