Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 26-April 1 | Your News & Comments: Part 6

Can't find the right spot for your comment? Post it here, in this open forum. Real Time Comments: parked here, 24/7. (Earlier editions.)


  1. Eight jobs posted today on CareerBuilder for the new national wire desk in Des Moines ...

  2. This is too Evan Ray
    If you have a vision for GPS, can you please explain it? We who work in Production have no clue what the Goals are, what the vision is , nothing. Everyone is in the dark, so I assume the plan is to run the print Division into the ground or sell it off? Please send a memo soon to your employees who bust their ass daily, and have been wondering why. I believe you are a figure head, soon to take the fall like Ollie North, when the complete shit hits the fan. Your not competent to run a operation of this size, no one has ever seen you or received any emails from you

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  4. A Nerve Strcuk at Pointroll3/31/2012 7:12 AM

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  7. 6:56 I hate to tell you GPS people this but there is no point, you,re in a dead end job- face it. Bust your ass at work no one cares! Just keep on working. Don't complain either because no one cares.

  8. Whenever I hear someone talking about the need to move editorial content forward as a reason for replacing 50 and 60somethings in the newsroom, I have to laugh.

    The new journalism that I see on these allegedly cutting edge websites is a mess. Typos galore. Lack of fact checking. Blatant editorializing. Poor photography. Misleading headlines. You name it. The move to push the envelope is more like a move to push respectable journalism off a cliff.

    Now you might say that polished, objective, professional journalism doesn't sell today. Granted, we have a dumbed down society that gravitates to all sorts of crap. But why can't today's technologies blend with real editing and writing? Why are newsrooms throwing out the baby (boomers) with the bath water?

    I remember coming up through the ranks as a young man, learning my craft from many editors who were over 50. Without them, I wouldn't have known half of what I know now. Being young and cocky, perhaps I didn't fully appreciate their mentoring at the time, but in hindsight, I am grateful for the principles taught to me by my elders.

    Without senior leadership in newsrooms, I suspect we will continue to see the silliness that we are now bombarded with online, on television and even in print. Yeah, getting it first and asking question later might help drive traffic to a website or boost TV news ratings, but will it really do much for the profession or even our democracy to have virtually no checks and balances in our newsrooms, no reporters, photographers or designers with the foundation to provide professional content that is both cutting edge and respectable?

    I will fully admit that there are some senior editors who no longer possess the ability to learn new tricks that are needed to thrive in a modern media market. I will also add that there are many, who if given the chance, are more than capable of reinventing themselves. In fact, baby boomers have spent most of their lives evolving. It's in the DNA of many to always look at alternative approaches. Who the heck do you think invented personal computers? But because of their higher salaries, boomers aren't given a chance in digital newsrooms. They are cast out, falsely labelled as unwilling to change. It's more of a bottom-line issue than an a trainability issue. It suits management to portray boomers as rigid. And, of course, it's not too difficult to get younger people to believe that managerial lie.

    The world is in serious trouble on many fronts, and I believe there is a link between our societal problems and the decline in journalism over the last decade. Social media is NOT journalism.

    Whether companies like Gannett give a damn about anything other than profits remains to be seen. But the trends of the last 5-10 years sure do look bleak as seasoned journalists, with a lot to still offer, collect more and more unemployment checks.

  9. I want to resurrect a topic that I think is important: the disciplinary action against employees who signed the Walker recall petition.

    I was shocked that so many of the comments were anti-worker. I don't know if that's because of corporate shills here or indoctrination, but I implore Gannetteers (cough, cough) to look at the big picture with the open mind journalists are supposed to bring to the table in all matters.

    I'm not a member of a party, or a resident of Wisconsin, or even a current Gannetteer, but I can see so clearly that the issue isn't really about signing a petition. It's about taking an action that could hinder the corporate anti-union agenda.

    Here's why it's exceptionally important at this time in history. The corporations that bolster Walker aren't only not people, no matter what five justices say, but corporations aren't Americans. Gannett is multinational; Murdoch is still Australian, despite America recognizing him as naturalized here (I heard). The march toward the corporate agenda is a loss of fundamental national democracy.

