Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Letters to the Editor

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Letters to the Editor

Article excerpt

Arizona lawsuit editorial rebutted

IT WAS MOST discouraging to read E&P's July 25 editorial defending former Arizona Republic managing editor Steve Knickmeyer, who is being sued for libel by 18 reporters.

Knickmeyer resigned from the Republic in January days after publication of disparaging and irresponsible remarks he made about the former staffers to the Columbia Journalism Review.

In a CJR story about newspapers nationwide melding newsrooms and marketing, he denied that firing the reporters a year earlier was because they had stepped on advertisers' toes.

Knickmeyer said "most" of those fired were "fat, lazy, incompetent and slow."

The truth is that 75% of those dismissed were over age 40 and earned higher-than-average salaries. Many were later replaced with younger, lesser-paid talent.

Your editorial in support of Knickmeyer's right to make such a statement showed that you fell for Republic lawyer David Bodney's obfuscating portrayal of the lawsuit as a First Amendment issue.

In fact, the libel lawsuit has nothing to do with the First Amendment. Professional journalists, more than anyone, support a person's right to opine that most of the staff of this magazine are child molesters, drug users and killers of AWOL soldiers by use of poison gas - as long as it's true. But they also know they damn well better be right when they do or face the consequences.

Knickmeyer's statement was tamer than those cited above, but it was a lie nonetheless and unfairly damaged reputations of some fine reporters.

I also take exception to your assertion that the lawsuit is bad in principle and should be an embarrassment to the plaintiff-reporters. I beg to differ. What higher principle is there for a reporter than the truth?

Further, your suggestion that a Letter To The Editor rebuttal of Knickmeyer's statement would be sufficient is laughable. …

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