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What do you do if you work for an idiot publisher?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by NancyLou, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. NancyLou

    NancyLou Member

    I'm the managing editor. I've been at this publication for four months, now. I have over 20 years as a journalist, the last five as an editor. My publisher is a Harvard MBA and actually said, in a meeting with a VP at Cox in Dayton, "I know publishing better than even you do! I published my high school paper!"

    This is the same guy who told our VP of legal, "I took a law class at Harvard. I know far more about the law than you do!"

    Now he's trying to tell me what to put in the paper, even if it's going to get us sued. Both the Communications Director and house legal have told him not to do it. I've not refused him, yet, because these two are taking up the battle for me. But he's adament.

    The issue? LGBT protected status.

    He's rabid about this (against) and has handed me the most inflammatory and emotion filled rants to publish and then signs it with the name of a ficticious group (I looked them up, they don't exist) and says, "We need to keep the newspaper separate from the rest of the company or we'll get in trouble." But this rant is ALL him! Even people who don't know him will say, "Oh, yeah, I know who wrote this."

    It took me many years to work my way up to this position, and given there's not a lot of work for someone like me out there, I'm at my wit's end. I left work an hour early today after already having 90 hours on the clock, and he actually tried to call me in to put an editorial into the paper he wrote. I told him I'd do it first thing in the morning for the next issue, after I run it past legal, and he went ballistic on me.

    How do I handle this? I've had kind of nutty editors in the past, but nothing like this nor at this level. He fired a guy last week for taking an hour too long to make a logo. This guy is A-1 crazy!
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    1. Don't work 90 hours when you're not getting paid for 90 hours. Life is too short, especially when you're working for an asshole.

    2. Record what he says and call HR.

    3. Let him write what he wants. He's the boss. Just tell him you're going to put his name on it.

    4. Notify Communications and Legal in writing that you have tried to persuade the dummy to not publish it, and to no avail, so your ass is covered.

    5. Let publisher publish his crap.

    6. Pick out some nice outfits to wear for the depositions and the trial.
    murphyc, stix, bpoindexter and 9 others like this.
  3. kleeda

    kleeda Active Member

    All I got here is Baron is spot-on. Sometimes we take a job we shouldn't have, but we don't know it until it's too late.
    Baron Scicluna and NancyLou like this.
  4. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    Hmmm 90 hours and paid 40. Fredrick has pointed this out before and nobody believed him.
    Baron Scicluna and NancyLou like this.
  5. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    Document everything. Make sure you have a back-up of everything you need on file at home. I also think you might find some resources through the national SPJ regarding your ethical duties and responsibility to yourself, your readers and the company.
    bpoindexter, gravehunter and NancyLou like this.
  6. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Well-Known Member

    I'll make this simple: Get the fuck out of there quick.
  7. NancyLou

    NancyLou Member

    All sound advice. I brushed up my resume last night and am now actively looking for a new job.

    I'm going to send the email this morning to legal and the communications director that I don't want to publish this crap but am being forced to do so, at peril of losing my job, by the publisher with a CC to my personal email.

    This guy is nuts. The guy in legal and the communications director have both assured me they'll sing like a canary when we get sued. Legal, especially, are worried about being pulled in front of the bar so I know they'll tell the truth.

    Thanks for the advice. I'd say I'll let you know how it turns out but we all know the anti-gay rants will make it in the paper.

    I have several gay friends and this is making me sick.
  8. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Are you part of a chain? Because LGBT advocacy groups do not mess around. They go straight for the advertiser boycotts and shaming tactics. Every self-protective measure recommendation here is really good advice, but if this nut has superiors, he is courting personal disaster.
  9. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    I thought Jelenic died years ago ...
    Baron Scicluna likes this.
  10. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Hope he doesn't read SJ - because I think he could figure it out if he does. Take the other advice, too.
    HanSenSE and BurnsWhenIPee like this.
  11. NancyLou

    NancyLou Member

    He's not on here. Harvard doesn't offer a class in this.
    jr/shotglass likes this.
  12. NancyLou

    NancyLou Member

    He owns 80% of the business.
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