Pioneer Press Editor Sets Sail, But We’ll Always Have The Vikings ‘Love Boat’ Scandal

January 18, 2011
Thom Fladung

Thom Fladung

St. Paul Pioneer Press Editor Thom Fladung is leaving after more than five years running the east metro daily. MinnPost’s David Brauer reports that Fladung will join the Cleveland Plain Dealer as managing editor.

I worked for Fladung from the time he joined the paper in 2005 until I left the Pioneer Press in 2007. He’s an energetic and committed journalist, a guy who can rally a newsroom even in the worst of times. I like his standard comeback whenever the paper gets criticized for publishing someone’s name in scandalous or sensitive stories: “Newspapers name names. That’s what we do.”

Fladung impressed me from the get go. My “you-had-me-at-hello” moment with Fladung came not long after he took over as editor. It was fall 2005 and I had just been promoted from reporter to “team leader,” which meant I was leading a team of about 10 reporters. Suddenly, like manna from heaven, the Minnesota Vikings “Love Boat” scandal broke. Our reporters started scrambling for details about that infamous Lake Minnetonka party that rocked the Vikings season.

I’ll never forget one October 2005 evening in particular. I was at my desk in the newsroom, editing a story about the scandal. Picture the bank of TVs, the crackling police scanner, the stacks of files and newspapers and the late afternoon bustle of a newsroom. Details were still coming in and I was trying to rewrite our Page One lead. Fladung came over, sleeves rolled up, and peered over my shoulder. Together we knocked out a lead about a “wild sex party” where workers were saying they had to “step over players and naked women engaged in sex acts on the floor.”

We were both amazed at what we were writing. At one point, Fladung exclaimed, “I love this stuff!”

That’s when I knew for sure the Pioneer Press was in good hands. Here was the top editor, out in the newsroom, lending his experience on a breaking story … and having a blast doing it. Fladung led the paper during a tough time. I’m sure my former colleagues will be sad to see him go.