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Iona Interviews... Michiko Clark

27 Oct 05

The Sentinel interviews thier own editor. I ask you. Clark talks about the previous editor and the paper's uneasy relationship with the Academy.


By IONA RODIE

Perplex City Sentinel's editor-in-chief and acting publisher, Michiko Clark, practically lives in her office these days. The modest space in the heart of the Sentinel's building is filled with greenery, her one concession to comfort. She gestures toward the jungle-like walls. "They help me breathe better, I think," she laughs. "And anyway, I never get outside anymore, so I need something to remind me of what it's like."

Clark is a little on the pale side lately, with dark smudges under her eyes, but her trademark sweep of dark hair is as glossy as ever. There's no question that the dual workload is taking a toll on Clark, typically known for her almost draconian control of every detail of the Sentinel's operation. Clark quirks an eyebrow at me. "Draconian? You really want to ask your boss something like that?"

Then she shrugs. "I try to be reasonable and fair," she says. "I do expect complete dedication from my staff, but honestly, you don't get into this business without a lot of passion for the truth."

Clark herself is now the acting publisher of the Sentinel because her predecessor, Lauren Grove, was sacked in the denouement of a religious-discrimination conflict. "That was a terrible mess," Clark says, pinching the bridge of her nose. "We're on a candidate search for a suitable publisher now. I don't actually want the job, you know."

Clark's stewardship, unwilling though it may be, comes during a period of increasing difficulty for the paper, in large part because she is being strongly pulled in conflicting directions on several fronts. Despite the fad-like popularity of all things related to Earth, a vocal minority is now calling for the View from Earth column to be discontinued, for example. And the Sentinel is torn between its duty as a public watchdog keeping an eye on the doings of public officials --most notably, Master of the Academy Sente Kiteway -- and the need to work alongside these officials to obtain information -- and in the case of Kiteway, to keep publishing the Earth-intended external edition.

"View from Earth is a actually a very popular column," Clark says, then she frowns. "The only problem is, we've been receiving a very limited number of submissions. It's really too bad, since the readers can't get enough of what they have to say. It's always a big hit when we get letters from the external readers, too, and we actually get almost none of those at this point." The Sentinel has no plans to discontinue the column, she adds, providing that suitable material continues to flow in.

The paper's relationship with the Academy, though, is a much more difficult situation, Clark concedes."Sente and I have always been on the same note when it comes to the importance of pushing information about Perplex City to an Earth-based readership. ... Obviously in order to publish the external edition, we need to work side by side, and at the same time, I have an obligation to the city to call out institutional flaws where I see them."

She insists, though, that tension between the two organisations is not responsible for intermittent problems with the external edition's publication. "The truth is, the technology that allows us to do this is a bit on the fragile side, and sometimes it simply fails to operate," she says. "As with everything, the paper is always trying to strike a precise balance to allow us to stay on top."

The Perplex City Academy Sente Kiteway The Sentinel Sentinel Employees

 

Violet Kiteway

Kurt McAllister

Scarlett Kiteway

Sente Kiteway

The Receda Cube

The Sentinel

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