My last two stories for Poynter Online have been about two columnists who made headlines after making decisions that readers and journalists found fault with.
The most recent story, published Thursday on Poynter Online, talks about the backstory behind a sports column that the Orange County Register‘s Mark Whicker wrote earlier this week. In the column, Whicker uses sporting events to measure what Jaycee Dugard missed out on during her 18-year-long kidnapping.
After a friend (thanks @andymboyle) sent me a link to the column Wednesday afternoon, I wanted to find out more about Whicker’s intent in writing the story and what the editing process was like. When I interviewed Whicker later that night, he told me he wrote a similar piece about journalist Terry Anderson back in 1991. Deadspin picked up on that aspect of the story Thursday afternoon. Romenesko also linked to the story, which you can read here in its entirety:
“Orange Country Register columnist Mark Whicker asked readers Wednesday to forgive his ‘lapse of professionalism’ in writing a column that noted all the sports milestones that Jaycee Dugard missed after being kidnapped and held in captivity for 18 years.
“But in a phone interview, he defended the premise of his column and suggested that the fast-moving, quick-to-judge culture of the Web was behind the wave of criticism.
” ‘I vehemently believe I wasn’t insensitive about the fact that she was kidnapped,” he said Wednesday evening while at his son’s soccer practice. “I never made light about the fact that this woman was abducted. I don’t think anyone can cite anything in the column that says I did.’ ”
The other story I wrote a few weeks ago centered on a job query that Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks sent to a public relations firm. Hendricks’ query, in which he suggested he was over-qualified for the PR position, backfired on him when it landed on the “Bad Pitch Blog.” The story I wrote generated some interesting discussion — on Romenesko and in the blogosphere.
Here’s the intro to the story, which you can read here in its entirety:
“Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks recently learned the hard way what not to do when looking for a job.
“Earlier this month, Hendricks wrote a job query to Topeka-based Ogden Publications, expressing his interest in a public relations opening and declaring that he was overqualified for the position.
“His approach backfired after his e-mail exchange with the company was made public last week on the Bad Pitch Blog.
“The chain of events no doubt serves as a cautionary tale for journalists who are searching for jobs outside the news business. It’s a reminder that not everything that’s intended to be confidential remains so.”
What’s your reaction to the news in these stories?