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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas McDevitt’

Incest Desk: TWT’s Wes Pruden Slaps ‘Special Friend’s’ Column on Cover of Op-ed Section

Something new to whisper about in the TWT newsroom.

In his first week back on the job, Wes Pruden has put his longtime “special friend” Suzanne Fields‘ column on the cover of the opinion section. This is an unusual move and another example of, ahem, raising the quality of journalism on the op-ed pages he’s now overseeing, as was stated in a recent press release. “I wouldn’t say the Suzanne Fields column is any worse than the other stuff they have put out,” said a former TWT staffer. “But this is Wes’s prerogative. If it’s mediocre, then it’s the mediocre replacing the mediocre.”

Fields’ column never gets much traffic, but her continued publication was always guaranteed because of her relationship with Pruden. In recent years, her column never went away, but it was always buried inside the section on page 4. The cover is reserved for big names and big stories by the important people involved in the stories of the day — the Speaker of the House, presidential candidates, former Secretaries of State. But perhaps more importantly, TWT‘s opinion front page is a space generally reserved for original content exclusive to the publication, not syndicated columns available in other publications like Fields’ column.

Staff has often referred to Fields’ column as “filler.” Four opinion editors, including the late Tony Blankley, have been restrained by the “Pruden-Fields Rule”, in which then-TWT President Thomas McDevitt insisted that no one can cut Fields’ column because of her “special relationship” with Pruden. McDevitt is now TWT Chairman.

We reached out to McDevitt for comment… Read more

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Wild Times: TWT, NPR, PBS to Co-Host Debate

What do you get when you cross the conservative TWT with the progressive NPR and the objective PBS?

No doubt, strange bedfellows.

The trio will host a nationally televised GOP presidential debate on March 19. The hosts also include Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon Republican Party. Perhaps in the future a publication writing a story about itself should be called a press release. For now, we’ll explain it like this: TWT President Thomas McDevitt told TWT, “Our partnership with PBS, NPR, Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon GOP to sponsor an RNC-sanctioned presidential debate is an ideal way to exercise such muscular journalism.”

Moderators will be a three-person panel that represents print, radio and TV.

 

Inside TWT’s Afternoon Ballroom Meeting

TWT journalists and staffers retreated to the TWT ballroom today for an afternoon meeting with President Thomas McDevitt and their new editor, Ed Kelley.

Reaction to Kelley was a mixed bag. There’s concern he has no Washington experience. He spoke of his family in glowing terms — but this is Washington, and no one was wowed by it. One of our spies noted that there is concern of putting someone in charge of news and editorial breaks down the wall. In the meeting, Kelley was careful to always speak of the long-time, valued conservative opinion page and the difference with the news side which he insisted does stories that readers don’t get anywhere else. Those who listened gathered that the newcomer wouldn’t be intruding either a conservative imprint on news nor thrusting a liberal viewpoint into editorial.

Kelley’s physical description: He’s tall, with a half smile, glasses and Newt Gingrich-level big gray hair. His accent was stronger when he spoke to the group then when he spoke individually to people after.

Another spy got good vibes from Kelley and seemed to take to his family spiel: “Seems like he’s going to bring leadership to the paper, just comes from a pretty impressive newspaper background. Seemed like a nice guy, a good family guy. He came to the morning editorial meeting today. He seems to share the paper’s values. He’s like a serious news person. It all looks good.”

McDevitt spoke with the giant white TWT seal made of molding behind him. He began by asking who had been newly hired since January 1. About a third of the people raised their hands. He discussed new multimedia changes on the horizon as well as remodeling the building.

A finance officer brought up TWT rival WaPo, saying that “only 14 percent of WaPo revenue comes from the newspaper, 60 percent from education programs such as Kaplan and now Kaplan has problems. Would expect to see their belt tightening — we only compete with them in local print, they don’t do national multimedia like we do.”

Many noticed Kelley’s strong Oklahoma twang. He remarked that TWT is like a family and expressed gratitude for the employees who did the jobs of 10 people to keep the place afloat. He spoke of the brutal cuts that happened at TWT before it was revamped and said he’s impressed with the commitment from those who stuck it out for the mission of the organization.

Kelley ended his first meeting, saying, “I want all of you to look at me as an ally and trusted colleague.” The response was polite applause.

TWT Newsroom to Get First Impression of New Editor

This afternoon at 2:30 p.m. TWT‘s brand spanking new Editor Ed Kelley will meet with the journalists of his new newsroom. All TWT staff have been invited by President Thomas McDevitt. Kelley comes to the publication from The Oklahoman. The position has been waiting to be filled since Sam Dealey departed in November.

On Friday WaPo‘s Paul Farhi wrote that Kelley’s return may mean a “return to stability” for TWT. He explained:

Kelley will take over a newspaper badly in need of a pick-me-up. Over a four-year period, the Times’ circulation has plunged by about half, from 100,257 in 2007 to around 50,000. (The Washington Post had daily circulation of 550,821 and 852,861 on Sunday as of March 31.)

There was good reason why Farhi made sure to include those numbers. Kelley told Farhi in an interview Friday of the hardships that he, the industry and even WaPo have faced: “Obviously, this is a paper that has had some ups and downs, and that’s characterizing it lightly. All news organizations, including my own and [The Post], have had our ups and downs. Unfortunately, none of us who work for daily news organizations are strangers to this kind of thing.”

Read the full story here. Stay tuned for details about this afternoon’s office meeting.

