Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Death Star Takes a Hit

Furthering my discussion of catching up down below, and about the Memphis Flyer's John Branston's look at the ever-evolving Commercial Appeal, a reader points me to this Memphis Daily News article on the labor troubles at the daily.
But 1997 also was the year a relentless, quietly successful Nashville attorney counseled the SR through negotiations that resulted in the decertification of an employees' union at the paper. Almost a decade later, both of those men - the SR's then-editor Chris Peck and Nashville attorney L. Michael Zinser - are embroiled in another labor dispute, this time one that's rocked the Commercial Appeal.

The latest development in this long-running drama at the CA came Feb. 15. That's when J. Daniel Breen, U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee, dismissed a lawsuit Zinser had filed against the Newspaper Guild of Memphis, dealing what appears to be a crushing legal blow to the paper, Memphis Publishing Co. and Zinser himself.
It makes me wonder to what extent these labor problems precipitated the exit of former publisher John Wilcox?

The daily is loathe to discuss its internal business, which is something that I've always found inordinately amusing in a company whose business is ferreting out information to give to the public. Why only today they pummel the Mayor (oh... OK, they buffet him with baby fingers) for not being forthcoming.

So why hide their need to trim costs to retain profitability? Is it that they are more interested in maintaining the aura of the priesthood of the Order of Journalism? Are they still clinging to the ideal of journalists standing on a pedestal like Gods above mere mortal men, like doctors once did? Is admitting to the green stains on their fingers somehow demeaning? We all already know that self-interest is always a factor in story selection, point of view and in editorial decisions.

Reading Editor in Chief Chris Peck's occasional Sunday columns, the answer would have to be an unquestionable and resounding YES. He reeks of the smoke of churchly incense. And that's rather sad.

The CA preaches the Gospel of Openness and Transparency. They should practice it as well.

No comments: