GateHouse Media CEO Mike Reed has been collecting six-figure annual bonuses while his journalists haven’t had raises in seven years. As reported here last week, a health-care reporter at GateHouse’s Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register works at McDonald’s on weekends to make ends meet. This cartoon was drawn by Chris Britt, who was laid off from the State Journal-Register in 2012.
I called Milwaukee schools spokesman Tony Tagliavia to see why the board wants the Journal Sentinel’s Erin Richards taken off the education beat. He had colleague Denise Callaway forward a letter that school board president Michael Bonds addressed to Journal Sentinel editor Martin Kaiser earlier this month. In it, Bonds wrote:
My concerns fall into four basic areas of concern, virtually all of which involve Ms. Richards: factual errors, failure to fairly report or assess data/information, failure to cover critical meetings and events, and typographical errors. I have outlined examples of those concerns in this letter, but can provide the exact documentation upon request. For the sake of not being repetitive, these situations involve Ms. Richards, unless otherwise noted.
Bonds added in his Oct. 1 letter that “it is my opinion we have reached a critical point and I am asking you to assign someone other than Ms. Richards to the education beat.”
It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen though. Kaiser told me on Wednesday “the MPS agenda is stupid and a lie.”
Richards had not seen the letter until this morning when I sent her this link. “A heads-up [by Bonds] as a courtesy would have been nice,” she says in an email. Kaiser didn’t see it, either. “I have never been contacted by anyone at MPS asking that Erin Richards be removed from covering MPS,” he says.
Richards says “most of the concerns raised [in the letter] are very minor, given the quantity of stories I write – and their complexity.”
And the issue about not attending meetings? Of course I don’t go to every MPS committee and whole board meeting anymore. I have to do this job during the day as well, and with only one person on the beat, that means increasingly I have to advance agenda items before they happen, or follow-up on stories after votes have been taken.
The letter also neglects to note that all MPS board meetings are broadcast on local 88.9 FM. So I spend much of my free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays listening to the board meetings. That way, I can keep up with discussions that suddenly turn interesting, while still having a bit of a life. Or at least cooking dinner.
I asked Urban Milwaukee editor and former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Bruce Murphy what he thought of Richards’ work. “I think she’s a solid reporter,” he writes, “and I haven’t seen any signs of obvious bias. But it’s worth noting that Richards operates in a different environment than the Journal Sentinel of old. The paper is less beat-oriented these days and more enterprise oriented. That seems to result in less day-to-day coverage of MPS than the paper used to do.”
Will Richards be at tonight’s meeting?
“I will not,” she says. “After reviewing the items slated for action, I don’t see anything that’s immediately newsworthy. Bonds’ report to the board is an informational item, so it’s not like the board will be voting on my job performance.”
Update 4: Schools spokesman Tony Tagliavia emails on Friday afternoon:
Because I believe a question was raised about the Journal Sentinel receiving the letter from President Bonds you referenced, we double-checked. Our records confirm Ms. Callaway sent an email on President Bonds’ behalf with the letter attached on October 2 and it was received by the Journal Sentinel server (see below).
02 Oct 2014 15:34:16 (GMT -05:00) (DCID 4129429) Delivery details: Message 49005896 sent to email@example.com
02 Oct 2014 15:34:16 (GMT -05:00) Message 49005896 to firstname.lastname@example.org received remote SMTP response ‘Thanks’.
The Akron Beacon Journal told Rep. Bill Johnson’s campaign to stop using this obviously doctored front page in the Republican candidate’s ads, saying it has “a strict policy on the use of its content in campaign advertising. Nothing is to be altered.”
Campaign manager Sarah Poulton responded: “Although it’s clear that the law and First Amendment permit the use of quotes from newspapers in political ads, we have honored the newspaper’s requests and are editing and replacing the commercial to remove the accurate quotes altogether.”
Charleston Daily Mail has fired editorial writer and columnist Don Surber (above) over his blog post calling Michael Brown an “animal” that was put down.
Editor and publisher Brad McElhinny says of his dismissed staffer:
He selected words that were unfortunate, inflammatory and, in our view, inexcusable.
It’s his own blog, but still, he’s known as a Daily Mail editorial columnist and many readers seemed to perceive the views stated to reflect on the Daily Mail’s editorial policy.
They don’t. And this newspaper is working to rebuild the community’s trust.
Surber, who worked at the Charleston paper for 30 years, deleted his Saturday blog post on Tuesday after I linked to it. (You can still read it here.) He wrote that his “initial reaction was Michael Brown deserved to die and I was right. His death was a justifiable homicide.” He called Brown “a gigantic thug who was higher than a kite when he attacked Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson, who unfortunately had to put this animal down.”
Update: Surber has republished his post “without the passage I apologized for.” He adds: “Readers who want to carry this on forever should be ashamed of themselves.”
* New York Times Co. beats analysts’ third-quarter forecasts with a loss of $12.5 million. (Reuters via yahoo.com) | (nytimes.com)
* Ben Bradlee‘s funeral was “a statement of the man’s irreverence and verve.” (washingtonpot.com) | The word “dickhead” was used twice at Bradlee’s funeral. (washingtonpost.com) | Many gushing and heartfelt tributes. (usatoday.com) | Transcript and video of Quinn Bradlee‘s eulogy. (washingtonpost.com)
* “I had fun” using a manual typewriter for a week, says student journalist Cory Blair, but “it was frustrating, my grades suffered and my productivity dropped.” (ajr.org)
* [Right] Screw ISIS and Ebola! There’s a cat stuck in a tree in Charlottesville, VA. (facebook.com/NBC29)
* How Tim Cook came out in Businessweek: He pitched his piece to editor Josh Tyrangiel. (observer.com)
* Family Circle hears from haters after profiling a gay family. (washingtonpost.com)
* Banner Alzheimer’s Institute to journalists: Cover our briefing and you get $100. (healthjournalism.org)
* Why Rupert Murdoch is still working at 83: “Curiosity,” he says. (businessinsider.com)
* The redesigned Flipboard is “broader but also more personal than ever.” (theverge.com)
* No sympathy for “whining” White House correspondents. (firstlook.org)
* Gawker considers covering Albany. (capitalnewyork.com)
* FYI: It’s daylight saving time that’s ending – not daylight savings. (npr.org)
* Verizon’s new tech site bans stories on U.S. spying. (dailydot.com)