Plain Dealer hears from readers about Tony Grossi reassignment

How did it go at the Plain Dealer yesterday after readers learned that popular Browns beat writer Tony Grossi was reassigned for tweeting that team owner Randy Lerner is “a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world”? Ted Diadiun, the paper’s ombudsman, tells Romenesko readers:

I think [managing editor] Thom [Fladung] got by far the most reaction, probably since his was the name most connected with the story since he called the radio show on his way to work this morning to correct some things they were saying. [Editor] Debra [Simmons] got fewer, I believe fewer than she did in reaction to that Non Sequitur comic strip that was pulled, but she’d have to confirm that (it’s been an interesting couple of weeks…).

As for me, I got fewer responses to the decision than I thought I would, given Cleveland’s mania for the Browns. I probably got a couple of dozen e-mails, fewer phone calls. All but one were highly critical of the decision. Some threatened to quit the paper, several mistakenly thought that Tony had been fired, several accused us of rolling over to protect [Browns owner Randy] Lerner. A couple said that Toni (?) Grossi was their favorite sportswriter at the paper …

Interestingly, I saw several people on the comment areas of OTHER news media who wrote that they understood the issues and agreed that Tony had to be removed from the beat. Didn’t expect that.

As you might imagine, I’m writing about this for Sunday. I tried to be explanatory and give people a sense of the issue while being fair to Tony.

* Letter to Plain Dealer: Booting Grossi from Browns beat was the wrong move
* Read what PD managing editor Fladung said about Grossi’s reassignment
* Here’s the January 13 “Non Sequitur” cartoon that the ombud mentions



  1. Satch said:

    Cuddo’s to the Plain Dealer on this decision. If you listened to his tone of voice during post game interviews, you could see an attacking, disrespectful tone. An old saying goes like this. What you say, says more about yourself then the one you are saying it about! He was no longer fair & objective & it showed. A reporter forms the opinion of his/her readers in the community, his voice, words & opinions were playing a part in emptying the seats at the stadium, causing public opinion to demise about the Browns. From players to the coaching staff, & the biggest insult to the owner, who is doing his best to keep the Browns in Cleveland. My mom always said, ” If you don’t have something nice to say about someone then, don’t say it at all”. Nice hair Tony!

  2. Sorry, but there has to be more to this than what’s been presented. If every dim, bitter sportsie who crossed the line with disrespectful tone, lack of objectivity, etc. were shown the door tomorrow, the wind would whistle through the empty work areas of many a sports department.

    The MEs at most papers need to read their sports sections and then re-establish some basic journalism standards. Accusations without proof shouldn’t fly. Garbage columns about personal, non-sports issues and trivial matters like the food at a holiday tournament should be spiked, with the warning that any similar submissions in the future will be held and ridiculed as necessary.