The Washington Post today demonstrates how not to deal with media…like the Washington Post.
Mike Wise, a sports columnist for the Post, recently put some bogus information on his Twitter account. Why he did so is a little unclear — a joke, a test, whatever. Wise unwisely wrote that Pittsburgh Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger would be suspended five weeks instead of the anticipated six.
Wise, who also has a radio program on WJFK 106.7FM, a local sports talk station, quickly admitted inventing the non-fact.
The Post, understandably doesn’t like it when their reporters get caught fabricating news. They suspended Wise for a month. (Meaning that Wise may miss slightly fewer paychecks than Roethlisberger.)
We know he was suspended because Wise announced it on his radio program today.
The Post Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, then wrote a blog item about it saying that Wise had committed the “greatest sin” of journalism. Alexander quotes Wise at length whipping himself for his sins — on the radio.
But then here is the interesting part. Alexander quotes the Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli as declining to comment.
“I’m not going to discuss anything personnel related,” Brauchli said.
In the very next sentence the Post’s sports editor, Matthew Vita — a Brauchli subordinate comments: “Clearly, we consider what Mike did was poor judgment on his part.” Vita added: “He knows that what he did violates our core principles.”
Now wait a damn minute. We understand why some personnel actions are not appropriate for bosses to talk about. But when the person who was sanctioned talked about it at length on the radio…and when the Washington Post Ombudsman writes about it…and the Post media guru Howard Kurtz Tweets and blogs about it…shouldn’t someone tell Brauchli that he is just looking silly by refusing to talk to his own Ombudsman about stuff that everyone else as his paper is talking about?
Wouldn’t it have made sense for Brauchli to say something about the “high standards” he expects all his charges to maintain?
Declining to talk in a situation like this — is a knee jerk reaction which only serves to make the boss look like a jerk.