    What happens in Wisconsin matters to all of us, both in the recall election and in the professional news business.

    Even though I didn't sign any petitions before I was laid off, because I couldn't predict if I might be involved in that reporting down the road, I never considered that my corporate employment waived my constitutional right to do so, without punishment.

    I wish every Gannett employee would stick up for these 25 in Wisconsin. It could be you and your personal life the multinational Gannett Co. usurps tomorrow.

    If Gannett can put you on a road to dismissal for signing a petition, it can tell you that you can't have a gay partner because it foretells your perspective on gay marriage legislation, or that you can't use birth control or have had an abortion, because that's an issue in the news, too. Those examples are exactly the same basis as the Walker recall petition. Your civil rights as an American should trump a multinational corporation's right to control your life outside of the time you are paid to work for it.

    1. You dont sign petitions when you are at a media company. Period.

  10. I think they should put Mr.Campbell in charge of GPS. Look how good his performance at Florida Today has been.

  11. Oh nonsense, 9:25. Avoiding the perception of bias by a media company devoted to fairness in coverage is a perfectly fine requirement.

    You could use your over-the-top analogies equally to having to wear a hat at McDonalds, or requiring physicians to 'do no harm.'

    Workplaces have the right to require reasonable codes of behavior.

  12. Rob Gatto - CEO, formerly sales rep for Shoplocal

    Sarah Ripmaster - SVP Sales, formerly sales rep for pharmaceutical company and certified party-girl (according to her Facebook wall)

    Sandy Dondici - CTO, who knows what this guy did or what he even does

    Catherine Spurway-Hepler - SVP Marketing and Strategy, no real prior experience before Pointroll

    Dea Lawrence - VP Sales, LA and part time movie star, can anyone name her famous movie?

    This is YOUR Pointroll LEADERSHIP. Does anyone else need proof that this company is fcuk'ed?

    Seriously, read their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and whereabouts. This leadership team is a bunch of losers. If they were so great, they wouldn't be at Pointroll, which is owned by a failing newspaper company based in Virginia!

  13. Has anyone run the list of Gannett execs and board members to check for political contributions?

  14. Since Brevard Times mentions your blog, might as well give you a heads up:

  15. I remember past publisher of Post-Crescent who served as President of the board of directors for local triple A baseball team, which the paper covered. Ahh, but for management the rules are different.

  16. "... (A) media company devoted to fairness," 9:28 am? ROTFLMAO

    Is that why Gannett gives free ads disguised as news on A1 to car dealears it runs contests for? Would the winner of a contest "fairly" be A1 worthy otherwise?

    Can someone who's African-American not fairly cover the NAACP? A woman who uses birth control: Can she not fairly report stories about people who are Catholic?

    Fairness, my patootie. It's about the anti-union, pro-corporate agenda.

  17. 951 says, "You dont sign petitions when you are at a media company. Period."

    Can you show that, exactly, in the handbook? I think the ethics policy is a lot more nuanced, probably because if it stated that in so many words in writing, the ACLU might have the corporation in court challenging an employer's right to prohibit what the U.S. and state constitutions protect.

    One essential factor is that "a media company" employs many people not affiliated behind the alleged "wall" that used to shield the newsrooms from business biases. Most journos don't sign by choice, but to directly deny a constitutional right to everyone in the entire corporation spells activity far beyond the ethics veil.

  18. This is an interesting debate about signing petitions. I think that 9:25 makes some good points.

    The newspaper clearly has an editorial position - it appears on the opinion page. So it's fair to say that neither the publisher nor the editor have relenquished their right to express political views. And pursue political agendas.

    Further I might add that signing a petition doesn't by itself display a biased agenda when it comes to presenting news. A good reporter can have a personal opinion yet still maintain an objective approach to news. And a good copy editor can sign a petition and still write a fair headline that honors the other side.

    What's next? Shall we be required to submit for approval a list of magazines and books we read? Perhaps Gannett would like some say on who we may call 'friend?' Or maybe Gannetteers should surrender their right to vote altogether.

