Biddle "failed to follow a directive"

Dateline: Thu 08 Nov 2007

Was RiShawn Biddle's firing by the Star handled fair and square? The newspaper Guild at the paper is looking into it. One thing we know; the Guild was not notified immediately that Biddle was terminated, which happened Wednesday, Oct. 31, the same day he posted his Expresso blog on the minstrel show that was the City-County Council.

Here is a clarification from Guild president Abe Aamidor, sent yesterday in response to a recent post about Biddle. Note the evil HR also speaks out:

"Ruth - one of your sources is not quite correct about company policy not being followed in re RiShawn's termination notice:

"The announcement was indeed made to the newsroom, and to the public, before The Guild was notified; The Guild in fact had to request the notification according to the terms of the Contract. This the company did at 9:28 am Friday, Nov. 2. Was this an undue delay? I don't know."

The company obviously had to be prodded to send its notice. According to other sources, Biddle was fired because he "failed to follow a directive" and used poor judgment.

It seems to me that his firing was zealous; years ago, before Gannett came in, a features reporter (who had never worked for a newspaper before) was found to be fabricating a story and submitting it for publication -- names, quotes, places, etc., were entirely made up. Still, feature editor Dennis Royalty and AME for features Ted Daniels took days to look at the facts, along with exec editor Frank Caperton. When they finally had concluded their reviews, Caperton -- using the standard set by publisher Gene Pulliam -- refused to act on the spot. Caperton said he wanted to sleep on it. The next day, the reporter was terminated.

FYI, sources inside the newsroom speculate that Dennis Ryerson and Barbara Henry are untouchable in this matter, and Tim Swarens will also survive. Apparently, this is not the only blog-related fiasco to occur at 307 N. Penn, but in other cases, the "mistakes" were made by non-employees -- you know, those freelancers -- and caught before they went online.

'Tis a tricky balancing act. But Gannett DOES love to fire people...that much you can count on.


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