Philip Terzian has been a Pulitzer Prize juror, a speechwriter for a former U.S. Secretary of State, and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Harper’s, and the American Spectator. According to his bio, he has “reported from a dozen foreign countries,” written a book called Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the American Century, and held positions at a number of news organizations, including Reuters, the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, and the Providence Journal, where he served as editorial pages editor.
It’s this sparkling resume that makes it so striking that Terzian would relish the closing of a community newspaper. He wasn’t just some anonymous Twitter troll chirping about how “amusing” and “deeply satistyfing” he found news of the Providence Phoenix‘s farewell, back in October. He’s the literary editor of the Weekly Standard.
— Philip Terzian (@PhilipTerzian) October 9, 2014
Five months later, he’s apparently still giddy about Rhode Island losing its second most widely-circulated newspaper. This past Thursday, he tweeted:
Steady, comforting sound of crickets @provphoenix!
— Philip Terzian (@PhilipTerzian) March 26, 2015
Now, longtime readers of the Phoenix‘s Philippe and Jorge will remember that Terzian occasionally appeared in the column. In an item titled “Faux Phil’s Glass House” from 2002, for example, P&J wrote:
Your superior correspondents got a big kick out of perpetually arrogant “Faux Phil” Terzian’s regular editorial column of Wednesday, December 11. He excoriates the New York Times and executive editor Howell Raines, in particular, for the recent and (we agree) unseemly spiking of a couple of (subsequently published) sports page commentary columns about the exclusion of women members from the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
Phil blows hard about the “wall of separation” between the editorial and news divisions of newspapers. His charge that Raines seemed to be breaching that wall of separation by exercising far too much influence in the editorial department (that he ran until last year) certainly has merit. But Phil’s condemnation of theTimes and its “act of stunning, self-defeating arrogance” loses a bit of its bite considering how the Urinal indulges in the same sort of behavior when supposedly independent writers at the O.P. stray from the views of the Big Boys upstairs.
Does Terzian’s #Twittersadism stem from a long-simmering grudge over one of these jabs? We can only speculate.
Back in October, I asked Terzian, via Twitter, why he was celebrating the fact that 14 people – including me, the Phoenix‘s final news editor – had just lost their job. He never responded, and blocked me from following him.
When I saw his most recent tweet, I tried to send him an email via his website, but I received an error message.
I didn’t understand why you tweeted about how “amusing” and “deeply satisfying” you found the closing of the Providence Phoenix, back in October. And I don’t understand why you would still be publicly giddy about the paper’s death, with a tweet from earlier this week that reads, “Steady, comforting sound of crickets @provphoenix!”
Would you care to offer an explanation for either tweet, for a blog post I’m writing about them? To ask the question another way: why do you – a former Pulitzer juror, published author, and experienced journalist and editor – publicly celebrate the demise of a newspaper?
To be clear, I’m asking these questions with utter sincerity, and I’m happy to include any response you have in my post about your strange and upsetting tweets.
Freelance Writer, Editor, and Teacher
Former News Editor, Providence Phoenix
By the way, Terzian still contributes to the Providence Journal. As recently as December, the paper ran this op-ed about journalistic ethics.