    Most of the people who apparently signed petitions had no contact with political issues. You're telling me that a newsroom receptionist or photographer can't sign a petition?

    Of course a reporter covering the recall debate should take pains to remain fair, and that should probably include not signing petition or putting signs in the front lawn. But the entire news department?

    A sports reporter doesn't wear a team logo when going to work, nor shill for the local squad. But does that mean that a copy editor can't be a fan and still edit a story fairly?

    Those who say this is a black and white issue need to give it more thought. It just isn't as clear-cut as some would suggest.

    But it is a good topic to consider nonetheless.

  19. I have a problem with the selective enforcement of the ethics policy.

  20. Those who seek to minimize or excuse this ethics episode merely validate the public's suspicion of, and low regard for, the news profession, and thereby hasten its fate — which "journalists" blame on everybody under the sun but themselves.

  21. Hair covering for food vendors has a legal basis in health regulations, and it exerts an employer's rules ONLY during the duration the employer is paying for the time, not 24/7.

    Preventing someone from his or her right to make a personal political decision is not constitutional in this democracy.

    If you want to talk "over the top" analogies, I think the McDonald's one is insulting to this discussion. I didn't even understand the doctor's "do no harm" analogy.

  22. Constitutional, smonstitutional. Your employer asks you to pee in a cup or swab your cheek to get a job - that's a clear violation of due process but you accept the infringement to get the job. We give up our rights every day.

    You become a journalist, you accept the restrictions on your participation in the process. If you can't live with that - become a columnist, a blogger, a novelist, or unemployed.

    These 25 people who chose to sign the petition aren't being held to a policy that was created ex post facto to their signing, created because Gannett legal gives a damn about the governor in Wisconsin. The policy was always there, and when you have a policy and the public knows your people violated it, integrity demands a response.

    Integrity which the people who signed the ethics policy and signed the petition may be lacking.

  23. Show me evidence that petition signing has anything to do with the public's poor perception of newspapers, please, 10:36.

    The people I talk to don't trust the newspaper because of the corporate management's clear editorializing on news pages, not the reporters' and editors' (not to mention everyone not even involved in news at all).

    Which is exactly the point here, I think. Punishment for THIS petition IS the corporation's bias showing. The Walker recall had almost everything to do with his and his corporate supporters' agenda to stop labor's ability to organize for fairness in the workplace.

    If the media consumer sees bias, I would tend to believe it's the corporate bias showing when it tries to deny employees their constitutional right to seek a new governor early.

  24. 9:56 you say "covered" the team? As seen from afar, I would say more like idolized. Always wondered why. Now I know.

  25. 10:46 AM, the fact that you only talk to people who share your ideology is exactly your problem.

  26. Anon@956: There are no Class AAA minor league baseball teams in Wisconsin.

  27. Photographers are not just shooters - they compose, crop and edit their photos like any story - and the ones in Appleton will tell you how great they are if you let them. If anything, photographer ethics should be held to a much higher level than news writers, because images can be so much more powerful. And who cares what the jocks sign with their X, right?

    But instead of crafting a different policy for each situation, we have a 32 bullet policy that encompasses enough situations to cover the working journalists regardless of their role. It's to avoid even the appearance of partiality - and the public will castigate us if we don't. Worse, they'd ignore us.

  28. 10:45 is exactly right. Those who signed the petition clearly violated a basic rule of journalism. Those who defend them should know that it is an example of why fewer and fewer people trust news organizations. The perception of bias among readers is as damaging as bias itself.

  29. Hard to say which of the following is most concerning:

    • That a putative journalist refuses to acknowledge a blatant ethics violation?

    • That a putative journalist confuses voting (a civic duty) with campaigning?

    • That a putative journalist actually claims that signing on to an intensely ideological campaign to overturn a valid election held less than 18 months ago is not an overt political and ideological act?

    • That a putative journalist knows so little basic civics that he thinks the Constitution governs his relationship with his employer?

    • Or (for those who thought they wouldn't get caught) that a putative journalist knows so little basic civics that he does not understand any ballot initiative is a matter of public record, with signatories subject to authentication and challenge?

