SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2009
Letters from the Herald’s editor
The following excerpts from emails between Stephen Kimber and Dan Leger—the Chronicle Herald’s director of news content—are about Kimber’s "Victims of the Herald" story.
POSTED BY LETTERS EDITOR ON SAT, MAR 28, 2009 AT 3:04 PM
I guess this is what happens when a person doesn’t make time for a sit-down interview with you, eh?
I’ve attached a rundown of basic journalistic errors and omissions in your piece that appeared today in The Coast. I’d expect some of them from a first-year student, but from such an eminent professor, it’s really disappointing. You didn’t even spell Joel Jacobson’s name right, and it’s printed in the paper four times a week. —Dan
I’ve tried to deal with the individual points you raise below. As you know, it’s always more difficult to get a complete story when not everyone will talk to you. That said, and acknowledging my dumb, Journalism 101 mistake in the spelling of Joel’s name, I stand by what I wrote. —Stephen
I consider it unethical of you to suggest that the story’s errors and distortions are caused by the lack of an interview with me. You don’t get to make things up just because an interview can’t be scheduled according to your deadlines.
I also think you should also have declared a conflict over this whole piece, as a long-time columnist for a rival newspaper that was shut down and caused you a loss of earnings. Your coverage of the Herald can’t be considered impartial. —Dan
I didn’t "suggest that the story’s errors and distortions are caused by the lack of an interview with me." What I said was not being able to question you as a representative of management made it "more difficult" for me to get the complete story.
As for me needing to declare a conflict of interest: You were a long-time CBC employee, so should the Herald acknowledge the possibility of a conflict every time it publishes a story about the CBC?
While I am indeed critical in the piece of how some Herald management responded to the current crisis at the paper, I was also publicly critical of certain actions of management at the Daily News before—and after—its demise. —Stephen
The list of Dan Leger’s complaints
Statement from the story: Paying readers were cancelling subscriptions, preferring to get their news faster and for "free" online.
Response from Leger: Circulation is holding or rising. Our audited circulation numbers have shown we are holding our own.
Kimber’s reply: If you read this section again, you’ll see that I’m referring to newspapers generally rather than to the Herald specifically. As you have acknowledged elsewhere, "free" online content is one problem facing newspapers today.
Statement: Management also spent what the union suggested was $7 million moving…into new and lavish leased digs.
Leger: The $7 million number is not even close to the real cost. And lavish? Come on. You’ve never even been in the place.
Kimber: This could have been cleared up easily if the Herald said how much the move cost. I did the best I could with what I had: The union "suggested;" the company "refuses to say…"
Statement: Somehow, word of the union-management session leaked to other media. Leger…openly accused business reporter Judy Myrden…of being the source.
Leger: Please cite a source for this. I never discussed this with Judy.
Kimber: I have several sources. I would have been happy to include your denial if I’d had the opportunity to interview you.
Statement: Stewart became full-time…in part because management forgot to let her go when her initial…contract expired.
Leger: This is not only incorrect, it is a grievous insult to Jennifer.
Kimber: The source of this "grievous insult" was Jennifer Stewart herself.
Statement: the Herald’s no-overtime policy.
Leger: There is no such thing as a no-overtime policy. People work overtime almost every day. It must be approved by a senior manager.
Kimber: I should have been more careful in my description here. The story has specific examples of overtime "restrictions."
Statement: (On CBC TV Leger declared) the lost reporters mere "bells and whistles."
Leger: Go review the tape, as any good journalist would. I did not describe laid-off staffers as "mere bells and whistles."
Kimber: "Mere" was my word; it’s not included in the quote.