By: Dave Astor
Conservative columnist Joseph Perkins abruptly left The San Diego Union-Tribune and his syndicate last week, E&P learned this afternoon.
“He resigned on his own volition,” said Robert A. Kittle, the Union-Tribune’s editorial-page editor, when contacted today. “It came as a complete surprise to us.”
Kittle added that Perkins, who could not be reached for comment, didn’t tell the newspaper why he was leaving. Perkins’ Feb. 25 farewell column — which ran just three days after he submitted his letter of resignation — was also vague on the departure.
“Some of my friends wonder aloud if I am suffering some sort of ‘midlife crisis,'” Perkins wrote. “They cannot fathom, for the life of them, why I would retire, in my mid-40s, from my writing job at The San Diego Union-Tribune; why I would forfeit my nationally syndicated column. Well, after nearly 15 years of daily deadlines, writing three to four editorials a week, in addition to a column, this seems as good a time as any to walk away from the grind.”
And Perkins, who emphasized that it was his own decision to leave, didn’t specifically mention what he plans to do next. “I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life and career,” he wrote, and later added: “Who knows? I may come out of retirement in six months or a year or three years and start my own blog, proffering opinions on issues of the day.”
Alluding to his conservative views, Perkins said he was a voice for people such as “the 60 million God-fearing, patriotic Americans who just returned George W. Bush to the White House.”
When asked about Perkins, Kittle told E&P: “He was an excellent advocate for the conservative point of view in his columns and editorials.”
Perkins, who was one of a small number of conservative African-American columnists in syndication, was distributed as part of the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) package. About 250 papers used his column at least occasionally.
Marianne Goldstein, editorial director of United Media (NEA’s parent), confirmed that Perkins had asked out of his contract.
“We enjoyed working with him, and we wish him well,” said Goldstein, who added that NEA would soon name a permanent replacement for Perkins in the package.