  30. 10:45, again, show me the handbook reference that specifically says EVERY employee in the corporation is forbidden to sign a legal petition under the terms of their employment. We're not talking opinion poll petitions, but a serious leg in a democratic government process.

    What I see in my outdated handbook is that it's a judgment call, depending on circumstances that are not defined.

    I see signing a binding petition as no different than casting a vote in a referendum, which no one claims corporate employees shouldn't do.

    Why did Gannett find outing the names of anyone signing the petition to be newsworthy in the first place? I feel the same chilling attempt as Sen. Joe McCarthy's "un-American activities" hearings -- and, ironically, McCarthy was from ... Wisconsin.

  31. Meh. "Journalists" use the phrase 'constitutional right to privacy' too.

    We don't need an ethics policy nearly as much as we need a 'bare minimum of knowledge' or 'learn to Google' policy.

    (Yesterday an AP story in Wisconsin reported that Michigan Tech was going to "borrow" seismometers to the city of Clintonville. Afterwards I imagine the school was going to "learn" the city how to use them?)

  32. Everyone else who signed that petition could see journalist's signature. That's public, right on its face.

    Nobody sees who you voted for in the booth.

    The Wisconsin investigative team reported the names of judges who signed the petition for the EXACT same reason they HAD to report our journalists signed it.

    CItizens expect judges to be impartial and especially in this case, there is a high likelihood of questions ending up in courts. Citizens should expect journalists to be impartial as well, and we need to be doing a better job of enforcement and transparency if we want to say we are ANY better than Yahoo! News.

  33. Yeah, we sure are biased. Hence all the glowing coverage of Romney, Santorum and Gingrich in today's Wisconsin newspapers.

  34. 10:45, how do you know the 25 employees being disciplined signed an ethics agreement? From what has been reported, few, if any, work in the newsroom.

    Do the inserters in the press room, for example, sign an ethics acknowledgement?

    Still, no one has presented the corporate handbook sentence that would specifically prohibit any employee of the company from signing a binding petition for government referendum. I'm dubious corporate policy is unquestionable on this.

    And, I agree many people are overlooking the forest for the tree. Attacking the signers may be equally an expression of political bias.

  35. The only ones disciplined are in the newsrooms.

    The ethics policy for JOURNALISTS was what was violated by 25 of 166 people who work under that policy in Wisconsin.

    There is no such policy for inserters or the other 1000 Wisconsin employees, or independent contractors.

  36. The essence of good character is what you do when no one is looking.

    Good journalists shouldn't need a policy to tell them what is ethical.

  37. An EE wrote in public last week that this was uncharted territory. Methinks they were scrambling because they hadn't covered their asses before the recall.

    As long as I've worked for newspapers, a certain fringe says we're biased, either to the left or the right, ironically. No way we're going to convince them otherwise.

  38. Anonymous: "10:46 AM, the fact that you only talk to people who share your ideology is exactly your problem." 3/31/2012 10:52 AM

    Now there's the fine example of objectivity and fairness that Gannett apparently stands for with the crew it kept! (I'm being sarcastic, which I doubt the author will fathom.)

    We're not in third grade. Ad hominem is meaningless to the debate.

  39. 11:21 AM - Not an ad hominem, just a straightforward observation. The prior comment said he must be right because everybody he talks to agrees with him. And that's his problem.

  40. So's yer mother.

  41. 11:27, it's sad to think you're probably in a newsroom, or in corporate management. The post you attacked said no such thing as you wrote. I sure hope I don't get your biased reporting and misquotes in my news regularly.

  42. For a newspaper company allegedly devoted to the First Amendment to retaliate against employees who hold political views -- and express them by signing a petition -- is the height of hypocrisy, not to mention stupidity.

    Somewhere along the way, we've surrendered to the idea that it's impossible for liberals to present conservative views fairly, or vice versa. Of course it's not. That's the job. That's the duty.

    Caving in to whatever clod calls some morning to complain that you ran a Eugene Robinson column instead of a Thomas Sowell column (or vice versa) doesn't make you ethical. It makes you a pussy.

