Friday, September 07, 2007

More Testimony and Another Resignation

This morning at the News-Press hearing on charges brought by the NLRB, former Life section editor Andrea Huebner was on the stand. Most of her testimony was about the circumstances surrounding the cancellation of reporter Starshine Roshell's popular column in August of 2006 after she had used that forum to express her admiration for the editors of the paper who had chosen to resign.

Huebner recounted a meeting with her superior, Scott Steepleton, who informed her that he had been told that in order remove the appearance of bias, all staff written columns were being canceled. This would also make room for more stories on local people.

When Huebner asked whether the same policy, which management at the time later described as a "business plan," applied to the reporters in the Sports section who wrote columns Steepleton told her "not at this time."

Thus the only staff writer who was affected by the change and thus would have her column canceled would be Roshell. Huebner pointed this out to Steepleton and suggested that it could have the appearance of being retaliatory against Roshell for her pro union sentiments and perhaps someone ought to reconsider. Steepleton refused to pass along Huebner's concerns to whomever he was taking orders from.

After Huebner informed Roshell about the decision Roshell requested a meeting with Steepleton and Huebner. Upon being so informed, Steepleton told Huebener that he didn't think Roshell had the right, as a reporter, to request such a meeting. Huebner who was an editor then requested the meeting, to which Steepleton replied he wasn't sure if she had the right either and that he would check and get back to her.

Someone should have told Steepleton that anybody has a right to request anything. Whether he wants to grant it is his business. And by the way, we are still waiting to see those additional stories on local people in all of that space that has been freed up on Sunday mornings.

* * *

In my earlier post from today I told you about the resignation of long-time printing facility employee Matt Armstrong from the News-Press. Now I have a second resignation to report. Copy desk chief Charles Bucher, whose name has come up a lot at the hearing, is resigning. His last day will be September 12.

Bucher briefly served as assistant managing editor and the top editor in the newsroom shortly after the July 6 resignations of the top managers.

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