Daily Archives: April 11, 2012

Brian Farnham

Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham writes in his farewell post:

I’ve never worked for a company that has been as scrutinized, criticized, and coal-raked as this one. As [Patch co-founder] Jon [Brod] likes to say, you’d think we were creating toxic waste, instead of, you know, free useful information. We have critics on Wall Street, critics in the media, local critics, national critics, the business press, the journalism reviews, bloggers, etc. There are so many that I’ve come to think of them as a single large, screechy, off-key band called BI and the Haters. It’s music to kill yourself by. [BI refers to Business Insider, which has aggressively covered Patch.]

I suspect Farnham considers me a member of that “off-key band,” although my reports on Patch have been accurate. After I was given information by a Patch insider in February, Farnham wrote to his journalists:

I’m really sorry that we all have to deal with people in our own editorial family who think Romenesko is somehow a good person with whom to share their half-baked, uninformed opinions about the business at large.

As with all the other leakers we’ve had to deal with, they’re not helping their colleagues, they’re bad teammates, bad employees, dishonest people and they should be ashamed of themselves.

By the way, it appears that everything the Romenesko “leaker” reported about the direction of Patch has been accurate.

* Brian Farnham: This isn’t goodbye…
* Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham is leaving AOL
* Earlier: Patch to reduce staff, change editorial focus

Mary Junck

In late March, Lee Enterprises CEO Mary Junck and CFO Carl Schmidt were given six-figure bonuses for refinancing the newspaper chain’s considerable debt. At the same time, Lee was laying off journalists at several of its papers. On Thursday, St. Louis Post-Dispatch employees are protesting the company’s actions at what’s been billed a “Let Them Eat Cake” event. Here is the union’s notice:

Employees of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will gather outside their newspaper at noon on Thursday, April 12, to protest the outrageous bonuses awarded Lee Enterprises CEO Mary Junck (who received $500,000) and CFO Carl Schmidt (who received $250,000).

Noting that the bonuses were awarded the same day as layoffs at several Lee papers were announced, the event is billed as the “Let Them Eat Cake” protest, as the Guild contends those running Lee Enterprises are as out of touch as eighteenth century French Royalty and promises that “all who attend will receive a delicious cupcake” from a union bakery.

Carl Schmidt

“Since when does tanking a company rate a bonus?” asks Shannon Duffy, business representative of the United Media Guild, the largest union at the Post-Dispatch. “For a corporation that saw its stock plummet from $40 per share when it purchased the Pulitzer chain in 2005 to just over a buck-a-share today, it’s unbelievable that Lee’s board of directors would reward that kind of performance.”

Speakers will include Duffy, Guild Local President Jeff Gordon, Post-Dispatch retirees and Erica Douglas, daughter of Robert Douglas, a 40-year employee who died one year after having his retiree medical coverage cut off by Lee. Douglas recently returned from attending Lee’s annual shareholder’s meeting in Davenport, Iowa where she read a letter to Lee’s Board of Directors about her father and his life. It was a powerful moment and Douglas has vowed that her father’s death will not be in vain as she continues to speak out about the callous regard that Lee has for its retirees.

- The "mistrial photo"? My source guesses it is.

A Topeka Capital-Journal reporter live-tweeting a murder trial on Tuesday tweeted a photo that showed a juror, resulting in a mistrial. Kansas Supreme Court rules state that “individual jurors shall not be photographed.” Capital-Journal publisher Gregg Ireland says:

A photo inadvertently was posted that contained the profile of a juror in the background. The Capital-Journal regrets the error and loss of the court’s time. We will use this as a training opportunity for our staff members as they strive to bring information to our readers in digital and print media.

Ann Bush has been live-tweeting the trial. A Romenesko tipster guesses that this photo was responsible for the trial being halted. I’ve left a message for publisher Ireland to get confirmation.

* Juror image in reporter’s live-tweeted photo leads to mistrial

UPDATE: Khristopher Brooks called shortly before 6 p.m. ET to tell me that the News Journal fired him this afternoon for improper use of the newspaper’s logo on his personal sites, and for using executive editor David Ledford’s hiring-letter quotes in his press release, which is posted below.
“I’m a really big NBA fan,” journalist Khristopher J. Brooks tells me, “and whenever an NBA team acquires a new player there’s always a press release announcing it. I’d look at those releases and think, ‘The organization is really proud” of the new hire. Brooks notes that newspapers don’t announce new employees unless they’re stars, but “what’s keeping me from doing it?” (Nothing!)

The reporter posted the release below on his Tumblr and WordPress blog after he was recently hired by the News Journal. “I didn’t do it to showboat,” he says. “I did it to tell family, friends and ex-co-workers about the next step in my career.”

He says his new bosses haven’t said anything about the release. (The top editor at the Gannett paper is currently on furlough. I’ve left a message for city editor Phil Freedman.) Brooks starts at the News Journal later this month.

* News Journal Media Group acquires veteran education report Khristopher J. Brooks

Photo: Ali Colwell

Abby Spudich hoped her apology for the “Carpeteater” April Fools’ issue would make the controversy go away, but that didn’t happen and now she’s resigned as managing editor of the University of Missouri’s Maneater. “I truly did not know that ‘carpet eater’ is a derogatory term used for a lesbian,” Spudich wrote last week. “Had I known, I would never have even considered using it.” She told readers on Tuesday:

I regret deeply the harm I have caused through the publication of the April Fool’s edition; this was never my intention. As an individual, I still plan on engaging with the diversity programs and resources available on campus to continue my own growth as a journalist and as a human being.

The Maneater’s editor-in-chief also resigned Wednesday morning, even though he didn’t coordinate the April Fools’ issue. “This edition of The Maneater has historically been put together by the editorial staff, as a sort of surprise for the editor-in-chief,” Travis Cornejo explains. “I realize I’ve been fairly silent in regards to our April Fool’s issue. …My approach toward this situation has been fundamentally different than what my editorial board wanted and expected of me.”

* Editor-in-chief’s apology and letter of resignation
* Managing editor’s letter of resignation
* Earlier: Managing editor apologizes for Carpeteater issue

* The 10 Worst Jobs of 2012 || Newspaper reporter is 196 of 200
* Newspaper reporter was 184 in the 2010 list || It was 188 in 2011
* Earlier: Journalism is No. 1 on “Most Useless Degrees” list

The Republican Party of Florida replaced the real headline (“Murders highlight rise in crime in Guatemala”) in the Miami Herald with an upbeat employment message on Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Facebook page. Miami Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch told the GOP to remove the bogus hed, and they did. He says:

The posting of a fraudulent front page of The Miami Herald is unacceptable. Not only is it a fraud on the public, but it is trademark infringement for use of our masthead in a fake edition, and copyright infringement for those portions of the front page that were not fabricated.

“It was overzealous graphics,” says a GOP of Florida spokesman. (Harris Media, which maintains Scott’s Facebook page, was responsible for the graphic.)

* Gov. Scott’s Facebook feature of Miami Herald headline: Not quite