Newspaper Puts Reporter On Leave For Posting Link To Article About His Employer On Facebook

from the the-stupidity.-it-burns. dept

We’ve mocked various newspapers for their ridiculous “social media policies” in the past — which often try to limit how reporters engage with the community. The whole notion seems backwards. But now one newspaper — the Colorado Gazette — has taken things to ridiculous extremes: putting reporter Barrett Tryon on administrative leave for posting a link to a news story about his own newspaper on Facebook. Apparently, the Colorado Gazette’s parent company, Freedom Communications, was purchased by a company called 2100 Trust. Soon after that happened, the LA Times reported that the company expected to spin off some of the smaller newspapers, including the Gazette. Given all of this, Tryon posted the following to his Facebook page:

The text is a direct quote from the LA Times. The “content director” for the Gazette apparently told Tryon that he had to take down the status update, saying he needed to “remove it per our social media policy which you signed upon employment.” The claim was that “this does not meet our standards of factual information” and thus was “perpetuating rumor…”

This is, of course, crazy. Tryon, rightly, pushed back and refused, and there was some back and forth (detailed at that link above) eventually leading to a “referral to human resources” for possible disciplinary action. Tryon, reasonably worried, sought to bring his lawyer to the meeting. However, HR told him that the original meeting was cancelled, and that since the company’s own lawyer couldn’t be there it would be “one-sided” for him to bring his own lawyer. Instead… they placed him on administrative leave, despite no actual meeting or chance to hear his side of the story.

Yes, the end result is that a reporter for a newspaper has basically been suspended from his job for the sin of posting a link to a credible news source about something that was happening with his own company. And people wonder why these kinds of newspapers are having trouble staying in business (or attracting top talent). Who would ever want to work for this newspaper?

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Companies: 2100 trust, colorado gazette, freedom communications

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Comments on “Newspaper Puts Reporter On Leave For Posting Link To Article About His Employer On Facebook”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

reporter for a newspaper has basically been suspended from his job for the sin of posting a link to a credible news source

Reporters fired for reporting news? Does anyone else find it funny when newspapers argue that we need old-guard, brick and mortar news sources to do real journalism?

Yeah, that’s what we need. More “news” papers like the Colorado Gazette.

Brent (profile) says:

‘i know someone’ that works for a newspaper and over the past few years, her stories about the paper’s attempts to stay relevant and to stay profitable have been pretty entertaining. I always tell her that her company should be a case study for what NOT to do when revenues are declining rapidly. She’s in sales and the company has reduced the primary incentive to sell (commissions) as well as eliminating any possibility of it being a ‘real’ job since they also took away her base salary. In a field where advertising sales are rapidly declining, they base her job performance on ‘new clients that pay’ instead of overall sales and refuse bonuses for reaching 140% of her quarterly sales goal b/c she didn’t get 5 new customers (but got existing customers to spend more). Then the final blow came when they tried to make her sign a non-compete agreement that would prevent her from working in the ‘media’ industry for 2 years after leaving that employer (either involuntarily or by choice). They apparently thought that would keep their employees loyal..but since she didn’t have to sign one during her first 14 years there, she left.

I have no sympathy for the current state of the print news industry as its clear that their big business mentality (in this case at least) has kept them separate from the reality in which their customers live. Sounds like some other industries commonly featured on this site…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I guess nobody explained to them that after customers, their employees were their most valuable asset.

It amazes me how many corporations get this wrong… they focus on product and abuse employees, assuming that the employees need them more than they need the employees.

When the economy went downhill, I saw more companies doing this than ever before – almost like they took advantage of “tough times” to rape their employees and dare them to leave.

Well, I left when that happened (after 10 years employment), and I’m happier today for it 🙂

Yartrebo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s just what Marxist economics predicts. A reserve army of the unemployed to beat down those who are employed. It doesn’t just come in the form of wages (which are declining), but in the form of the conditions on the job.

It probably does effect the quality of the product they deliver and it certainly is a social ill, but that shouldn’t effect next quarter’s profit.

Anonymous Coward says:

look. he signed the agreement. he should have taken the link down.

is this stupid? yes. very much so. but, and here is the but, he had already agreed to abide by this stupidity.

in the end he should have taken the link down and then either renegotiated the terms of his employment, or found ones with better conditions.

see above, to this story:

the person was offered a condition of employment that they did not agree with and left.

by continuing his employment after being presented terms that were of this nature he was enabling the newpaper. yes, just like a bad relationship or someone with drugs.

these rules will only go away if we stop agreeing to them. say “No”, make them change to be employed.

or, get in line and follow the ones you agreed to. if there is a proper channel in your office to change them, work on that. but, esp in work for hire states, this isn’t democracy, this is corporations.

sux, eh?

Lord Binky says:

Re: Re:

He signed the agreement in confidence that the company would be competent in identifying facts. However, the company is changing definitions of words to use the agreement however they want. “Standards of factual information” is basically being used to say “our opinion” because even if he posted that “The earth is not flat” they could say that it does not meet THEIR standards of facts, regardless of the actual fact of the statement.

Anonymous Coward says:

There is always this misconception that Human Relations are there for the employees. What it’s actually there for is to protect the management. This is what this Human Relations group has once again proven.

I used to work at a company who had the motto of “Our people are our greatest resource”. Then merger mania hit and it was lay off people left and right for 10 years +. At some point HR tried to bring the motto back. It was laughed to a still death by the employees who were taught the dollar was everything and that loyalty and job performance had no value.

Here is a newspaper that won’t last much longer. They simply don’t get why. The idea that brick and mortar costs far more than internet is a disruptive idea they will never recover from. The paper shows why in the actions it takes with its employee.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The problem is, that they have to redefine their source of income when they hit the internet.

Newspapers are simple. Paid by subscribers and advertisement, they have got an easy to predict income and they have taken advantage of that for a long time. With their media getting pushed back, they have to make cuts or try and make up the money in another fashion. News on the internet is not a golden goat of advertising money and people willing to subscribe.

Since they really do not know any other way to make money, they are slowly dying unless someone takes them under their wings and teach them how to do things in a new way. Local newspapers need to connect with their local community and get them to see the values of the paper and make debates in different media about how the communions want it. I would call it going back to the roots. If they are stubborn and keep refusing to adapt to their readers, I would not be surprised to see the papers name in their obituary.

Charles says:

Gazette doesn't qualify as a newspaper

I live in Colorado Springs and can honestly say that we don’t have a real newspaper here. The Colorado Springs Gazette is so biased to the right that even local ‘news’ stories are editorialized beyond belief. The other paper, the weekly ‘Independent’, is unreasonably biased to the left. (and is one of the sources cited above)
Whether there is merit here I don’t know. I DO know that the Independent aggressively reports on anything to do with the Gazette. I also know that the Gazette was not known for being ‘warm and fuzzy’ even before their acquisition by 2100.
The real problem for the Pikes Peak area is that we have no unbiased source for local news. Both papers have given up on objective reporting in favor of ‘preaching to the choir’. Sure the Indy or the Gazette will still occasionally break a real story. But that’s in spite of the management and culture at both papers, not because of it. It’s like your ONLY sources of news being Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken. How can one possibly piece together the truth from 2 horribly skewed viewpoints?

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