by Joe Tone
Three years ago, Debra Adams Simmons was hired as Managing Editor of the PD. The PD celebrated this with a front-page story. Scene liked this so much that we wrote a story about how we hired a Mexican. It's never not been a timely and hilarious story, but we're going to use the news of Simmons getting the Editor job at the PD yesterday as a reason to post it again, just because. Enjoy.
The bosses issued this press release today. Pretty exciting stuff.
CLEVELAND, Ohio, Sept. 27, 2007 — Further establishing itself as northeast Ohio’s premiere alternative weekly, and sending a clear message that it is committed to workplace diversity, Scene proudly announced today that it hired a Mexican guy.
At the regular staff meeting in the paper’s downtown newsroom, Scene’s editorial staff officially welcomed 25-year-old Gus Garcia-Roberts to its ranks. “Today is a red-letter day,” Managing Editor Joe Tone tearfully told the staff, while taking his turn at the makeshift piñata hanging in the newsroom. “I’d like to thank Gus for checking ‘Hispanic’ on his HR forms. Had he not been so thorough, we would have continued under the impression he was a kinda creepy engineering major, like the Gus I knew in college.”
In an interview after the meeting, Tone said the paper “definitely didn’t hire Gus because he’s a Mexican."
“But we totally would have,” he added. “We just didn’t know he was Mexican. I swear to God.”
The paper also didn’t know it was supposed celebrate and publicize the hiring of minorities, until the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a front-page story and picture announcing the hiring of a black managing editor. The paper had been under fire for the ethnic and racial makeup of its newsroom, which is mostly white, except for a few really white people.
Scene later came under fire itself, when a reader wrote a letter to the editor, accusing the paper of having a “staff [that] actually prides itself — to the point of drunken, public bragging — on its total lack of diversity.”
“So when we found out Gus’s dad was Mexican, we were like, ‘Sweet!’” Tone said. “To think, we actually interviewed this guy, read his stories. Hell, I almost called one of his references! And all we had to do was look at his last name!”
Originally, Tone said, the editors hired Garcia-Roberts because they thought he “might not suck,” and believed he might be “pretty fun to get drunk with, and whatnot.” The paper did hope Garcia-Roberts would add to the staff’s diversity, not because he was Mexican, but because he came from New York. “We don’t hire many assholes,” Tone said.
The arrival of Garcia-Roberts, a staff writer, is already paying dividends for Scene’s readers. While previous editors failed to fully capitalize on his Mexican-ness, dispatching him to cover such un-diverse topics as midget wrestling, Scene allowed Garcia-Roberts to put his heritage to work, encouraging him to “follow his Hispanic heart,” Tone said. The young writer’s for the paper, published this week, is about a historic Ohio wheel company whose shiny rims are now popular among low-rider enthusiasts in California.
“Never in a million years did I think we would be so lucky to get the word vato into the pages of this newspaper,” Tone told the staff, as they scrambled to pick up Double Bubbles and Yum-Yums from the newsroom floor. “Today, we did.”