Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hatin' on E.J: Is there another reason for all the negativity aimed at former Tennessean editor?

The first part of my series on The Tennessean's fall as an institution of credibility and community leadership has elicited some heat against E.J. Mitchell, who led the newsroom before the current officeholder.

As I answered in the comment section, Mitchell never treated me ill, nor did any of his decisions affect me negatively. It was to the contrary. After I contracted leukemia, Mitchell was most supportive, and even read the riot act to the human resources department for me. I'll take that kind of leader any day. And it gives him distinction in my career experiences of three decades at six different newspapers.

So I've got to wonder if all these long-time Gannett employees who are responding have something else against Mitchell than beyond his leadership skills. I can take any leader as long as they produce a better product, which Mitchell did on the front page. And then he was going to let Brad Schmitt go. Gee, two out of two ain't bad.

So what did this African-American editor do that was so wrong?

Can you think of anything that a strong-willed, very vocal, non-Obama like editor who has dark black skin might do to piss off members of newsrooms that are mostly white with long-term employees who are part of the entrenchment that plagues modern-day newspaper journalism?

Can you think of why the same journalists would not complain about the lack of a black journalism legacy at The Tennessean, despite Nashville having a 25% African-American population and two historic black universities?

Gee, I can't think of a thing.

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