Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Second Boston Massacre?

The new year brings even more HX Media and IN Newsweekly related developments as CEO Matthew Bank, partner David Unger and former Washington Blade publisher Jake Spencer reportedly fired a long-time Boston staffer this morning after eight years with the newspaper.

This termination -- and expected resignations to follow -- comes on the heels of a press release former IN Newsweekly editor-in-large Fred Kuhr, former Rhode Island correspondent Joe Siegel and columnist Chuck Colbert distributed [see below]. Colbert maintains HX Media still owes him more than $2,300 after he received a long-awaited check late last month. It appears as though the pressure against Bank and company is mounting but their apparent silence remains telling of potentially deeper problems with their gay media empire. But the reality remains, however, that mistreating long-time contributors who helped to establish the reputation a given newspaper, in this case IN Newsweekly, is completely unacceptable if not absolutely appalling to anyone who values quality journalism with an ounce of integrity. Let's hope Bank and company begin to acquire some in their future dealings with their ever-shrinking pool of staffers and contributors.



WRITERS AT NEW ENGLAND'S PREMIER GAY NEWSPAPER STEP DOWN

Four longtime contributors to IN Newsweekly cite lack of payment and new editorial direction, style for walkout

BOSTON - Four longtime contributors to IN Newsweekly, including former editor Fred Kuhr, have either formally resigned or stopped contributing to the newspaper after the new publisher repeatedly failed to pay them in a timely manner and ignored concerns over its new editorial direction.

The group - which also includes Cambridge, Mass.-based columnist and reporter Chuck Colbert, Rhode Island correspondent Joe Siegel, and religion columnist Rev. Irene Monroe - contend that these issues began last year after New York-based HX Media purchased IN Newsweekly. Previously, the newspaper was owned by local publisher Chris Robinson.

Under HX, the writers' paychecks were delayed for months after their work appeared in the newspaper. They were also troubled by the apparent new direction of the newspaper, which sacrificed hard news coverage in favor of more focus on local clubs and nightlife. Additionally, the new owner and editor repeatedly ignored the writers' concerns over this new editorial focus.

Kuhr, who was hired as IN Newsweekly's news editor in 1998 and was promoted to editor-in-chief in 2002, resigned late last month. “Under new ownership and a new editor, the newspaper has taken a new direction, and it is one in which I see less of a role for myself to play,” Kuhr said.

The group also wrote a joint letter to HX Media CEO Matthew Bank last month seeking a face-to-face meeting to discuss their various concerns. He failed to respond to the request.

"The letter sent to IN Newsweekly management was strongly worded, but left open wide a door for communication and resolution. Communication and resolution is what we ultimately sought, but management's silence left us no other choice,” says Colbert, who has written for IN Newsweekly for over a decade and maintains that HX Media still owes him more than $2,300. “The lack of response to our collective letter as well as my own letter to Editor William Henderson and HX Media CEO Matthew Bank points, once again, to the nature of the problems - heavy-handed and top down management, along with strong-armed editor/writer relationships, all of which is counterproductive to morale, especially in our industry and craft. Never in my 15-plus years as a freelance journalist have I ever been treated with such disrespect and lack of basic courtesy."

Siegel, who covered Rhode Island for five years, adds, “An attempt was made to address the paper's ongoing problems and to work together with HX management to make IN Newsweekly a higher quality publication. We were asking for some explanations as to why there was suddenly less money available for writers while at the same time advertisements were being placed for new positions. The lack of response was dismaying and emblematic of a lack of vision for the newspaper.”

2 comments:

JOhnnyRockets said...

Wasn't BIll fired because he was working on setting up another magazine on the side and was pretty much neglecting his true work for the paper? That's what I heard from my buds in Boston. I mean it's long rumored that HX is bad on paying people on time but this sure isn't due to that.

tiger said...
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