Several e-mails recently, soliciting my opinion on the firing of a supposedly professional member of the news media, whose employment with THE (DENVER) POST was terminated after he published a tweet as response to the winner of the Indianapolis 500, 2017.
If the Twitter account used was provided by his now-former employer his decision to use their resources in this manner demonstrates an undeniable lack of professionalism on his part, along with his unabashed lack of maturity and responsibility. If the account was a personal Social Media account, but people knew who he was and what he did for a living – again, his actions were unprofessional and immature. Additionally, as a supposed professional whose living is derived from Free Speech, he should have known through formal education and experience and accepted the responsibility and burden that comes of this most precious right within the United States of America. His actions demonstrated utter contempt and disrespect for Free Speech and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America – which goes to the overall reality of news media presently, and why, in general, it is on a path of ruin and demise.
His choice to do what he did and the subsequent response from his now-former employer represent a larger, undeniable, and uglier truth within much of the news media in the State of Colorado: Racism, bigotry, prejudice, anti-Semitism, sexism, discrimination, hatemongering, sedition, and treason are acceptable within the framework of the news media as long as they advance the partisan political agenda of the so-called professional news organization involved. THE (DENVER) POST, which has a well-documented and well-known history of such practices, and its dishonest response to the inappropriate action by an employee – they prefer the derogatory term “worker” – only serves to reinforce this truth and reality. If THE (DENVER) POST were a professional news organization, which merited respect and deserved credibility, it would have addressed this behavior years ago when the newspaper still had the opportunity to be considered professional and legitimate. The latest expression of lip service, which is nothing more than self-serving damage control and an outright lie, and public response from executive management, demonstrate that such things are not warranted.
To be fair to THE (DENVER) POST this business model is not restricted to them or their parent company, Digital First Media. It is, unfortunately, the favored and preferred business model of Gannett, Scripps, and The McClatchy Company, among others: Partisan politics over objective fact and truth presented with professionalism, maturity, civility, and respect.
If the now-former employee of THE (DENVER) POST had prefaced his employment-ending tweet with another tweet it is likely he would still be employed with the newspaper and held up as a hero and standard for other members of the news media: If he had asserted – without benefit of relevant fact – that the 2017 winner of the Indianapolis 500 had voted for Donald J. Trump; that he were a Christian, Jew, Catholic, or Mormon; that he had served in the Armed Forces; that he had been a member of law enforcement prior to becoming a professional auto racecar driver; that he opposed “recreational marijuana”; that he opposed homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality; that he believed in God, the subsequent tweet which expressed racism, bigotry, prejudice, and hatemongering would have been allowed, and the executive management of THE (DENVER) POST would have made excuses in his defense.
No one should pity this supposedly professional member of the news media. He made his choices, and must accept the consequences of his actions. As to his current employment status – he will eventually be presented as a victim of circumstance, and will be employed again as a professional member of the news media, wherein he will superficially redeem himself because few members of the news media presently are held accountable and responsible for their actions while demanding such things of everyone else.
As to THE (DENVER) POST: If the majority owner of Digital First Media, the parent company of THE (DENVER) POST, Alden Global Capital, was sincere about realizing a healthy return on its investment it would use this as opportunity make Digital First Media into a professional, legitimate, and credible news organization through the process known as “cleaning house”: The firing of Chief Executive Officer of THE (DENVER) POST, Michael Tully, and the editor of the newspaper, Lee Ann Colacioppo; the firing of Albert Manzi, CEO of Prairie Mountain Media, a subsidiary of Digital First Media; the firing of the editor of THE DAILY CAMERA, Kevin Kaufman; the firing of the publisher/editor of THE ESTES PARK TRAIL-GAZETTE, Michael Romero; the firing of the editor of THE TIMES-CALL, John Vahlenkamp; the firing of the Managing Editor of THE REPORTER-HERALD, Jeff Stahla; the firing of Publisher and General Manager of THE CANON CITY RECORD, Karl Wurzbach because all of them are responsible for content published in the newspapers and on the Social Media platforms of Digital First Media that is far worse than what was tweeted by their now-former comrade; including a comment explicitly calling for the assassination of the President of the United States of America.
As to the other news organizations referenced – they would do well to learn from this event and proceed accordingly. It is unlikely they will do so and, like Digital First Media, will meet an unfortunate end.