Saturday, May 22, 2010

Newspaper reporter fired for co-authoring magazine story

The Inside Out blog has a story on a newspaper reporter for the Oregonian being fired for writing a magazine piece without permission from the newspaper.

Most newspaper reporters know they need to clear any outside journalism efforts with their editors before working for another publication.

In the days after Jack Kevorkian assisted with his first suicide, I was contacted by the editor of Newsday and with permission from my editor submitted three or four stories, including one that ran on the front page of Newsday, about my interviews with Jack Kevorkian.

All the stories were merely rewrites of what I had already done for the Journal. It was pretty easy money. About three days in Newsday sent their own reporter to the area and my little gig was up.

I ended up making about $3,500 from the work, which helped by my first real home computer - an Acer, I believe, which in those days had about 1 gig of memory and cost more than $3,000.


Anonymous said...

uh huh. booth/newhouse doesn't have any written rules on freelancing or outside work. editors and writers throughout the organization have been doing it for years. they chose this one person to make an example of? i hope he has a lawyer who knows how to use google. all you have to do is search by author name to find numerous examples of freelancing writers and people doing outside work. and why shouldn't they, as long as it's not a competing publication. i mean, no one i know of in the chain/organization ever signed such a 'you can't write for anyone else' clause.

former newsie said...

I don't remember if the rules were written, but Booth made it pretty clear that you couldn't freelance without first clearing it with your supervisor.

It was almost impossible to freelance because the papers demanded the right of first refusal for anything you wrote, even on your own time.

And in the age of the Internet, almost every publication became a competitng publication in the eyes of Booth.

Anonymous said...

I believe it was written in the handbook I got nearly 10 years ago, Newsie. I probably chucked it when they laid us all off, though. Either way, it was common knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Uh, ya, let's all stop freelancing (using present tense for effect) when the Flint Journal enforces its life-long jobs pledge. Riiiight. Cuts both ways. In the days of yore, it was more of a don't ask, don't tell situation: freelance but don't crow about it; keep your mouth shut and collect your check -- or better, save that check for when the FJ deep-sixes your job. Besides, there were other newsroom issues to deal with, like the reporter who needed three -- count 'em, three -- sources to write a correction. And the beat goes on.