Oregonian fires editor for giving false information about colleague’s death

Oregonian editor Peter Bhatia tells readers:

“[Glanville] says she regrets it deeply, and she has apologized to the news staff at the paper. You can attribute it to the fog of grief, a sleepless night or the loss of a dear friend. But, while we are used to sources lying to us, it is difficult to swallow when the source is a fellow Oregonian journalist.”

* Oregonian fires editor who provided false info about Caldwell’s death
* “Just wrong”: Glanville gets support from her Facebook friends
* Earlier: Caldwell dies of heart attack after sex with young woman

Comments

comments

13 comments
  1. It is more than passing strange that The Oregonian — where, now, I shall probably never hope to work — is all too willing to humiliate and shame a dead colleague who cannot answer for himself, while at the same time refusing to print this week’s “Doonsbury” comic strip because of issues of “taste.” (See http://bit.ly/FO3pYz)

    Now, they have fired a longtime editor for the sin of being a friend. Surely a suspension might have had the same educational effect.

    To me, the greater loss is not merely the passing of Mr. Caldwell, or the feckless firing of Ms. Glanville. I remember a newspaper industry populated by humans and ruled by common sense and loyalty. Those seem to have evaporated, and I hope the paper’s management enjoys the whirlwind to follow.

  2. Will said:

    So hiding the indiscretions of the powerful is “common sense and loyalty”?

    Perhaps that is why subscribers have been so eager to abandon traditional newspapers.

  3. Harvey Unger said:

    A sustpension would’ve been sufficient given the issue and circumstances surrounding it.

  4. Harvey Unger said:

    Yes, I know there is no t in suspension.

  5. “So hiding the indiscretions of the powerful is “common sense and loyalty”?”

    No, but perhaps having compassion for a person who makes a mistake in a moment of grief and confusion is. I’m with Mr. Unger: an apology and a one or two week paid suspension might have been a better way of handling this.

  6. Sorry, where I said “paid suspension” above, I meant “unpaid suspension”.

  7. Andrew said:

    An editor lied about a death. Yes, she was a friend and may have been grieving, but any death has somebody grieving. Can we expect newspapers to lie about the circumstances so they don’t hurt feelings or is that a courtesy only extended to the media? You want to “speak truth to power” but also get a pass when it’s a friend. She lied and has irreparably damaged her credibility.

  8. niceoldguy said:

    The crash involved a parked car, noninjury, no
    leaving the scene. I don’t know examples in recent years, but I don’t think we reported on
    DUIs other than the rich and famous — mostly professional basketball players — at the time. Whether Bob was famous enough to be an exception is and was open to argument.

  9. Jonathan said:

    wait. It was a DUI involving a wreck? That is more serious than a DUI, for it implies that the driver was intoxicated to the point of extreme reckless behavior. Was he a top editor at the newspaper at the time? If so, it should have been reported; no question about it. Since you wrote that you “don’t think we reported on DUIs” I am left to assume you are on staff at Bob’s or another paper. The policy at every daily newspaper I have worked at since 1983 has been – to the best of my knowledge – that newsroom staffers being arrested is news that should be reported, if only in a local brief. It is not left to only the police blotter report, which, it appears, was also avoided in this instance.
    And just to add: I was charged with DUI while working as an editor. I WROTE THE STORY ABOUT MY OWN ARREST, without a byline, and in the third person. It ran 10 inches, quoting the arrest report, and identified me by profession in the lede. If you don’t report the indiscretions of editors, you never have the right to report the indiscretions of town commissioners, government department heads, or professional basketball players.

  10. “I WROTE THE STORY ABOUT MY OWN ARREST” — more of the mounting evidence that newspapers have lost their way. Badly. Whoever allowed you to do this should have been banished.

  11. gus3 said:

    “If you don’t report the indiscretions of editors, you never have the right to report the indiscretions of town commissioners, government department heads, or professional basketball players.”

    Nonsense, on two counts:

    1. Government employees are paid from moneys collected under duress. The people forced to pay their salaries have a right to know about their employees’ criminal charges.

    2. Newspaper editors and basketball players work for private corporations, which nobody is forced to patronize or otherwise support with their money/labor. There is no “public good” obligation to report criminal charges against them.

  12. Jonathan said:

    I wrote the story about my arrest specifically as a punishment and ‘learning experience in leadership’ assigned to me by a wise publisher. I had to write the report on my own arrest AND IT HAD TO NOT FAVOR ME in any way. Believe me, the story was read before it went in print. It had to be unbiased and complete. Counter that with the Oregonian’s apparent lack of judgment in deciding that ‘it doesn’t really matter who knows that the editorial page editor got arrested after having a wreck while drunk.’ Who went and bailed him out? (Apologies to anyone who feels the last is extreme, but you know the chatter in newsrooms about ‘other community leaders’ sounds exactly that way when they get caught in such negative situations. We shouldn’t edit our comments when we are speaking about news room leaders.) Also counter my experience with chapter two in the Oregonian: an editor lied in print, wasn’t identified, and the paper was completely embarrassed; not by the death of the gentleman, but by the apparent willingness in the newsroom management to think lying in the story is somehow OK!

    Regarding the nonsense statement: There IS an obvious ‘public good’ obligation to report criminal charges against journalists. Do you really believe readers will somehow just give you the benefit of the doubt if they know you really don’t think they need to know that YOU got arrested? Take those comments – #1 and #2 – and run them boldfaced on your editorial page! Tell the reader, point blank, that you feel there is no obligation to tell them that the guy who is trusted to write the police blotter can skip over any entry about the lady who signs his paycheck! Do that and see how quickly the readership (appropriately and rightfully) tars and feathers you.