Is it 1984 in the St Paul Pioneer Press Newsroom?
Paul Demko writes in the Twin Cites alternative paper, City Pages, about one Tim Mahoney, a part-time copy editor who attended the big September peace rally in Washington with other members of his church.
Mahoney got a stern talking-to, a three-day suspension without pay, and was removing from editing any stories about Iraq. He was told he'd be fired for a repeat offense.
The paper claimed, as it has claimed previously in another case now making its way through the grievance system--two reporters attended a rock concert that raised funds for the Kerry campaign--that Mahoney's actions were a violation of the paper's ethics policies.
Now, you know that I can be pretty loud when I see ethics violations. As the author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, a columnist for Business Ethics magazine, and the originator of an international pledge campaign around ethics, I think I've got some credentials in this area. And while I certainly see the ethics issues if a reporter gets involved with partisan political activity that he or she is actively covering (did someone say "Judith Miller"?), I fail to find the justification here. Journalists are allowed to have personal politics, last time I checked. And a copy editor isn't even creating the story, merely making sure that it's internally consistent with its own logic and the rules of English.
This strikes me as a punitive action on the part of a newspaper that doesn't happen to agree with the stand the reporter took, and is trying to pre-emptively prevent other staffers form expressing their opinions. It reminds me of the time an employee of one of the two major soda companies was fired for drinking the competitor's product, outside of work if I remember correctly.
No one should have to leave their soul outside on the way to work.