1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Things take a strange turn for Tribune employees

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JayFarrar, Mar 23, 2007.

  1. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Tribune Company Imposes Employee Celibacy

    CHICAGO – Given the current situation with former L.A. Times editorial page editor Andres Martinez, the Tribune Company has imposed a blanket policy of celibacy on its 4,500 print and electronic media employees.
    The Chicago-based Tribune Company - which in addition to that city’s largest newspaper owns the L.A. Times and 10 other metropolitan dailies and 24 television stations - imposed the zero-tolerance policy on sexual relations to quash the risk its editorial employees could enter into a conflict of interest.
    “There’s a distinct possibility that someone who has sex with one of our reporters or editors could later wind up reading that employee’s newspaper or watching their news broadcast,” said John W. Madigan, the Tribune Co.’s chairman and chief executive officer. “That’s simply unacceptable. We have our ethics to maintain.”
    Madigan added that the enterprise of news-gathering should take precedence over anything else in a journalist’s life. “A hard-working reporter has no business having or even thinking about sex,” he said. “Does it look like I would do something like that?”
    Madigan indicated the new policy was instituted after Martinez acknowledged that he had been dating Kelly Mullens, a Hollywood public relations executive. Mullen’s firm was hired to do publicity by the Times for producer Brian Glazer, who had been selected to be a guest editor of the Times’ Current section. Glazer was chosen after higher-profile types like Steven Speilberg and Steve Jobs had passed.
    After the section was spiked by Times publisher David Hiller on Thursday, Martinez turned in his resignation and said, “The person in this job needs to have an unimpeachable integrity, and [David] Hiller's decision amounts to a vote of no confidence in my continued leadership. “
    Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Charley Ornstein at the Times had been the most outspoken critic of the selection of Grazer as the guest editor saying that it created the appearance of a conflict of interest.
    The Tribune Company considered an abstinence policy after the Bob Greene incident in 2002.
    Greene had resigned from the Chicago Tribune after his editors received an anonymous e-mail chronicling a sexual encounter in the late 1980s between him and a woman in her late teens who was the subject of one of his columns at that time. The episode ended Greene’s 24-year career at the newspaper.
    “It doesn’t matter that what Bob Greene did was legal. It doesn’t matter if it was on his own time. It doesn’t matter if the column he wrote was completely accurate and of interest to its readers,” said Chicago Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski. “What does matter is that we fully control the lives of all our employees, even the ones whose writing actually attracts an audience.”
    Lipinski said the removal of Greene was far more clear-cut than how the paper dealt with legendary columnist Mike Royko, who died in 1997, had been arrested for drunken driving in 1994 and at the time made remarks virulently disparaging minorities and gays. His columns of that period were riddled with sexist remarks and contained numerous factual errors. Royko kept his job even after the Wall Street Journal chronicled his behavior in a front-page feature in July 1995.
    “Mike Royko had a right to cause accidents driving drunk and libel anyone he wanted, so long as he didn’t sleep with them,” Lipinski said. “Having a chronic drinking problem and a big mouth has always been okay in our business – everyone just needs to know where that mouth has been.”
    The Tribune Company's move was applauded by a variety of journalism scholars. “Reporters must be completely perfect at all times,” said Bob Steele, an ethics expert with the the Florida-based Poynter Institue and he closely monitors the personal lives of the nation’s more than 20,000 working journalists. “Otherwise, they risk losing their credibility. As a result, the American public will hate and distrust them even more than they already do.”
    However, financial analysts who cover the Tribune Company were less sure how the new policy would affect future earnings. They noted that the Tribune Company is for sale and it may affect possible investors in a negative way.
    The no-sex policy was met with grumbling by Tribune Company personnel, but not a single one has resigned as of yet, according to Madigan, who added that the Company would assist them by installing banks of cold water-only showers in its employee fitness centers.
    “I worked for more than a decade making less than $500 a week, lived in six different cities and cover public meetings that last well into the morning hours,” said a reporter for Newsday, a Long Island, N.Y. daily owned by Tribune. “Believe me, giving up sex is no big deal. It’s one less thing to worry about.”
    A Times reporter believed the policy violated his civil rights, but felt there was little he could do about it.
    “I wanted to write a letter to the editor to complain, but I’m worried that expressing an opinion may compromise my journalistic objectivity,” he said. “You could lose your job doing that.”
  2. Um, this is the Onion or were you just bored?
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Has to be Onion....
  4. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    In a related move, Trib ordered the installation of extra stalls in its restrooms, to be equipped with astroglide dispensers, additional rolls of tissue and wireless internet kiosks with no filtering software. "The company recognizes that there are times when sexual energy simply cannot be channeled into work," the company said in a release, "and that culling biological function for all of our employees is a bigger task than any newspaper ought to engage in. So we might as well provide alternate accommodation for it."
  5. gingerbread

    gingerbread Well-Known Member

    An interesting recap from Poynter:
    (sorry, can't link, so am cut and pasting)

