I’ve been acquired — read all about it!

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.
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“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

Comments

comments

23 comments
  1. This is a fun read but has the danger of being counterproductive. Besides the issue of sounding pompous, it kind of implies being a throwback to the age in which press releases were somewhat relevant. I don’t think they were ever the ideal form for promotion, it’s just that they were adequate given the limitations of communication before the Internet. Is there a national brand today that puts more value on press release than a good viral marketing campaign?

  2. Jake said:

    Typical Gannett: They hired him because he could do stuff like this – then fired him for doing it.

    Mine was, ‘We’re hiring you because of the great work you’ve been doing. (Sccoping their beat reporter on a regular basis.) But of corse, you can’t cover that here.’

  3. Kathleen Coleman said:

    You’ve got to be kidding. What he shared was perfectly appropriate, even professionally written – like the news brief the newspaper should have written and issued on his behalf. This is how the digital world works. And why wouldn’t the newspaper see how this young man’s excitement about his new job ultimately benefits ownership – and possible gains them more web traffic from his friends and family following his work on their web site? hello?

  4. Daniel said:

    It all comes down to honesty. Brooks didn’t just post a statement saying he’s excited to be moving on to a new job. Instead, he made it appear as though it was an official statement from the News Journal. While he probably meant it tongue-in-cheek, it’s still misleading.

    It’s unfortunate because I doubt Brooks had any bad intentions, but I can certainly understand why an editor would not want him in the newsroom. If he misleads readers on his own website, how do you know he won’t do the same in the newspaper?

    Any reporter who fabricated an article would be fired, right? How is this any different?

  5. Corey said:

    It’s worth considering that the reasons the paper gave for firing him (those that they could document and make a case for) were not the actual reasons for which he was fired. Creating an obviously egotistical web site, and considering his writing, tone and language, it’s my guess the paper’s editors decided they’d made a mistake and that it’d be best to break with this guy before things got worse. I can’t believe how many people on this board are mistaking this as enthusiasm, when it’s clearly a symptom of some much more troubling–at least for a journalist.

  6. Mick said:

    It seems to me that was pure satire and use of the logo was “fair use;” and under the circumstances, no one involved could misconstrue this.

  7. Luke Cavanagh said:

    While my initial reaction was kind of, “Man, that’s harsh to do to a young guy just getting started,” I maybe now think this is a great power move by the paper. After watching those two absolute BOOBS, Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, debate each other on ESPN First Take yesterday morning, I now think, “Perhaps the newspaper just nippped in the bud the creation of another of these vile media ‘personalities’ that are ruining the whole thing.”

    Of course, it would have been nice to see the paper say something to that effect, something about how journalism is not about the journalist, but at the very least it takes a stand against the plague of self-branding that consumes our national conversation.

  8. Kathleen Coleman said:

    I don’t see what’s “troubling” about this, or how it hurts the newspaper’s credibility in any way. There is nothing proprietary shared about company, and his little self-promo give readers (friends, family, now all of us – whatever) a picture of what this young reporter has done in his reporting past, and some information about his education. Would the guy have been more savvy to seek permission first from his editors, yeah, maybe. Did he commit a firing-level offense? I don’t think so.

  9. This is knee-jerk Gannett. ANYthing not done according to corporate headquarter rules is out of bounds and a fireable offense.

    This is Gannett’s loss and some other newspaper’s gain. I bet his phone is ringing off the hook, as it were …

  10. Tina said:

    So did Romenesko and this article get him fired. I just don’t understand why Romenesko had to write this story and then try and contact the editors/Gannet for comment.

  11. Dan Mitchell said:

    Because he thought his readers might find it interesting? The guy posted the thing on the World Wide Web.

  12. noah said:

    I’d be pissed if someone took my private email to them and quoted it in a fake press release about the company that I worked for without running any of it by me. Also, I wonder how much the attention paid to the Fox Mole played in the decision – Maybe Gannett didn’t feel like seeing a steady stream of its internal communications hitting the web. That said, I agree with others here that he did not deserve to be fired for this.

  13. frances said:

    any newspaper that would treat someone that way is a terrible place to work. it won’t be easy, but hopefully he will a place where the managers are higher caliber of professionals/

  14. Sean said:

    Probably not a good idea to announce you have a new job until it’s official. And really not a good idea, AS A REPORTER, to quote your editor when he clearly said/wrote something that was off the public record.