  43. 11:32 AM - The post in question is stamped 3/31/2012 10:46 AM, and it says precisely what I said it does.

  44. Yep, Gannett kept the best and the brightest, in other words, the cheapest and biggest boot lickers.

  45. Does the first amendment guarantee your right to a job?
    Are there going to be layoffs in April as we have all heard?
    The silence and meetings means something big must be about to happen!

  46. 10:27, factual error No. 1 in your comment is that you're referencing a she, not a he. I also hope I am not getting your work in my daily newspaper.

  47. Why does Gannett, at least the Appleton Division insist on polluting our city streets and lawns with their haphazard distribution of Bargain Bulletins and the like. Numerous calls to their offices result in a complete denial of responsibility at one end to a "Holy-than-Thou attitude of Freedom of the press".

    Since they can't seem to get it through their heads I (and apparently most of my Neighborhood)have no interest in these rags left to blow in the wind, jam up snow blowers and clog sewer intakes until they finally rot. Because of this and the fact that they won't clean it up, I have started invoicing the company for my services. I suggest everyone do the same. I charge a meager 10 per week or with a prepaid annual subscription of $500 they can get a discount. Its fair and inline with rates charges by landscapers and street sweepers (at least non-union ones)

    Make certain you follow through with you billings and if they don't pay turn in in to a collection agency or place a lien against them for non-payment.

    A Very Determined Citizen

    1. Go to your local govrnment and a litering complaint. Also, this stuff piling up on your property literally announcing you are not home. A dure invitation to make your home a target for buglsrs. Freedom of.the press has nothing to do with this. You dont want their trash thrown about your community. Make this a very public issue in front of your town council!

  48. "He" is the correct pronoun for a person whose identity and sex are unknown. But please, let's not get into a flame war over that.

  49. Ha ha ha ha ha. Your rule, eh? If I don't tell you I'm female, you get to factually assert I'm male and it will stand as accurate, because you say so. A little misogynistic, are we?

  50. Now that petitions are not just public records, but put on the Internet, and there are groups who comb through the signatures specifically to intimidate and punish the signers, anyone who signs one today should do so knowing there is the potential of retaliation.

  51. It's the gender you didn't know, 10:54, not the sex. Unless you do know what sex that woman has ...

  52. But is relatiation relevant to fair and accurate reporting? I say it is not.

    In the days when newspapers were better respected, management didn't buckle to every Tom, Dick and Harry with a political or business ax to grind and punish reporters for being thinking people and not drones. Management used to applaud pot stirrers that prompted wider intellectual debate.

    Now, it seems like Gannett's goal is to set up two -- only two -- positions on anything, and try to enforce that you're either for or against the "correct" position. Few, if any, choice in the real world is that simple.

  53. If the Gannett 25 had signed a recall petition against a conservative Republican governor, they'd have been burned at the stake on this blog, Romenesko and on the pages of the NY Times.


    This is part of the problem. They got caught breaking the rules. Stop complaining about it. You complain only because it's your agenda they supported.

  54. 8:30 However entertaining, calling someone a "made guy" gets a comment removed.

  55. 9:38 I've run the names of senior executives and board members through political contribution databases, but haven't turned up much.

  56. 10:45 I know of one site that was told by corporate that it needs to reduce beyond the early retirements, and I bet they're not the only ones.

  57. 12:03 PM - No, the word is sex, s-e-x. Gender is for grammar. Sex is for people.

  58. Our readers are passionate about religion, too. Following the "ethical guidelines" leads me to wonder if it's ethical for a Buddhist photographer to shoot a Catholic Church service, or an atheist reporter to write about homeschoolers. Wouldn't their inherent bias show through? Or are they truly professionals who can cast their bias aside when they're working?

    Let's face it, the Gannett 25 is only an issue because the tea party put the lists out on the Internet to uncover what they were sure was going to be tons of voter fraud. And Gannett caved.

    I believe most of the Wisconsin papers endorsed Walker in 2010, as well, so you can see the situation the poor publishers are in.

