It’s been another stressful week at the Chicago Tribune Media Group as they do damage control after the story the NY Times ran on the sexist, demeaning behavior of some of their top staffers, all formerly from Clear Channel radio that Sam Zell brought in. It seems that this article did these guys in with former Innovations Office, Abrahams, and former CEO, Michaels, being forced to resign and now Kevin Metheny, Program Director, for WGN-radio.
Having worked in radio as my first job in college and after college, I know what a messy business media is. The staffs at these companies run in teams, like a bunch of wolves in a pack! So when one of them is fired, the others are causalities. This is not a new concept for the business, yet is the norm rather than the exception. With so many people losing their jobs these days why should we care?
Maybe you don’t care about the individuals involved and think they had it coming, yet these are people that perhaps were treated unfairly. The NY Times story whether it was based on fact or not, became the reality. It’s what news sometimes does; it convicts people before they have an opportunity to defend themselves, with public opinion so important to the success of a newspaper or radio station or TV station, once the “dirt” is spread, its time to clean up the staff.
I watched Walter Jacobson on channel 2 give his comments on WGN about a week after the NY Times story broke. He ranted about how evil and unethical and bad Kevin Metheny was for abusing staff by taking advantage of his position, gambling and acting like a bad fraternity boy. I know Kevin personally and though he is not perfect, I believe that he was depicted in a far worse light than who he really is. This is radio folks and it’s a tough business to survive in.
I asked Kevin if the NY Times or Walter Jacobson had ever contacted him to get his side of the story and he said they did not. This is not good journalism. It’s not what I learned in college in my journalism classes. Yet, in the end it doesn’t matter for the public decided the former Tribune’s employee’s fate. Tribune management acted on it to protect their brand.
I understand that companies need to protect their image, but these people have children that they have to explain to as to why they were let go. Were there really people having sex on the balcony in the Tribune under Michaels watch? Did they really discriminate against women and was gambling and drinking scotch something they did on the premises one too many times?
We may never know the truth, but I do wish Kevin Metheny well in whatever he does. Lay-offs, firing or whatever you call it, are devastating for anyone that has gone through one which is a lot of people these days. So, a little compassion for the former Tribune employees is warranted.