Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Big Newspaper Row in Connecticut Gets Uglier

The battle royale between the Hartford Courant and its fired consumer columnist, George Gombossy, is ratcheting up in ugliness. Today Gombossy published on his blog a list of key advertisers "I was to be nice with."

The list can be found here. It is a long list.

He calls it "the list of prime advertisers The Courant gave me so that I would know to ring the alarm bell at [Courant senior veep Jeff] Levine’s office in case I even considered writing one negative word about them. Other Courant reporters and columnists have received similar orders recently."

I was directed by The Courant’s top management to write nothing negative about them in my columns or blogs, nor approve of any reader negative comment, without first giving top management a chance to censor and potentially kill the offending item. The list – which includes state agencies – applies to all Courant reporters and columnists.
It seems to me that the Courant has some 'splaining to do, and falling back on the "we can't comment because of potential litigation" just won't wash.

This is, or should be, a major scandal. Gombossy (who I've never met, by the way) was not some recently hired snot nose kid but a 42-year veteran and a former business editor of the paper. It is not only an example of really bush league journalistic non-ethics, but also managerial stupidity. When the geniuses at the paper fired Gombossy did they really think he wouldn't squawk?

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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