 

Rumors Swirl of Solomon Return to TWT

John Solomon, executive editor of Center for Public Integrity that includes the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, isn’t formally working for TWT anymore, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t involved in some back channel behind the scenes. There is heavy talk of an effort underway for him to return to the paper from which he resigned as executive editor in November 2009.

On Wednesday on the floor of the TWT newsroom, editorial staff were heard voluminously discussing a rumor that Solomon was returning to the newspaper. One school of thought by a TWT insider with a ringside view is that staff were discussing the situation loudly enough for TWT acting Editor Chris Dolan to overhear and react. The insider said Dolan had to have heard the conversation, but was not observed reacting to it in any way.

But talk is all Solomon says it is.

“That would be news to me,” he told FishbowlDC this afternoon in  a phone interview. “I am happy with my job for the Center For Public Integrity and deeply involved in developing the center’s new media and business strategies and any rumors to the contrary and any rumors suggesting anything else are patently false. I have heard this [rumor] from the day after I resigned. Washington Post reported that I asked for my old job back. I don’t know if I should be flattered or what.”

But even Solomon agrees that the rumor is not so outlandish. Packard Media Group, a media management company part-owned by Solomon, visited TWT late last year to give a presentation to a small group of top staff. The proposal was to take over TWT advertising. Solomon was not present for the meeting. The proposal is said to still be alive. But there are many proposals on the table hoping to be accepted by TWT as the publication moves forward under its new ownership.

Another detail involves TWT President Thomas McDevitt. Sources told FishbowlDC that McDevitt said he speaks to Solomon daily and that he “doesn’t make a decision without talking to Solomon.”

Reaction to a potential Solomon return is mixed. “There’s people who got along with him really well,” the source, who wished to speak anonymously, said.  “There were people he was nasty to and people new in the building who don’t know what to think. I don’t think there’s universal enthusiasm.”

We requested comment from Dolan. We’ll bring it to you should he reply.

> Update: The reporters discussing Solomon’s potential return were said to be horsing around. Dolan called FishbowlDC and remarked, “What the Washington Times insider apparently didn’t hear was the beginning of the statement that started with, ‘Let’s start a rumor.’ One of the reporters was fooling around in the newsroom. They were being boisterous and maybe they need more work to do.”

The Next WT Editor-in-Chief

Lots of talk about who is going to replace Wes Pruden as editor-in-chief of the Washington Times. The Don Mattingly candidate (i.e. the favorite for the position) remains Fran Coombs, but remember: Mattingly didn’t get the job.

Harry Jaffe looks at the job description, as does Howard Kurtz.

One of the more interesting parts of the job description?

    The new editor must have “respect for the vision of the founder of News World Communications and The Washington Times, which aims to further the values of faith, family and freedom, while conveying a global awareness, urbanity and sensitivity.”

On a related note, we hear that lots of Times employees — especially Metro reporters — are wondering what the heck ever happened to that big strategic plan promised by Washington Times President Thomas McDevitt.

Update: The Washington Times 25th Bash For Less Important People

Earlier, we asked you to propose song ideas for the “Washington Times 25th Bash For Less Important People” (you’ll recall that the Times put a music survey online and the top 20 most suggested songs would be played throughout the evening).

Although we thought their online music survey was down, it was simply not accessible outside of their system.

Still you sent in plenty of song recommendations, which we reprint below (we left the really mean ones out):

“Moon River”

“Moondance”

“Dancing in the Moonlight”

“Man in the Moon”

“Fly Me to the Moon”

“Moondust”

“Bad Moon Rising”

“Dirty Laundry”

“Shine On Harvest Moon”

“Blue Moon”

“Moon Shadow”

“Harvest Moon”

“New Moon on Monday”

“Walking on the Moon”

“Bark at the Moon”

“Drunk on the Moon”

“Moon Song”

“Moonflower”

“Mississippi Moon”

“It’s Hip to Be Square”

Neil Young “Southern Man”

We also hear that, at the party, all of the Times’ cafeteria staff wore matching orange outfits to go along with paper’s “brighter, bolder” theme. Also, Times President Thomas McDevitt unveiled a “brighter, bolder” barbecue sauce and joked that the Times’ newest endeavour would be a restaurant.

McDevitt Updates Times Employees On Paper’s Future

FishbowlDC has obtained a letter sent from Washington Times President Thomas McDevitt to employees:

    Dear Washington Times Colleagues,

    Together we recently celebrated a quarter century of publication and looked back with pride on our accomplishments as a news organization. Our achievements over the past 25 years were the fruits of the hard work and dedication of the entire Times staff. Please know that your contributions have helped establish The Washington Times as a distinctive and reliable media destination – and your efforts are deeply appreciated.

    We have also been looking to the future. Many people see a newspaper industry faced with unprecedented challenges — fewer readers; an aging readership; competition from other newspapers, cable TV, radio, and the Internet; and defining the role of print media in the Digital Age. Some newspaper companies don’t know what to do.

    Not so with The Washington Times. We are now embarking on our next quarter century of service with a vibrant, carefully thought-out plan for our print and digital publications. This roadmap builds on the market-based proof that The Washington Times is a necessary, clear and alternative voice to mainstream media sources that are often out-of-touch with tens of millions of our fellow citizens. In the face of industry squeamishness, we plan actually to expand our reach locally, nationally and internationally, and based on an intensive company-wide effort, we expect to succeed.

Read the rest after the jump…

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