Yesterday with long-rumored job cuts at McClatchy’s Raleigh News & Observer imminent, former N&O columnist G. D. Gearino posted: What’s up at the N&O? Don’t dare ask.
Gearino's post began:
It is one of the more appalling hypocrisies of the journalism business that the people who report on others typically cannot abide being the focus of reporting themselves.Gearino concluded:
This is not universally true, of course. Many news people are happy to talk to other reporters who call them.
But as a rule, the higher a journalist is in the hierarchy, the less inclined he or she is to cooperate with anyone who is so bold as to believe that news operations ought to be held to the same level of scrutiny as any other high-profile, important institution.
Consider the treatment Raleigh television station WRAL got when it dared to ask about pending staff cuts at the News & Observer:Asked about layoffs, Felicia Gressette, vice president of marketing for the N&O who spoke on behalf of publisher Orage Quarles III, said, “We’re just not going to comment.”Let me note that Gressette is a long-time journalist who a few years ago moved to the business side. Her contempt, not to mention the discourtesy to a fellow professional, is unmistakable in that exchange.
When asked about other cost-cutting moves, Gressette noted: “Any changes will be announced in the N&O, not WRAL.com.”
It also pulls back the curtain on a mindset that is precisely at odds with two of the fundamental principles of the business.
The first is the belief by journalists that theirs is a business which exists for the good of, and as a stand-in for, the public. They believe their work is a vital cog in the workings of a democratic society. If that’s true, then the converse is likewise true: A community has a stake in its newspaper that is greater than the stake it might have in any other local business. …
The second principle is the news industry’s belief in the importance of a free flow of information. Journalists spend their careers doing battle with powerful people who think news is a commodity which can be controlled, and the public should only know things when they decide to tell them.
Now we’ve reached that moment when the N&O baldly becomes one of those controllers of information. It’ll decide what you get to know, and when you get to know it. …
The much-anticipated layoffs at the N&O, expected last week but delayed reportedly until this week, will be an opportunity for the paper’s management to treat readers as stakeholders, rather than sheep to be fed pablum.Informed readers who’ve followed the N&O’s grossly biased, sometimes deliberately fraudulent and racially inflammatory Duke lacrosse coverage in Spring 2006 and its ongoing cover-up of the mistakes it made then are not surprised the N&O would serve pablum and much worse.
Sadly, you should expect pablum.
And how are things today at the N&O following yesterday's announcement of 70 job cuts?
I’m hearing from journalists friends there are mostly angry employees at the N&O with much of the anger based on employees' beliefs they're victims of mismanagement by senior editors and publisher Orage Quarles and have also been lied to.
Here from Gearino’s post thread are parts of two comments which state those beliefs:
Over a week ago I was sent a copy of what I was told was an email from [McClatchy sister paper] Charlotte Observer publisher Ann Caulkins which clearly hinted at impending job cuts.And this:
I emailed Observer editor Rick Thames asking for confirmation of such an email from Caulkins. I never heard back.
Super management. What is really sad is all the good reporters who will take the fall for really poor performance from the masthead for several years now.
Orage has blatantly lied to the community newspapers for years.Those comments won’t surprise many of us who’ve been treated the same way by top N&O editors and Quarles.
“We’re cutting back expenses in Raleigh, just like you.”
Yeah right. While reporters on the fringe are having to use “comp time,” Raleigh blithely sends its features reporters to California and France to cover the important stories.
I’m in a rush now, but this evening I’ll repost some of the N&O Arrogance series as well as Quarles' brush-off response to posts I provided him which contained extensive, documented data concerning the N&O’s use of Mike Nifong as an anonymous source for Ruth Sheehan’s Mar. 27, 2006 “Team’s silence is sickening” column.
Further along Gearino’s thread Walter Abbott asks:
We at LieStoppers need to know specifically who in the NandO newsroom lost their jobs.Abbott's comment was followed by this one:
IAW Walter - let’s see the N&O publish a list. Who’s staying and who is gone?At 5 PM ET I checked newsobverver.com and the N&O's Editors' Blog at which time there was only silence concerning who'd been axed and nothing about the separation packages they'd been offered.
Gearino's entire post is here; the entire WRAL story's here.