Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Not Again!

Just when you thought I was finished talking about Kelly Gabriel, her husband, Paul Heidbreder, starts making news. Heidbreder, who recently took a job as the publisher of The Daily Telegram of Adrian, Michigan, fired one of his columnists (who was also the paper's news editor), allegedly for writing something negative about the American auto industry.
"I was in a meeting with my boss [editor Mark Lenz] and the publisher came in and berated me for half an hour," [James] Briggs said, describing the Tuesday morning meeting at the afternoon paper. "He said I needed to understand the consequences of what I wrote."

What he wrote was a column in Saturday's paper that described his decision to switch from driving an American car to a foreign model. "Maybe I'm hitting a late rebellious streak. Maybe I'm simply unpatriotic, ungrateful or un-American," the column said, in part. "Or maybe the domestic automakers have slipped so far down that purchasing an American vehicle has become moronic. I'll go with that answer."

Briggs, 24, said he received no feedback from the newspaper until Tuesday morning when Publisher Paul Heidbreder approached him during his meeting with Lenz. "He said it was insensitive for me to write such a column given our proximity to the Big Three [automakers]," Briggs said. "He tried to get me to at least apologize and I was not going to apologize because I believe what I wrote."

The publisher told [Editor & Publisher] today the termination was not based solely on the column. He also said no advertising had been lost so far, although some auto dealers had threatened to pull ads.

"The auto dealers threat was not what led to his termination," said Heidbreder, who has been publisher since early June. "His account of the events is inaccurate. But I am not going to comment further on personnel matters." The publisher also contends that when he fired Briggs, he offered to give him an explanation, but the columnist said he did not need one.
UPDATE: Read the column

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