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Do as I say, not as I do: Example 3,493

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Birdscribe, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    I found this piece fascinating, especially in light of current times.


    Naturally, the First Amendment isn't as important when it's pointed at news organizations, something I can personally attest to.
  2. Meat Loaf

    Meat Loaf Guest

    Similar thing happened here this spring. Management got demoted, not a word in print. But damn, if we don't try to beat information out of any other company that does it. Real fucking hypocritical.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    It's typical. One of my pet peeves of the business. We expect or at least hope that other folks talk to use, least we could do is set an example.

    And so what if a staffer is fired or let go and unloads on the paper? Most places people bitch about the newspaper just for fun.
  4. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

    I deviate from this line of thinking somewhat. While it would be ideal for a newspaper company to show the same kind of transparency it asks of others, aren't the editorial and the business side supposed to be separate? If we can decry the business side's involvement in our activities, can't they show the same kind of disdain when the tables are turned?
  5. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    I'm not following your reasoning here, FD.

    Newspapers chronicle business news of all sorts every day. They defend to the death their right to report layoffs at GM or Boeing or Countrywide, yet when it comes to looking at their layoffs or buyouts or the other negative news du jour, they clam up like an old-school mobster and swear omerta.

    All the while, they make their now-former employees swear an equal vow of silence, lest they not get the money promised for going away.

    Sports reporters ferret out contract information that's supposed to be confidential all the time and we celebrate it. Yet, take a buyout and you better keep your mouth shut about how much they paid you for being too "well-paid" (read 'old').

    Rank hypocrisy of the ripest order.
  6. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    You can talk about hypocrisy all you want, but some are missing the point.

    The news side of newspapers wants transparency, and they support the First Amendment, blah, etc.

    There are people on the marketing and business and advertising and HR sides and even in the publisher's office (unfortunately) who are strictly business people and wouldn't know the First Amendment if it hit them in the face. And all they care about is protecting the business, and doing what business people would do in this situation: giving out as little information as possible.

    The people on the NEWSIDE defend to their death to report layoffs and other bad business news. Truth be told, many people on the other side of the building in that very newspaper probably come down on the side of the businesses, not their own reporters. Those are the business leaders they know and socialize with, from the Rotary or fundraisers or whatever. And it has always been that way.

    Anybody thinks this is something new is, well, somebody new.
  7. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Simply untrue. And a false conclusion.
    Stories have appeared in the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun chronicling the layoffs at newspaper specific entities and the company. Stories from James Rainey have frequent spots in the papers. So much so, he was a finalist for a Pulitzer. I'm not a defender of the company or its management, but the papers have reported solidly on the offers for and the selling of the company and staff reductions.
    Your stance is an easy one if you have an axe to sharpen.
  8. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    For a paper or a law firm, CPA firm, PR firm, etc., etc., etc., to offer severance with a confidentiality agreement isn't a great leap. It's knowledge protection.
  9. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    You're absolutely correct. But I'll (almost) guarantee you this. The fine reporters writing about their own institutions did so without open-door cooperation from the business side of the paper. And in fact, I guarantee you that in all those instances, there was considerable teeth-gnashing by some on the business side who were dismayed to see their business' dirty laundry aired in their own newspapers.

    The great papers, with reporters who wield considerable influence and have terrific sources, can't escape this. But don't think those stories are received with glee by those on the other side of the wall.

    And even at the best papers, confidentiality agreements are signed by people who want to receive healthy buyouts to leave.
  10. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    You're right. You're correct. And, you got it.

    But, this is an unfair statement: "They defend to the death their right to report layoffs at GM or Boeing or Countrywide, yet when it comes to looking at their layoffs or buyouts or the other negative news du jour, they clam up like an old-school mobster and swear omerta."

    I have a horse in this race. So, I've paid close attention. Every Rainey story was littered with confidential and anonymous sources. But, that's not unlike any business or company profile critical of a company or institution.
  11. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    Fair enough, Fish. They do report layoffs and the great ones (NY Times/LA Times) even air their dirty laundry in print.

    And for the record, I have no horse in this race. I wasn't a buyout recipient. I just hate to see papers not hold themselves to the same standards they hold others.
  12. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    I agree with you, in part. If we're going to pry into the welfare of a company, bureaucracy or person, there should be a transparency on our part. But, times have changed. We need to change with them. And offering confidentiality agreements with severance is part of the process, I feel.

    For the longest time, newspapers failed to market themselves. Newspapers failed to realize that news and newsgathering are commodities. It wasn't until we saw other entities thriving on our efforts did we realize. And, in the end, the realization may have come after the final horn.
    In that view, a view we must take and one Wall Street has thrust upon us, papers must protect themselves. Protect their community and institutional knowledge. Hence the confidentiality agreements.
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