    Everyday Ethics

    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Romance and Editorial Decisions -- Always a Bad Mix
    Maybe journalists should take a vow of celibacy. That would avoid messy problems like the one that has recently arisen at the LA Times. Let's call it Grazer-gate.

    In case you still haven't caught up, here's a recap: LA Times editorial page editor Andrés Martinez is dating publicist Kelly Mullens who works for Allan Mayer who represents Hollywood producer Brian Grazer. Martinez invited Grazer to guest edit this weekend’s Current, the Times' Sunday commentary section. Critics, both inside and outside the paper, worried that Grazer's selection as guest editor had more to do with Martinez' romance than his ability.

    In response, Times publisher David Hiller ordered the section pulled from the paper. Then Martinez quit, saying his effectiveness as editorial page editor had been compromised. He called the decision to pull the section an over-reaction.

    Romantic liaisons are among the most common conflicts of interest that newsroom leaders must confront. I probably counsel a professional journalist on this issue every week. Romance runs rampant in the newsroom. So do romantic dissolutions. I've heard from a TV reporter dating a homicide detective, an executive editor whose wife was elected to the school board and a reporter who fell in love with the lead prosecutor on a federal case he was covering.

    You can't always control matters of the heart. But you can build a safety net around someone to insulate him or her from making news decisions that involve a romantic interest. Open relationships can be addressed. Secrets cause problems.

    Had Martinez let his colleagues and boss know early on about his romance, they could have stepped in with some backup. Then, when Grazer's name surfaced as a candidate for guest editor, it would have been natural to let someone other than Martinez ask him to join the team. And it would have been easier for Hiller to defend against the criticism.

    Because that didn't happen, Hiller found himself with few good choices when the matter went public this week and people started asking questions. If we've learned anything during the past five years of Internet journalism, it's that questions will arise. Somebody, somewhere, is just waiting to air your secrets. If you don't already know how you'll respond, chances are it won't look good.

    There may have been nothing sinister about the Grazer-edited edition of Current. But newsroom leaders don't have much wiggle room when it comes to the public's perception of our credibility. Had Hiller been given the time to isolate Martinez from making decisions about his girlfriend's company, the publisher could have written a nice note explaining all that.

    In the end, Hiller chose to yank the section.

    As an aside, many traditionalists question the sanity of cozying up to Hollywood types like Grazer. I thought it was an exciting experiment that made sense for a newspaper in L.A., in ways that wouldn't necessarily translate to other places, like D.C. (trade Hollywood for government). I was looking forward to reading it. Newspaper opinion pages have long been bludgeoned for being boring and predictable. And while much has been done recently to bring fresh writing and new voices into the mix, there is still a lot of competition out there for readers attention.

    Bringing in a bright guest editor from another world seemed like a good way to get new audience into the paper. It's the readers of the LA Times who suffer as a result.

    Posted by Kelly McBride 7:19:57 PM
    copyright © 1995-2007 The Poynter Institute
  6. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    Not to say that there isn't a conflict of interest, but how many readers really give a swut about any of this? The Poynter story mentioned questions being asked, but who was asking those questions? Other media or newspaper people?
  7. Baltimoreguy

    Baltimoreguy Member

    Except The Onion is, you know, funny.
  8. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    This is bullshit. It's not like the opinion piece was on some hack trying to make it in the business. Though, considering the economy, I wouldn't have quit my job. You pick the battles you can win.
  9. Please leave your penis at home.
    The Management.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    The sensible thing to do, really. Keep a stiff upper lip, lads.
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I can't imagine there's any confusion, but this was a parody, written by a Tribune employee, I believe, given all that's going on at the Times.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Well, I bet the Tribune Corp. would require workers to check their penises at the door if it save them money.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page