From: Hazell, Naedine
Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 12:37
To: Courant News Staff
Subject: Staff update
Since the elimination of George Gombossy’s position at the Courant, there’s been a great deal of conjecture and misinformation floated in the blogosphere. First of all, there is no relationship between the change in that job and any story George was working on.
One of those stories, a version of which he posted on his personal blog is being held by the newspaper to get answers to certain questions. We are all familiar with the practice of stories being held for more reporting or comment.
Our readers and advertisers do and should expect us to report stories we know are accurate and fully reported. Our advertisers have no influence on what we report, including stories that may include them. In fact, George’s farewell column, which appeared yesterday, was critical of CL&P, an advertiser.
And finally, George knew his job was being eliminated while we moved to a Courant-Fox 61 newly-defined consumer reporter position. He did not express interest in the position.
Bloggers may be questioning the Courant and its standards for however long this story lingers but it’s important that we all know that our own journalistic and ethical standards have not, and will not, be compromised or altered by our relationship with the subject, whether it’s an advertiser, a powerful politician or even a former colleague.
Anyone who would like to discuss this sensitive subject further, should contact Jeff, Naedine or Lynne.
GEORGE GOMBOSSY’s RESPONSE
I have been waiting for Courant management to get around to explaining to its staff why I was no longer there after 40 years – especially since management told everyone how they loved my column and blog until the first advertiser complaint came in Â May.
So let’s look at Naedine’s (Editor of the print Courant) statement and see where she has some issues of credibility in her message to the staff. You think some people on Broad Street might resent being spinned?
I wasn’t asked to apply for the job, nor was it offered to me, and it was set at a significant amount less than my salary.
After being told Aug. 3 that my positition was being eliminated and a new position was being created, I was directed to immediately go to the Human Resource Director who would decide whether he would immediately take my badge and have me escorted out of the building.
Gene Mazur, the hr director, is a decent man, and my former direct boss, Lynne Delucia, is a great editor, and a wonderful human being. They gave me two weeks to wrap up my affairs before having to leave.
CL&P was not and is not a prime advertiser. The new Courant policy which was instituted in May as the result of a complaint against me by Aiello, required me and all reporters and columnists to notify Jeff Levine or Naedine Hazell of any stories or columns that even had a negative tinge about a KEY advertiser. Naedine knows that, she must think she can just gloss over that little fact.
Those stories and columns would get special attention – Just like the Sleepy’s column did.
Maybe someone wants to ask her to show them where CL&P is listed as a prime advertiser.
Maybe someone also wants to ask her for the email that informed me of why my column was not running and what question did I fail to answer. Her problem is going to be that no such an email exists and no such conversation took place between me and any of my editors.
The conversations took place at a MUCH HIGHER level, including Tribune lawyers, when a decision was made that the Watchdog had to go.
I will be on two radio programs this week, I have asked that Courant representatives be invited. Let’s see if Naedine or Jeff or Rich show up. It would be a lot more exciting.
AND THIS I THE LATEST STATEMENT FROM COURANT MANAGEMENT FROM THIS AFTERNOON
The overriding consideration on stories reported by the Hartford Courant is making sure the facts are thoroughly checked out and correct.Â Our advertisers have no influence on what we report, including stories that may include them. This is a long time Courant policy.
Our readers and advertisers do and should expect us to report stories we know are accurate and fully reported.Â George Gombossyâ€™s story needs and is receiving additional checking and verification. This is a common practice required by our editors with all Courant news stories, including columns by Mr. Gombossy, and while employed with the Courant, he was well aware of this and accepted and followed this policy over the years.Â Â
While Mr. Gombossy’s position was eliminated, he was made aware of the newly-defined consumer reporter position that will be combined with our newspaper, television station and Web site.Â He did not express interest.
Corporate Affairs & Communications Consultant
HartfordÂ Courant/WTIC/WTXX – TV
Â Â 860-241-3934Â Â 860-241-3934
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