Thursday, February 14, 2008

Burn the bridges

Here's a lovely series of email memos, by way of The Arkansas Times blog, touched off by a blunt newsroom email sent to employees of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by State Editor Marilyn Mitchell, who promptly walked out. This has got to be among the all-time winners in "take this job and shove it" memos:

Subject: Fuck the glass
Date: February 14, 2008 8:36:31 AM CST
All I wanted to do at this newspaper is to do a good job. I came here because I thought it was a good newspaper. But, it's not. It's a good ole' boys club made up of old white males. Nobody else has a voice. This is a newspaper in which: The city editor can verbally abuse another editor in the presence of the managing editor and nothing is done. The managing editor in a news meeting slugs a potential 1A story as blonde bombshells - a story in which bombs were strapped on two retarded foreign women and sent into a crowd. Male editors are allowed to talk about penis size during news meetings. Editors call Hispanics wetbacks in news meetings Editors are proud to call blacks niggers in news stories. A city editor gets his feelings hurt over coverage of a story and I'm penalized for it. The managing editor is a bald face liar and the executive editor doesn't give a damn. So to "the glass," I resign effective immediately. Marilyn Mitchell

From: Bill Simmons
Date: February 14, 2008 10:11:20 AM CST
To: Marilyn Mitchell , To-All-systemwide
Cc: To-all-LR , To-all-NW
Subject: Re: Fuck the glass

As an old white male, let me offer a few thoughts for perspective (and not
to set off an onslaught of similar missives):

1. In my dozen years here, I have NEVER seen anybody (editor or otherwise)
"proud" that the "n-word" was used anywhere. I can't say nobody was, because
I can't be everywhere all the time, but I can say I NEVER saw anybody
manifest any such attitude when I was around.

2. The reference to "wetbacks" has a history -- a history of disagreement
over whether the term is acceptable in any usage, with most editors here
believing it is not. Sometimes the term is used in derision of the view that
using it is acceptable, not in furtherance of its use.

3. I suppose some males will discuss penis size in the news meetings (boys
being boys), and I have heard in long ago meetings some remarks that were
offensive. But this hasn't happened in any recent news meeting that I
attended and it is not appropriate to convey the idea that this is standard
practice in the meetings.

4. The "blonde bombshells" complaint omits the fact that every day some
quipish summary of each leading news items of the day's leading is posted on
the board. When the governor makes a speech, it may be "Beebe's lips move."
When an Al Quaida leader was blown up by a car bomb, it was "Bad Guy Goes
Boom!" And political in-fighting in Pakistan will become "Pakitics." And so
on. The reference to "blonde bombshells" had no sexist nuance that I
perceived, any more than "Econ Tanks" (a summary of a downturn in the
economy) was expressing approval of a recession or anything else. Practicing
humor has its risks, and one of them is being misperceived and distorted.

1 comment:

dogimo said...

Wow. It just leaves you wondering who to trust. We don't really get enough of a sense of these people to judge, though. What about this Ms. Mitchell and this Mr. Simmons? Is either one of them a wetback? An n-word? Is Ms. Mitchell VERY sexually attractive?

See, knowing that would let me draw some conclusions as to who to sympathize with, here.