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Uptown Paper Edits Scribe’s Final Goodbye

jjEither that or longtime Observer sports reporter Stan Olson doubled back to edit himself on his final blog post yesterday afternoon.

The original version of Olson’s post, recovered via Bing cache:

Olson: I’ve been decommitted by the Big O

Good afternoon and goodbye.

Although my College Recruiting blog has consistently recorded some of the highest web hit totals at The Observer, the economy has made more cuts at the newspaper necessary, and the knife got me last week. It felt more like a two-by-four, and came as a total surprise after almost four decades at the paper.

This is a McClatchy-wide thing, as the company tries to pay down debt. My editors were all very supportive and disappointed at my departure, and we part as friends.

I won’t say I’m happy about it, obviously.

I was already working half-time, and loving all of this recruiting noise.

And I think I’ll miss the Tar Heels fans the most—while I criticized their class, in-state and out, they were right that Butch Davis would finish strong—he and his staff are killing it today, and I’d like to be available for my verbal whipping.

Anyway, take care, send all your tips to Ken Tysiac, who is a great guy and a talented writer, and I’ll be around.

And now the edited version, which omits any reference to McClatchy:

This is my last post, because of staff reductions at The Observer.

I think I’ll miss the Tar Heels fans the most—while I criticized their class, in-state and out, they were right that Butch Davis would finish strong—he and his staff are killing it today, and I’d like to be available for my verbal whipping.

Anyway, take care, send all your tips to Ken Tysiac, who is a great guy and a talented writer, and I’ll be around.

So a pretty funny hed and four graphs down to one line. And those four graphs were informative statements of fact, not sour grapes. If Olson was edited from on high, I don’t so much feel bad for him, but for UPoR readers. They deserve better. They deserve to be treated like adults, like paying customers you respect instead of little children. A couple commenters on the blog noticed the change immediately, but they evidently do not rate an explanation from the UPoR brass. Still, one of them posted the original at 9:30 am this morning.

Wonder how long it stays up.

At any rate, Olson was a decent reporter, if far too trusting of the spin coming out of our local sports powerbrokers. And he did have that one memorable brain-fart a year ago, forgetting that Antawn Jamison played at Providence High School. Still, he will be missed. Here’s hoping Olson winds up taking airtime away from some of the duds WFNZ has on the air.

Update: Sure enough, the 9:30am — 9:29 IIRC — post with Olson’s original has been sent down the memory hole. No sign that it was even there. Just zap. Gone. The idiocy and arrogance is really quite stunning.

Update II: Romenesko — Poynter Online — has picked up on the incident.

13 Responses to “Uptown Paper Edits Scribe’s Final Goodbye”

  • Jan
    30
    2010

    The Observer probably threatened his severance package if he didn’t take down the mean ole words that he wrote.

    I don’t work for McClatchy, so I’ll come right out and say it: McClatchy sucks. Just because their stock price has climbed back out of the basement after a completely undeserved reprieve from the NYSE doesn’t change the fact that those idiots are still a couple of BILLION dollars in the hole and they have NO plan to repay the debt beyond going to the government and asking for a bailout.

  • Jan
    30
    2010

    McClatchy is a corporation right? One that seeks a profit no less, right? Then do they not have the right to do whatever they want with the content and employees that are a part of their organization?

    Just because they publish a newspaper makes them different? Wasn’t that your argument in relation to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision? Media corporations should be treated like any other corporation (or the other way around I suppose)?

    Corporations have a right to police what it said and communicated by their employees, whether they make widgets or publish news.

  • Jan
    30
    2010

    You are completely correct, jw.

    MNI can do whatever it wants with its sites, blogs, papers, mags etc. I didn’t say it should be illegal for MNI to do stupid, boorish things that insult its paying customers.

    Bottomline, someone could not stand a little truth from a guy who put in almost 40 years for the company. What does that say about their appetite for constructive criticism — or even reality — in general?

  • Jan
    30
    2010

    Also, what does it say about their corporate IT security? Most companies I’ve worked for, when they decide to get rid of someone, they remove the person’s ability to do anything harmful BEFORE they tell the person they’re being shown the door. If anyone at the Observer had any brains, they would have changed the password(s) for anything Olson used before they gave him the cut.

    If I were Olson and were unceremoniously (and possibly unjustly) dumped after all that time, you bet your ass I’d vent publicly if given the chance. That MNI seems to think they are immune from criticism shows how out of touch they are with their employees.

  • Jan
    30
    2010

    You know what happens next, right? Some MNI lawyer in Sacro demands that we take this stuff down.

  • Jan
    30
    2010

    Thereby making the problem even worse… for them.

  • Jan
    31
    2010

    Ha ha yeah I posted the original. I brought it up on Ninernation.net where the original is also posted. I can’t believe they are censoring this! Im sure Stan would come out and admit if it was him who edited it, but surely it was not him.

  • Jan
    31
    2010

    If I had to guess, I’d say that one of the higher-ups told Tysiac to remove certain parts of the post, since now it’s HIS blog and he had ready access to it. You may have noticed that the URL of the blog entry still shows Olson’s original intent (“olson-ive-been-decommitted-by-big-o.html”).

  • Jan
    31
    2010

    You are correct, in almost all large corporations when people are let go their access is shut down first. McClatchy’s pattern appears that they let people know, give them a few days, weeks to close out their stories, reports and then out they go.

    I can attest that where I work is not quite like that. While we do ax access when informed, we are also pretty informal with that person in regards to them copying contacts, alerting friends, etc. It’s a nicer way to handle and I like to think it helps defuse potentially larger disputes. But being a relatively small firm, we can go case-by-case like that.

    Regarding changing Olson’s posts. I would agree that it’s somewhat of a boorish move by McClatchy, but their law dogs probably care more about protecting a rep via legal means than public perception. It takes guts to let (constructive?) criticsm stay in place over editing it out for the permanent record.

  • Feb
    01
    2010

    [...] goings-on at the Observer’s Web site over the weekend. As reported by the conservative website MeckDeck, veteran sports reporter Stan Olson — aka The Man Who Knows More About Baseball Than Anyone — [...]

  • Feb
    01
    2010

    Just thought I’d add my two cents. The latest round of cuts (this would be, what, the fourth in the last 18 months? I’ve lost count.) is indeed McClatchy-wide, as were all the others.

    That Stan’s post was excised to protect McClatchy’s good name (?) doesn’t surprise me in the least. But I’d guess it has less to do with McClatchy culture than with Observer culture. The Big O has always been more secretive about this sort of thing than some of its company brethren.

    It’s about leadership, really. Since all this started, Rick Thames, the editor, seems to have gone out of his way to avoid discussing the blood all over the walls at 600 North Tryon Street. When was the last time he addressed something on his blog at the paper’s Web site that wasn’t Big-O-Smile-Time? Has he ever?

    I don’t know whether it’s intentional, a function of his personality or whether he’s just publisher Ann Caulkins’s lap dog. I do know that, in contrast, N&O editor John Drescher has generally been more upfront about the layoffs’ impact than has his counterpart in Charlotte.

  • Feb
    02
    2010

    The problem with McClatchy is that it swallowed Knight Ridder, but KR was bigger than MN.
    And papers like the Observer get to keep doing the crap they did before, as a business, and that means the journalists have to go.

  • Feb
    02
    2010

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by McClatchyWatch: Jeez – Looks like the Charlotte Observer censored a laid-off reporter’s final blog post http://tinyurl.com/ycs3uzl

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