Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Off Center

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Off Center

Article excerpt

Dust up at 'USA Today'

The holiday mood at Gannett Co. Inc.'s new headquarters in McLean, Va., remains anything but festive two weeks after the firing of three journalists for toying with what they thought was dust on a prized sculpture. "Everyone's very shaken and scared," one Gannett worker told E&P.

Several dozen workers at Gannett flagship USA Today are wearing lapel ribbons in sympathy with Denise Tom, 49, Karen Allen, 48, and Cheryl Phillips, 39 -- all late of the newspaper's sports department. A relief fund for the three has been established, and they have hired Washington attorney Steven Hoffman. According to Hoffman, his e-mail box these days is filled not with holiday cheer but with charges about disciplinary practices at USA Today.

"I've never done [a case] where, just sitting in my chair, so many people turn up wanting to say something," Hoffman told E&P. He said the messages he had received suggested to him that USA Today might be "trying to clear out older people" or favoring males in its disciplinary practices. …

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