  59. 2:06 PM - As has been explained repeatedly, the ethical issue ultimately is pretty straightforward, and anyone who doesn't get it has no business working in a newsroom.

    As 12:27 PM rightly points out, if the other guy's ox were being gored, you and your ilk would be howling over it.

  60. 9:41, please leave the subject of journalism to real working journalists. Aren't you still running beach photos shot last summer? When do expect Brevard Times to receive any advertising? And do you actually have a design plan or just throw up anything wherever it fits?

  61. 12:27 - walker is a conservative Republican, I think you meant if he were a liberal Democrat that was the target of the petition all the newsroom lefties would have been screaming for blood. and you are right.

  62. I don't see where left or right, conservative or liberal, have anything to do with any of this. I think those are false dichotomies, contrived for the sake of keeping the people stupid and in contention with each other while the foxes raid all of our chicken houses.

    I'm sorry, 2:27, but the ethical issue is anything but straightfoward.

    The multinational Gannett Co. created a paradigm that it was "unethical" for its employees, on their own time in their private lives, to exercise their U.S. constitutional responsibility -- not just a right -- to use their one-PERSON, one-vote to move their democratic GOVERNMENT to where they see best. Gannett is neither a voter nor a government, yet tries to influence both.

    I feel like the Wisconsin 25 issue is straight out of "1984," where war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. It's Gannett whose pants-down bias is showing.

    These circumstances aren't simply general ethics or petitions. We're not talking about a Free Leonard Peltier petition. A large number of citizens saw Walker having entered in a Trojan Horse and then confirming his sole loyalty was to corporations and the anti-labor changes they sought, many say violating his oath of office to serve the people. Walker's agenda is Gannett's corporate agenda, but Gannett isn't one of the people Walker is bound to serve and it isn't even owned solely by Americans with American interests.

    This is a labor issue, not an ethics one, IMHO.

    At least, it's less a question of ethics than it is a question of law.

    Going to the dumb McDonald's analogy, what if McDonald's required an employee to wear the hat 24/7 and never wear anything but the McDonald's uniform as a term of employment? Don't you think the U.S. Department of Labor would say that's not legal?

    There are limits to at-will employment, particularly violation of constitutional rights. Might the Walker petition be seen in light of the Voting Rights Act, because that binding petition is part and parcel to an election?

    To claim that an entity taking routine services in return for a living wage entitles the entity to control the server's personal life is slavery, not employment. Slavery is unconstitutional.

    Note that some measures Walker sought and signed have since been ruled unconstitutional by the Wisconsin courts. People who signed this petition seem to me to be endorsing a second look at whether an elected leader has abided by his oath, not partisan idealogy, not right or left, not conservative or liberal.

    Did Walker fail his oath of office? Petition signers want that debate, and a new vote at the end of that debate. It's utterly good journalism to support that! I don't think any nonidealogue reader would be critical of a staffer signing that as their personal choice.

    Gannett and other corporations can put out their point of view on Walker, and no doubt will, but it's the voters, including employees, who will decide and not the corporations.

    1. 1:58 You worked in production. You have no clue about what self imposed rules journalists work under. This is a clear violation.

    2. Sorry, you worked in advertising

  63. @924 -- way way up the list -- well said. Excellent analysis. The company honchos may come to regret these cut-the-gray decisions, but so far I don't see it. Readers do regret the cuts, but company honchos aren't really in tune with readers much. They're in tune with each other - well, as much as they can tune anything.

    Thanks for your post.

  64. Ethics is supposed to be taught to those who want to be journalists in school. At least that's the way it used to be. But there are way too many people commenting here that don't get it at all which leaves me to wonder, is it all but forgotten. People can't spell anymore, many can't write anymore, and now the ethics are down the drain. It's sad for the industry. You should maintain the perception of impartiality. Always. What you do in the privacy of the voting booth is your business. What you do publicly, and a petition is public, causes you to appear biased. We all have biases, but when you're working you should leave them and the perception of them behind closed doors. If you can't, you should get out of the business.