    I would’ve fired him too.

  15. This is one of the most stupid, boneheaded moves I’ve ever seen a newspaper make. If the editor is upset that the reporter quoted a sentence from the hiring letter, then the editor’s judgment is in serious disrepair. Get a grip. If I were the publisher, I’d be firing the guy who fired the reporter right about now… for wasting so much money. What’s that line? “Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the WSJ?” EDIT: “Don’t write anything in a job offer letter that you wouldn’t want repeated in public.” Complimenting a new hire — that’s private?

  16. Ted G said:

    I’ve been fired for reasons I though was unjust, but I didn’t go cry on HuffPo. Why? Because what editor wants to bring a guy like that onto their team? Guess what? I found another job and the conversation about what happened at my last one was a private one between myself and the person who hired me.

    Just because you have the ability to write something like this doesn’t mean you should. One large difference between a real news reporter and someone like a Patch writer or HuffPo blogger is experience and judgement. Brooks showed terrible judgement with his “press release.” And the logo and internal communications aside, his blog reeks with self-aggrandizement. Some humility is in order maybe? There’s a difference between writing a strong resume and making yourself out to be the second coming of Jack Anderson.

    Sorry, but dont make this a Gannett problem. This is a Khristopher Brooks problem. I would have fired him too. Especially when he hasn’t really even come on yet and you dont have to start a search all over again.

  17. Dan said:

    I would hire this guy for a magazine if only for his creativity and humor. Does nobody understand what a personal web site is? What idiot would really view this as a legitimate press release? It’s obviously a journalism joke. This is ridiculous.

    Khris, if you’re reading, keep your web site up, and make sure to continue updating it over time. It makes you memorable. And it just saved you from a job you were sure to hate, if what you just experienced is any indication of what was to come.

  18. James said:

    My question about Mr. Brooks: How can someone whose first “real” job began in 2003 call himself a “veteran” reporter?

  19. Mary Pat Lichtman said:

    I think this was a great teaching moment, but fired? That was an overreaction. Social media has changed the careers of journalists. The nature of the skill set, nature of employer and media you work in are all different. Instead of obedience, intellect and diligence – the old skills – employers need initiative, creativity and passion. You don’t just work for a publisher; you work for your audience and yourself. You have to think out of the box and you have to “brand” yourself. Most editors are uncomfortable with this. News, ads and marketing are all mixed up. Your resume is your latest tweet or Facebook comment. The revolution has already occurred. The way management deals with employees has to change or the business fails, and we’ve seen far too much failure in the news business. Employers have to embrace the initiative and be role models, but unfortunately, most can’t model anything but the old way of doing things. This could have been handled differently and been a teaching moment for the whole organization. As it is, maybe it’s a teaching moment for a wider audience. This is initiative, certainly, by a new employee, who is a reflection of what you will see more of in the future among young reporters. Khris is working on his masters degree – something else few reporters would have considered years ago, but most will consider in this day to survive and build more skills. Being able to report and file a story are primary skills but if that’s all you have, you won’t last in the news either. You have to bring real economic value to your organization. And mistakes are going to be made. Who among you has not made a mistake as a journalist? Not me, but my boss did not fire me – of course my mistakes were not this global because we didn’t have blogs and social media. We do now and we have to find a way to deal with mistakes in social networking environments that doesn’t kill the person who makes them. Change has come; adapting has not.

  20. L David said:

    What a surprise, a Central Michigan grad does something stupid and torpedoes his career.

    BTW to anyone supporting this idiot: Very few companies just let employee have free and unrestricted access to company letterhead to do anything they want with it. To have the chutzpah to help yourself to company logos BEFORE YOU ARE EVEN FORMALLY HIRED says a lot about the naievity and ignorance of such a hire. I’d have cut him loose too, there’s 1,000s of other guys who can replace him.

  21. EZ said:

    Did anyone ever consider the Delaware newspaper’s side of this story? This article doesn’t quote anyone from the newspaper, nor does it say whether the Saginaw News reached out to the managers at that news organization seeking their side of the story.

    How do we know that Mr. Brooks was in fact fired for using the newspaper’s logo and the executive editor’s job offer? Because he says so?

    Perhaps there were other reasons, personnel matters, that none of us will ever be privy to…

  22. Jim said:

    EZ — I left messages for two editors at the paper. Neither recall my calls.