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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. And voters could attend a council meeting if people's behavior during meetings was an important issue.
  2. britwrit

    britwrit Well-Known Member

    Just from reading the blog report, maybe the reporter was drunk - simply drunk! - with power:

    It's a lose-lose situation for the reporter. You have some mangled, unreadable article appear under your by-line or you get the sack. Ten years ago, you put in your time at a shop like this, salvaging what clips you could, then moving up. Now what's moving up? Moving into teaching or writing books?
  3. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Here is the actual link to the publisher and editor's statement:


    Seems like they have a point, but it gets extremely muddled in doucebaggery:

    "Still another reason given as to why this wasn’t news was because the initial exchange only took a few seconds. So does murder."

    Um, really? Nice comparison there.

    I'd like to see the fired reporter come forward and give his take on it.
  4. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    There was a story about this in the Albany paper today. Link isn't online yet that I can find, but one thing that really stood out to me is that the reporter wrote and inserted the two paragraphs in question himself. After he did, he requested that his byline be taken off. He also said in the story that he would have been happy to explore the Pledge issue in a separate story. The reporter wasn't able to get comment from the Register-Star on that.
  5. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    The fired reporter, city editor and one of the other reporters who quit went on a local radio show and discussed the whole thing. The show can be found on Facebook at @Issue.

    Similar to what Copperpot said, the reporter said that he added the two grafs as requested then asked his byline be taken off of it. The City Editor was in charge that night and agreed to the request. Next day, without any warning, the reporter got fired. City editor went into a meeting with the publisher and editor, and she said they told her "You're with us or against us."

    She felt like she had to back up her staff, or she'd lose all her credibility, so she stood with them, and ended up quit/fired. The staffers all said they've received considerable support from family and friends and the community, including total strangers in the town they live in.

    And now, with a depleted staff, they've been making a lot of mistakes, including calling a local farm the "Fag and Thistle Farm" (It's Fog and Thistle)



    This situation could have been handled much, much better, from both sides. But when the top brass seems like they want to act like children, you really can't blame the staffers for resigning, even though it's a tough road out there.
  6. podunk press

    podunk press Active Member

    Here's what happens at my workplace:

    1. My boss tells me to do something.
    2. I do it.
    3. Even if it's stupid or I don't agree, I do it.

    I find that works well for me. Jobs are too scarce in this industry to afford getting into a pissing match over anything.
  7. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    It's interesting to read this thread and see clearly the people who come from:

    1. Solely a writing perspective
    2. Solely a editing perspective
    3. Solely a management perspective
    4. A perspective of someone who has never been in a guild and never had any clue why the right to withhold your byline without fear of retribution is one that's an important part of guild rights.

    I worked at a place for many years that was a guild shop. And despite Mr. Copperpot's claim that "it just doesn't work that way" when a writer asks to take his/her byline off a piece that gets edited in a way that you're completely uncomfortable with ... that's exactly how it works. And you know it works that way in a place where organized labor is strong? Because that's fair distribution of power. It's not your name on piece. You're not the person on the beat who has to face your sources if something is inserted in there that's false, that's misleading, that's unfair, that's bullshit. It's MY name that's on the piece. And it's MY career, not yours, that could be forever harmed if you, the editor, put something in there that libelous or inaccurate simply because you think you know better.

    Do some reporters abuse that right? Do they act like whiny divas? Sure. But guess what? There are also editors who act in bad faith, who insist they're going to do whatever the fuck they want because they're the boss and tough shit if you don't like it.

    I've worked for some great editors. Some that I'd walk through fire on behalf of. I've also worked for some editors who are disingenuous weasels and easily the most dishonest people I've ever encountered in the business. A couple times, the threat of withholding my byline was extremely important. It kept something that WAS NOT TRUE from appearing in the paper UNDER MY NAME.

    Who knows exactly what the situation was here, or why the reporter insisted his byline not appear on the story.

    But the basic right of removing your byline? That's an important one. Obviously this guy is not part of a guild, so you risk your job with a decision like this, but that doesn't make the principle of the matter any less important.
  8. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Except from what it seems in this case, the reporter says he did what they wanted. They just didn't like that he took his byline off the story and fired him without warning.
  9. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Without regard to the guild issue, I don't think it unreasonable for a reporter to ask to have a byline removed by way of expressing disapproval with substantial changes made to a story.

    It's sort of the plutonium of reporter-editor relations, though, and would need to be handled very gingerly, if at all.
  10. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Exactly. It's the nuclear option, but it's an important deterrent to guard against dangerous editing behavior.
  11. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    I'm with you on this. In my case, though, it was a reporter fresh out of a big-name J school with a "holier than thou" attitude who simply didn't want her copy heavily edited.

    And for future reference, it's Ms. Copperpot.
  12. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Ms. Copperpot:

    Apologies on the Mr/Ms thing.

    I was a young writer once, and for the most part, I kept my mouth shut. Some kids, for whatever reason, just don't. I'm tempted to propose no one be given the launch codes until after they've spent several years (let's say five, minimum) in the game.
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