Khristopher Brooks, Young Reporter Fired Over A Press Release [Q&A]
1 year ago
Detroit native says he was just showing his excitement for new job at a Delaware newspaper
KB: I just told my immediate editor what the post was about. And he said, ‘Oh, that sounds okay.’ And then Romenesko left a message for another editor…who is not my immediate editor…and around a quarter to six, (local editor) Phil Freedman called me and told me (the press release) was an illegal use of the company logo and I wasn’t supposed to quote from the offer letter that I got…and that they wanted to rescind my job offer because of that.
Loop 21: How did you react? Did they try to explain how they arrived to the decision?
KB: I was at a loss for words, at that point. I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do this.’ And then I asked them if I could take it down and he was like, ‘It’s out of our hands.’ And I was like, ‘Wow. I guess I’ll let you go.’
Loop 21: So, you hang up. What’s going through your head?
KB: When I found out I didn’t have the job anymore, I thought to myself, ‘Whew! I dodged a bullet.’ I hadn’t found an apartment down there yet. And I was thinking, if I found one and I had given them the (security) deposit, I would have been out of that money. It was a huge blessing that I didn’t sign a lease. But, I had just bought a car.
Loop 21: Do you believe that this was something that came directly from newsroom management?
KB: The editors there are still really liked. David Ledford, the guy who I quote (in the press release), I still really like that guy. And I believe he still really likes me. I can’t bring myself to believe that it was their unilateral decision. If it was up to them, maybe they would have tried to figure out a way that I could take (the blog post) down. And (act like) it never happened and they can keep me on staff. I can’t fault them for doing something someone higher up told them to do.
Loop 21: I’m sure you’ve already seen a lot of the online chatter about your predicament. Some people are positive, and others are really negative.
KB: I don’t fault any of the people who commented negatively. I think that needs to be there. I think that’s part of the discussion. The way I see it…they are not really attacking me. They’re attacking the issue. ‘Should we be allowed to do that?’ I feel like I was the one who created that conversation, because it had never been there. If you’re going to have a discussion, you’ve got to have the people who think what I did was boneheaded. At the end of the day, if it turns out that the industry has decided that you don’t do this…then you just don’t do it.