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Reporter canned over (lack of) byline

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Evil ... Thy name is Orville Redenbacher!!, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    "Casey had been under pressure by higher-ups at the paper to make an issue of Friedman’s choice, which the Alderman had exercised at some but not all previous meetings."

    That could be a firing offense right there, if you're told to cover a certain angle and you don't. Npw maybe his bosses sent him out with a wishy-washy "Well, you write about what you see, tho it'd be really nice if we keep an eye on this pledge thing." In any event, the reporter knew he was playing with fire by essentially defying management's wishes, if not management's direct order. And the byline thing is so drama-queen. Leave your damn name on or refuse to cover the story in the first place. No half-measures crap. I mean, we've all seen stories that have been beaten within an inch of their life, with the hopes of making it better in some way, without the byline being removed. Some places, I don't think you can just ask for your byline to be removed.
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    That's true, Dools. But at the same time, the editor needs to rely on the reporter's judgment at the time of the story. If there was only time to write one story, the story on the budget will have the biggest impact on readers.

    It's like if you're a beat writer for the Jets, and the boss wants you to cover the Tebow angle so he can write a column ripping on Tebow, and then some other news happens that day, like, say Revis is out for the year, then the boss needs to show some flexibility and trust his reporter.

    I just have a feeling we really don't know the whole story. Maybe the reporter had defied the boss' wishes previously and this was the last straw. Or maybe the boss needs to not be so hypersensitive. But the fact that three other people are resigning and that others signed a letter asking for the reporter's reinstatement says a lot, too.
  3. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    Horseshit move by a gutless power-hungry editor and a publisher with an agenda.

    If you're there to cover a budget meeting, you cover the budget meeting. The story IS the budget meeting not the controversy which apparently doesn't exist that the editor and publisher want to make a stink over.

    It's no different than covering a football game and wasting two paragraphs on the pregame festivities. You want to do a story on the pregame festivities? Awesome. If it's relevant to the game you're covering (I.E. If Johnny Football is named Homecoming King before the game and goes out and stars in the game or someone on the team gets hurt and it changes the outcome), by all means include it in the story.

    But when you're at an assignment like this, your job is to cover the assignment, not all the sideshow distractions which are nothing more than background noise to the actual story.

    How hard would it have been to write this story and do a follow-up with the flag guy the next day? Shit, I think it would make an interesting feature.

    But to pretend like this guy is breaking some national law by refusing to stand up? That's a stretch. There are sports reporters all over the country who are thinking about/doing a million other things every time they have to listen to Whitney Houston's national anthem for the 264,567th time that summer. It's not disrespectful. It's not taking away from the meaning of the song/the words. It's refusing to participate in an archaic tradition of forcing large groups of people to salute the flag/sing the national anthem for no other reason than said tradition and it's actually insulting/demeaning to everything that song/flag stands for to force people to do it everytime someone decides to gather in public.
  4. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    I agree. I personally don't say the pledge of allegiance. And don't get me wrong, I love my country. I just have a problem with the last six words. When I am at an event where the pledge is recited I stand at attention out of respect. I've yet to encounter any problems.
  5. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I stand on both sides of the fence here.

    It was a bullshit (and possibly illegal) move to fire the reporter for refusing to put his byline on the story. But the reporter should have better news judgment. In the grand scheme of things, the story readers want is the one about the councilman who refuses to stand during the pledge. That said, creating a news story to write an editorial about it and editing a news story with an opinion piece in mind isn't how things should go. And you don't need the news story to write the editorial.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    The reporter apparently correctly knew that the budget meeting was more important to the readers.

    The reporter apparently was unable to understand that the pledge "controversy" would be lapped up by readers of the paper and beyond, most likely.

    Or maybe he did know and didn't want to do it to the guy. But that is not the way it works.

    The editors had an easy fix to this mess -- by putting the pledge crap in a two-paragraph box on the side -- and completely blew it.
  7. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    How was the budget story more important? In this age, I do not thing we determine what's important. There are too many news options.
  8. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    "Casey had been under pressure by higher-ups at the paper to make an issue of Friedman’s choice, which the Alderman had exercised at some but not all previous meetings."

    That paragraph shows definitively that, regardless of the reasons that the bosses may have wanted this issue broached, it had come up before during the course of discussions, and the reporter's beat work.

    And still, he didn't do the story. The reporter completely blew it. If all we're talking about is a two-paragraph sidebar box, well, the reporter could've done that himself, even given whatever time constraints were there.

    And he didn't. Apparently, again. My feeling is, the reporter knew that in order for this to be actually be correctly and fairly, it needed to be more than a two-paragraph thing. If so, then it apparently needed to be done at another time (when he also didn't do it), thus he knew, and showed, that he really didn't want to handle it, and wasn't going to.

    This was nothing more than a contest of wills, and as always happens in the end, the boss wins. It's that simple.

    It's not always right, or best, or the way it should be. But that's the way it is. Lots of people have been in similar situations, and paid for it with their jobs.

    Also wrong, of course, is the fact that the bosses most likely are, in fact, quite correct in thinking that readers would probably be more interested in the flag flap than the budget.

    I also wouldn't assume that the alderman who doesn't stand for the pledge doesn't do so in some protest of a waste of time at a public gathering.
  9. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Maybe because it would affect the readers' own wallets?
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    More important because it helps inform the voters and readers of city business. Not that people would necessarily be interested in reading it so much.

    Whether someone stands or not during the pledge is a zero on the importance scale as far as affecting the lives or wallets of others.
  11. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Well, it could hurt that councilman's chance at re-election.
  12. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    This story holds a little extra interest for me because the reporter in question is a graduate of my alma mater. I posted the Romanesko story on the FB page for our journalism program, and lots of people have come out with "attaboy!"s for the reporter.

    I personally fall more on Dooley's side of the fence, right down to thinking calling for the removal of his byline is a total drama queen move. I had a woman (who is now on an MLB beat) tell me to take her byline off a story after I did some heavy editing. I told her it didn't work that way.

    Someone made a good point above that this could have been an interesting follow rather than forcing it into night-of coverage. But the reporter just seemed to not want to touch the whole Pledge issue with a 10-foot stick.

    The editor and publisher released a statement in which they kind of come off like assholes.


    Another grad from my school is chasing the reporter and the three who quit, so I hope to see that story and get some explanation from them.
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