Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Toss out Suits from Fired Phoenix Staffers

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Toss out Suits from Fired Phoenix Staffers

Article excerpt

JOURNALISTS WHO LIVE and die by the First Amendment should be the last people rushing to court to punish someone for exercising his free speech rights.

But that doesn't seem to be the case in two libel suits filed by three dozen reporters who lost their jobs when the Phoenix Gazette folded (news story, p. 18). They are suing Phoenix Newspapers Inc. and former Arizona Republic managing editor Steve Knickmeyer over some cracks he made about them in the Columbia Journalism Review. Knickmeyer was quoted as saying "most" of the 60 editorial staffers who were laid off after the January 1997 closing of the Gazette were "fat, lazy, incompetent and slow."

The two groups of reporters claim they "sustained damages by way of mental anguish and emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment and damage to their professional reputations."

Well, we don't know about all that -- but these reporters surely should feel embarrassed. …

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