Frank Rich penned his farewell op-ed in the NYT today, and goes to some length to assure readers his decision had nothing to do with the NYT.
Actually he’s just tired of the pace of the weekly column.
When I felt frustrated by churning out a standard-length Op-Ed column after a few years, The Times went out of its way to accommodate me by giving me more space, all the better for trying to connect more dots. It was fated that I would one day find myself eager to break out of that box too. I have always wanted to keep growing as a writer, not run in place. My latest bout of restlessness had nothing to do with the tumultuous upheavals of the news business in the digital era. It was an old-media mission I started to chafe at — opinion writing within the constraints of newspaper deadlines and formats.
Safire, a master of the form, was fond of likening column writing to standing under a windmill: No sooner did you feel relief that you had ducked a blade than you looked up and saw a new one coming down. He thrived on this, but after 17 years I didn’t like what the relentless production of a newspaper column was doing to my writing. That routine can push you to have stronger opinions than you actually have, or contrived opinions about subjects you may not care deeply about, or to run roughshod over nuance to reach an unambiguous conclusion. Believe it or not, an opinion writer can sometimes get sick of his own voice.
Let’s hope for Rich’s sake he’s never forced to encounter the relentless production of blog post. He’s set to start at NYMag in June.
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