Joy in mudville...

Dateline: Sun 29 Jun 2008

The comments on this blog about Indianapolis Star publisher Barbara Henry's "retirement," announced Friday, have been thoughtful and analytical. Thanks to all.

However, over at the well-read gannettblog, many readers chose to let fly. Jim Hopkins, a former USA Today reporter and editor who took a buyout in January, runs gannettblog. Friday, he had to ask those commenting to please cool it on the "BH is a bitch" line of chat. (He was deleting those comments, but they were coming so fast and furious he was hard-pressed to keep pace). After his request, he posted this:

"Jim,

I do not understand this blog. Barbara Henry is and was a bitch. The bitch of all times. This is the most joyous occasion for all of us in Indianapolis. You of all people are going to censor this. What kind of blog is this. Freedom of speech, 1st amendment bullshit. Watch dog my ass.

You are accusing people of being incompetent and stealing and lying. You talk about how Gracia is ugly and Craig is a loser. How Wendel Van Lare is fat and bulbous.

Barb Henry is a bitch. A female dog. Nothing disparaging about that. The plain truth.

Why dont you take a poll of my collegues at Indy and you will see that we are all celebrating this news. Christmas came early.

6/27/2008 7:11 PM"

I must say, Henry would never win any "flavor of the week" contests with the newsroom or other departments at the Star. Although she started out as a publisher who regularly visited the newsroom, she became aloof, imperial and dogmatic. She caused some people to be fired, and some people to leave. She was known for throwing angry temper tantrums.

Former exec editor Terry Eberle left the Star, or was asked to leave, because he would not do Henry's bidding. That paved the way for her favorite son Dennis Ryerson to waltz in the door.

The word is that some reporters/news people don't respect Ryerson because he never said "no" to Henry. But he has assured staff members he is not going anywhere. I say it is only a matter of time.

Other fallout? Don't look for Myrta Pulliam to hang around, either. With Henry out, the daughter of the late Gene Pulliam who administers the Nina Pulliam Charitable Trust and has offices at 307 N. Penn, is looking for her own exit strategy. But then there is always travel -- if you got $28 million for selling out the family paper, you could afford $45,000 for a vacation, too.

As for Russ Pulliam, Myrta's brother and the other heir to the Pulliam publishing fortune, he probably won't go anywhere. We were always told he had a "job for life" with Gannett, so he'll continue to write editorial columns.

One other comment caught my eye on gannettblog: that was a reference to the fact that, at least, Henry worked well with the Guild in contract negotiations. One can only fear that her successor will not exhibit this small kindness.

But one can also hope, as well. Henry did the paper no favors; it's hard to see how things could get much worse.

Then, one simply has to look at the free-fall the Detroit Free-Press is in, and realize: yep, it can get worse.

And it probably will.

To read other comments about Henry et all, check out:

http://www.gannettblog.blogspot.com/

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