Reporter fired for rocking owner’s boat
This is another example of “owner chill” which illustrates how powerless journalists are to talk publicly about news items about the news or news-media owners. An Associated Press report under the headline of “Web site postings get reporter fired” on The Kansas City Star web site on May 10, 2006, said:
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A daily newspaper fired its courthouse reporter after he posted anonymous opinions on the public forum portion of the publication's Web site, including comments critical of his own employer, the reporter said.
Justin Quinn said he was fired last month from the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, where he had worked for more than six years. He declined to discuss the content of his postings.
Editor Ray Shaw confirmed that Quinn no longer worked at the newspaper but declined to comment further on a personnel matter.
Quinn likely will never work again as a journalist. Everybody reads AP reports about the craft. The reporter will be regarded as a newsroom trouble maker.
Note that if this kind of thing happened anywhere else in Lancaster, Pa., the local-family-owned Intelligencer Journal would likely be all over the employer demanding information. But the owners of the news media can kill a story about the news – period. The public and journalism community should take an interest in this “owner chill” issue.
If you own the printing press, you control the news agenda.
Most owners see comments critical of themselves as opinions, not news. But the same kind of comments about other newsmakers are seen as interpretive reporting. Why is the paper’s editor afraid of talking publicly about the issue? He is probably suffering from a certain chill in the air in his office.
I have been told, by a source who should know, that I was barking up the wrong tree on this story. However, the source refused to elaborate.