  65. McDonalds could require wearing the uniform 24/7 as a condition of employment. Unless it went against a person's religion, it's perfectly legal.

    Remember that for six decades male facial hair was specifically prohibited for Disney theme park employees. Though it's allowed now, it still can be no longer than a quarter inch.

    Calling it slavery is ridiculous. No one is required to work as an ethical journalist, pay taxes, or wear clothes. But if you choose to participate in society you need follow the rules or face the consequences.

    Or move to Bora Bora, sign lots of petitions and run around naked. Make YOUR choice.

  66. 11:02, plenty of people in my newsroom vote in primaries, without disciplinary action. I've checked voter registration histories and know that for a fact. It's public record, just like this petition.

    It's also not newsworthy, just like this petition's signers.

    Isn't voting in a declared party primary on public record worse than simply giving official voter authorization for a mid-term redo election?

    I see Gannett very selectively applying a questionable "ethics" accusation against the Wisconsin 25. Ironically, for any of those newspapers that endorsed Walker for governor, the disciplinary action spells out for the public a far more partisan ethics violation on their part than on those staffers.

  67. On the question of legal civil rights that came up earlier, I googled and found an informative article by Dave Saldana, who describes himself as "journalist, attorney, educator." It says, in part:

    "While Gannett blithely allows that its employees have the right to vote, it differentiates here because the petitions are public record. Their staffers, accused of a career-threatening lapse of ethics, disagreed. "They equated it to casting a ballot in an election or simply calling for an election," Gannett wrote. "That rationale might work in an academic debate, but we do not make that distinction."

    Actually, that rationale might also work in a court of law. Wisconsin Statute 103.18 holds, "No person shall, by threatening to discharge a person from his or her employment or threatening to reduce the wages of a person [...] attempt to influence a qualified voter to give or withhold the voter's vote at an election."

    If I were one of the 25 Gannett Wisconsin employees singled out for discipline for participating in the democratic process and publicly accused of unethical conduct, which could substantially harm my prospects for employment and future earnings, I might consider whether Gannett has violated Statute 103.18 and defamed me in the process.

    Many supporters of Gannett's public flogging have blamed the victims here, claiming the staffers knew that they were in the wrong, because they "signed a contract" that abnegated their rights and duties as citizens. But as any first-year law student could tell you, a contract that violates public policy or statute is void. You cannot be coerced into surrendering your rights as a citizen in order to receive a paycheck."

  68. Go tell your neighbor you signed the petition and that you're an impartial journalist and see what they have to say about it.

    Now imagine people who call themselves impartial journalists publicly supported something anathema to your very core, and you're all painted with the same brush.

    There are 141 journalists in Wisconsin who either support the governor or support the ethics of their profession - but because the Wisconsin 25 have NOT been named in the papers, they are assumed to be biased by the majority of readers who won't bother to look up the names themselves.

  69. 11:29 - the key phrase in that statute is VOTE AT AN ELECTION. No one told those 25 in the newsroom how to vote. They all need to be disciplined and if they question the discipline they should be fired.

  70. Will you people, or person posting as if you are multiple people, please stop demeaning those whose opinions differ from you.

    Cracks like "putative journalist" and "if you want to work as an ethical journalist" are not a respectful way to treat a fellow journalist, if we can assume you are a journalist.

    The whole purpose of the ubiquitous but vague ethics policy, which does not expressly prohibit signing voter petitions, is to try to assure objectivity. Closed-minded people who don't consider another point of view and can't even address it respectfully aren't objective.

    It feels like you are enraged that someone would think differently than what you command we accept as an absolute ethics violation (but without any proof of that). Even the plagiarized first-person statements from the several Wisconsin editors were more open-minded about another point of view than you are.

  71. Well, 1:38 PM, those Wisconsin Gannett editors just told all their readers that, after they endorsed Walker for governor, they are now going to punish workers who asserted their civic right and responsibility to participate in an official election process that might unseat him.

    Who did the more damage to the media company's credibility: the journo who might hypothetically tell a neighbor or the corporation and its editors who just used A1 to tell all the readers and, in fact, the whole world, of their biased effort to keep their favored person in office?

