Parting shots

Dateline: Wed 08 Jun 2011

Thanks to Nic Martin, who sent the following piece from Slate by Jack Shafer. The subject is "I would have loved to piss on your shoes," or parting shots from journalists who are fired or have quit.

The link:

Before sharing a few excerpts from Shafer, here are exit strategies I recall from reporters who left the Indianapolis Star and, in one case, the Evansville Press.

Star columnist, investigative reporter and city editor Dick Cady simply walked out, with his finger held loftily in the air. Nonchalant, as always.

But Robin Miller, Star sports writer and columnist, called his handlers at Gannett "corporate c--ksuckers" in a parting shot. Or maybe that was the line that led to his departure.

City editor Paula Jarrett taped her "goodbye and f--- you" manifesto on the door of nemesis editor Nancy Winkley for all the world to see.

There must be a lot of bald-headed f---ers in the news business, because I can recall two anecdotes where journalists referred to their bosses in farewell as bald-headed etc. One was at the Evansville Press, where a talented writer said at least he would no longer have to work for that bald-headed etc. Bill Burleigh.

Timidity, obviously, is not a quality many journalists share, although passive-aggressive we are. Hence the coined term "shy egomaniacs," which was used to describe members of a political press corps on some long-ago campaign in D.C., but fits nicely across the board.

Here are some bon mots from Shafer:

"It's been a rough few years here, mainly because of the jackasses in Chicago who own us. To them I say, with as much gusto as I can muster in an email, fuck you."
Dan Neil, upon leaving the Los Angeles Times for the Wall Street Journal, February 2010.

"Jesus spent three days in Hell. … I could only handle one."
Richard Morgan, who quit after one day, January 2008.

"How do you expect the dedicated and loyal reporters at the [Akron] Beacon Journal to keep putting out a quality paper when you're eliminating nearly a quarter of the reporting staff? You faceless corporate hacks take a break from your golf game long enough to
scream that circulation must stay up, but then you order arbitrary budget cuts that force the elimination of entire sections of the Sunday paper. And when that's not enough, you order layoffs that eliminate
the very employees who have helped keep circulation from falling. Seriously, the kid who changes the oil in my car could run Knight Ridder with more foresight than you."

"Don't worry about me; I'll land on my feet. I don't regret coming here, even though I've been laid off now. In fact, my only regret is that you haven't come to visit the Beacon Journal. I would have loved to piss on your shoes."
Mark Schlueb*, in a letter to Knight Ridder CEO Tony Ridder, April 2001.


hendy [Member] said:

Great visual.

2011-06-08 09:20:04

Nicolas Martin [unverified] said:

Why are they so gusty as quitters but so meek as journocrats? They seem to become empowered just when the doors are about to hit their butts.

2011-06-08 17:29:37

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Nic raises a good point.

Still, a great link and the shoe thing is priceless.

Best fired-employee story I ever heard:

A northern Indiana bank vice president was brought into a family-owned bank to sort out the rival cousins and make the bank profitable. He had a 20-year career at a similar-sized bank, and was sharp as a tack. He succeeded, but he had to butt heads. Alas, one cousin was ousted. The bank doubled its deposits and profitability in five years.

Then favored cousin suddenly dropped dead, and the hired gun was called in to see the vanquished cousin...the same cousin who was now in charge by virtue of the Bank Cousin Succession Act.

The hired gun was fired on the spot.

He professionally thanked the asshole cousin for the opportunity to serve the family, calmly left this office, went next door to a market, bought four chicken breasts, and then went into the safe-deposit box room, shut the door, and took a huge dump in a vacant safety deposit box, and left the chicken breasts. He locked it up, left and packed his office. He retired with a handsome contractually-provided severance package.

For days, the bank aired-out the area around that safety-deposit box room thinking they had some mildew problems. But it got steadily worse.

Once the truth was discovered a week or so later, it was hugely hilarious. The vanquished-cousin-turned President wrote a public thank you to the dismissed bank officer:

"Your final act taught me a lot and I respect it. Thanks."

So he did have a touch of class.

A few days later

2011-06-08 21:49:14

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