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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kirk Kicks the Can

Jim Kirk, the Chicago Tribune's associate managing editor for business and former marketing columnist, has written a response to Geoff Dougherty's charge that the Trib spiked a story that would have named Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons as one of the worst CEOs in Chicago when you compare excutive pay to performance. Here it is, in its entirety:
Geoff Dougherty's characterization of the executive pay story as well as the circumstances surrounding his resignation are completely false. The Chicago Tribune has never shied away from covering news about the paper, its sister companies, its corporate parent, or its executives. But the article Mr. Dougherty published Tuesday on his website is not the one he wrote for the Tribune. As he himself admits in a postscript, the story he posted Tuesday is a revised version of his original reporting, because, as he put it, the story needed "editing, updating and factchecking."

As for his resignation, we do not discuss personnel matters, and we won't address that here. But I will note that Mr. Dougherty offered his resignation before meeting with editors here to discuss his complaint. After looking into his complaint, and finding it lacked merit, editors decided to accept his resignation.
Kirk was a fantastic reporter and a muscular writer, which makes this less-than-crystaline managerial memo that carries his name a puzzlement to me. Fine, you can't comment on employment matters. But the fact that the version of Dougherty's story that was posted on his web site is not the same version that he filed is immaterial to his charge: That Tribune editors killed a story that would have been critical of FitzSimons without explanation.

The question the Tribune needs to answer is this: Why didn't the executive compensation piece run? As I noted before, the Tribune has dinged former Tribune Co. CEOs using the same formula. So how come this piece didn't see the light of day? If there were a good reason, I suspect Kirk would have cited it in his response.

[Via Romenesko]