    Again, this isn't just an opinion petition for anyone with a name, fake or not. It's a legally binding request from registered voters.

    Clear difference, I think. I don't sign petitions, but if I lived in Wisconsin I would not have imagined the company intended to prevent me from exercising my voting rights. I think the editors who wrote that -- claim to have written that -- and the corporate hack who probably really did write it, didn't give up their voting rights. And the ethics policy says nothing about agreeing to abnegate my voting rights.

  72. Interesting statement from 1:38: "There are 141 journalists in Wisconsin who either support the governor or support the ethics of their profession - but because the Wisconsin 25 have NOT been named in the papers, they are assumed to be biased by the majority of readers who won't bother to look up the names themselves."

    First, you confess that those who didn't sign may legitimately be assumed by readers to be partial in favor of Walker. I didn't agree with Bradblog's rationale on that one, but how ironic that you are the one who might persuade me toward it.

    The second part of your post sure does sound like you're on a personal witch hunt to "out" these 25. Do you have a personal ax to grind with some or all of them, or perhaps with journalists in general? Are you the person someone keeps saying is in another department besides news?

  73. As to the signers of the recall petition. The average reader doesn't give a rats ass. All this kvetching is inside baseball.

  74. 1:38 here. I'm the writer who works in an overwhelmingly conservative county who now has to start every interview with a query from the interviewee on whether I was one of "Them".

    I'm the writer in an overwhelming liberal district whose senator decided to flee to Illinois rather than do their job, and I wouldn't sign their recall petition because it would have been a public display of the feelings I work very hard to keep out of my writing.

    I live in the best sports-team-hometown in the country but I don't have a G flag on my front lawn.

    I voted for Walker, against Hansen and I watch the Packers on TV - but my audience knows none of that.

    That's the way it should be, and it's the way I approached my profession long before I worked for Gannett.

    Do I have a personal ax to grind? Hell yes. Not because the signers weren't named publicly, because that wouldn't matter to the people on the street. No, I'm upset because I've spent a career avoiding that perception and now I'm tarred as one of Them, the ethically challenged Gannett Wisconsin 'journalists'.

  75. You know how all Catholic priests are the butt of jokes, derided and suspected of doing unspeakable things?

    It's a result of a small percentage of bad characters, and the 'corporate' effort of the Church to cover up the issue over many years.

    The difference here is the lapse of good judgement isn't whitewashed by our leadership. Unfortunately, the bad characters in this case will also taint the public's view of the many innocents.

  76. 1:38, you already are ethically challenged because you are a Walker supporter who is actively doing what's available to you secretly to suppress the recall vote.

    How do you justify your strong partisan feelings -- so much so you pit this as an "us vs. them"-- as suited for objective journalism just because you keep it secret?!

    On the other hand, those who signed a petition for debate and a recall ballot may decide to vote for Walker, too. You don't know just because they asked for the debate and ballot.

    I think you and Gannett corporate are on this retaliation kick as a means to suppress the Wisconsin Gannett employees' vote in the recall election. Those who might have planned to vote probably have now thought again about that, fearing threat or loss of their jobs.

    Vote caging is illegal in most states, and I wonder how big a stretch things like this really are from that.

  77. 7:51 PM - You seem like the type who'd rather die than take advice, but here's some anyway: Stop digging.

  78. 7:51 - oh, where to begin.

    Where is there any benefit to GWM or Gannett as a whole if Walker stays or goes?

    How is disciplining 25 people for publicly not respecting the standards of their profession going to suppress the PRIVATE vote of them or the other thousand-plus GWM employees?

    How is 1:38 'actively doing what he/she can to suppress a recall vote' - an election on June 5, btw - by having an 'inside baseball' discussion of ethics amongst primarily out-of-state journalists?

    Lastly, 7:51, give your fellow journalists some credit. Many have passionate feelings about many topics. They aren't keeping them secret because they are trying to subvert or pull one over on anyone. They are keeping them private. They certainly have the right to publicly advocate their positions, but as in any arena anywhere, standing up can get you shot down.

  79. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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