By Tiffany Edwards Hunt
Skip over this if you don’t have any interest in newspapering and/or the state of Wyoming.
Regulars here know that my late father hails from Wyoming, and I graduated from the University of Wyoming. I also started my newspaper career there, and remain connected to many former colleagues in Wyoming.
Before I relocated to Hawaii, I worked for the Casper Star-Tribune, which is the equivalent to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, being distributed statewide.
Not long after I left the state and the CST, Lee Enterprises bought the newspaper from Howard Publications.
Lee Enterprises, owning over 50 dailies and 300 weeklies around the country, doesn’t seem to be doing too well these days.
Lee Enterprises owned the Kauai newspaper until recently selling it to Honolulu Star Advertiser.
The management of Casper Star Tribune apparently fret so much over numbers they have put all their senior staffers on the chopping block and are letting them go one by one.
News is clearly the “news hole” to fill in beyond the advertisements ; Nevermind, quality news gatherers! It obviously doesn’t matter to CST management to have any insitutional knowledge on board. They have proved themselves to be saboteurs, last week dismissing Kerry Drake, one of the last editors remaining since the Lee Enterprises takeover. Kerry spent 19 years at the Trib, and his final days there were spent in fear that the head egomaniac company-man editor would can him. That editor subjected Drake to weekly reviews, and ultimately decided it wasn’t “working out.” His is the kind of management style reminscient of our very own Stephens Media. That style, in any profession, breeds mediocrity and status quo in newspapering.
If you have wondered why content is so lacking in newspapers here or any places where big businesses are governing newspapers, it’s that management seeks to “budget” by replacing tenured, high-paid staff with young people from out of state who don’t have the benefit of history, can be paid chump change, and can be treated poorly without question. The current Trib doesn’t even compare to the community-focused publication it was under Howard Publications’ leadership.
I am sure oldtimers can observe the decline in quality of both the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and West Hawaii Today, with out-of-state corporations providing the guiding light. The Big Island Weekly started out as a community-journalism-minded force to be reckoned with, back when Stephens Media set out to take down the late Hawaii Island Journal.
Now as an independent newspaper editor and publisher, I understand the need for management to number crunch and I recognize that advertising dollars are scarce.
But when you adopt a management style that hinges on fear and intimidation and you treat people poorly, you only make the product harder to sell.
News flash: people are less motivated to work harder and faster when they are governed by fear and intimidation!
I am so dismayed Drake’s dismissal from CST. That’s not too say I didn’t feel for other friends and colleagues who have endured harassment and abuse at the Trib in recent years But this the proverbial straw on the camel’s back. Drake was my mentor when I worked at CST. I actually credit him for swaying me in the direction of newspapering. I first met him when I worked for my college newspaper, covering a nudity ordinance that then City Council of Laramie, Wyoming was seeking to adopt. He was reporting for CST, and from that point on I looked to him for guidance on my career path. Kerry is one of the kindest, most compassionate people you could ever meet. He is one of those people who is soft spoken, but is astute and keen to nuances, making him a truly effective observer. That, coupled with his writing talent, makes him a great reporter. Being an editor having a reporter background is another invaluable characteristic in newspapering.
Drake’s workplace harassment and ultimate firing reminds me of the hell that Stephens Media staffers here have to endure. It seems to be both a symptom and cause that these newspaper corporations have such terrible management styles.
I guess, other than publicly lament, those of us who love newspapering and understand how the corporate mentality is ruining our profession can seek to do things differently.
Independent publishing on the Internet is the way of the future, and I feel proud to be paving the way out here.
I wholeheartedly wish my friend Drake the very best in this scary transition out of the confines of corporate journalism.
It truly is confinement, Drake. You’ll see. My advice to Drake, and anyone currently enduring a shitty boss with fear and intimidation as his or her management style: don’t let anyone steal your joy; life is too short for that kind of abuse.
Yes, we all need to make money to survive. But enduring harassment and abuse in the workplace will only prove more costly in the long run to your physical and mental health and well-being.
Jump off the proverbial cliff and know that you will land right where you need to be. If you aren’t well-versed on technology, invest in a community college course and learn exactly what you need to to stay relevant in this profession.
You will survive and, in no time, you will be back on track, contributing to your community in some way, shape or fashion. Take a bow for making it through that dark period of your life.