We lost an SPJ member last night – and probably more.
Fellow SPJ leaders, please indulge me.
Yesterday, former board member Tom Johnson shared a link from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution – yet another Georgia journalist is facing jail time.
This is actually an old story that SPJ Georgia (a recent Circle of Excellence winner in my region) has been tracking. Just last night, I was on the phone listening to the chapter’s board meeting, and it was briefly mentioned.
Yet for some reason, at-large director Bill McCloskey sent the following email to the AJC reporter – a swell guy named Chris Joyner, who SPJ Georgia is recruiting for its board…
Not sure what Bill is complaining about? Me neither. So I asked him. He’s referring to those paid-sponsor links at the bottom of many news stories. They’re placed by companies with silly names like Taboola and Outbrain. Here’s an example from today’s Washington Post…
…but until I explained this to him, Bill didn’t understand these were ads. He thought Joyner’s newspaper put those there, and he didn’t like one of them.
Of course, reporters have nothing to do with ads, so here’s how Joyner replied to McCloskey…
Thanks for the note. I and my colleagues work really hard to produce journalism with impact amid higher expectations from our bosses and readers alike.
For us, the reward is occasionally fighting for the right cause. It’s times like that when we can put aside the ever-present fear that our industry isn’t going to survive long enough for me to sit down at a keyboard, pick up a phone or get that one additional document that will be the next solid piece of journalism.
The other great reward is getting a sanctimonious bullshit email from some SPJ board member several states away lodging a complaint wrapped in a halfhearted compliment — a complaint he knows good and well is going to the wrong person. That really makes it sing for me, Bill. Thanks for making the day complete.
PS I’m copying my editor in case you want to bark your “The View” complaints up the chain at Cox. He’s not responsible for it either.
So that’s not good. This is the first time Joyner has ever heard from a national SPJ leader, and he’s calling “sanctimonious bullshit.” Bill replied…
I’m sorry you took it that way. You are right, I knew it was going to the wrong person, but I have no easy access to the Cox suits, presumably you do. If you don’t care and they don’t care about the company’s reputation, so be it.
Again thanks for exposing this story. I hope SPJ considers supporting this woman’s legal defense. Without your story, we would not have known about it.
Trust me, I’m not criticizing you.
That’s…better? “I’m sorry you took it that way”? Joyner kept taking it that way…
A non-apology apology? With a new insult suggesting I don’t care about my company’s (or presumably my own) journalistic reputation? Thanks, Bill. The cherry on the sundae.
That said, SPJ should definitely support Nydia Tisdale. She is on the ground doing something because she thinks it’s important and without pro-bono legal help she’d likely be in jail right now.
This morning, SPJ president Lynn Walsh stepped away from an FOIA conference she’s attending in DC, just so she could calm an outraged SPJ Georgia on the phone. Don’t forget, this chapter is already irked that another local journalist, Mark Thomason, was arrested for making a public records request – and SPJ National didn’t even mention his standing ovation at EIJ. No less than Wells Key winner Carolyn Carlson told national leaders…
I think SPJ Georgia was better off when SPJ National ignored them.
As for McCloskey, he’s unapologetic, emailing me, “It takes about 15 seconds to forward an email, much less time than to write a strident reply to a note of thanks.”
Now, I love Bill McCloskey. We’ve sat on the board since 2008 – the two longest-serving directors. He’s been a mentor to me. I replied, “You know I look up to you. But this was a major fuck-up.” Let us count the ways…
- A national SPJ national leader insults a media company over online advertising he doesn’t understand.
- That leader asks a reporter to take time out of his busy day to pass along the ill-informed complaint – because he has “no easy access to the Cox suits.”
- When the reporter complains about “getting a sanctimonious bullshit email,” that SPJ leader is only sorry the reporter “feels that way.”
- Finally, that leader says the reporter could’ve easily passed along his message instead of wasting time whining.
Not that this matters, but Chris Joyner is a big deal in Georgia journalism. He writes the AJC’s Watchdog column. Guess what his opinion of SPJ is right now? Guess what he’s likely to tell anyone who ever mentions our name?
This morning, SPJ Georgia’s president-elect told Lynn Walsh and myself that he expects a full-throated apology from Bill. I hope to hell that happens. It hasn’t yet.
Why am I writing all this, and asking you to read this far? Because I’m requesting of this board and all SPJ leaders…
If you’re not the regional director for that area, please don’t contact reporters directly until you chat up the RD. They might know some stuff about that particular situation. And please, please stop insulting potential members.
This open letter is on a public but hidden web page not available from the navigation of this website. I’m only sharing it with SPJ leaders. For now.