Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bad Day In San Jose: Naming Carole Leigh Hutton Editor at Mercury-News Heralds Further Slide to Mediocrity

Mitch Albom Apologist Raises Profile After Merc Editor Packs Up For Plain-Dealer
When Carole Leigh Hutton's appointment as executive editor of the San Jose Mercury-News was announced yesterday, she told the staff she was "passionate about journalism" but "pragmatic about where we are."
That last phrase should give beleaguered Merc staffers pause.
When we last left them, Merc reporters were digesting the bitter reality of a lousy contract that was foisted on them in return for a pledge by new owner William "Lean Dean" Singleton to reduce the number of layoffs he'd contemplated.
Through it all, the much-diminished paper soldiered on, though executive editor Susan Goldberg apparently got tired of fighting the good fight and has decamped for The Plain-Dealer in Cleveland, where she'll succeed retiring Doug Clifton.
So that leaves Hutton, who this space last spotted as she was doing her "Animal Farm" routine when she led the Detroit Free-Press, after columnist Mitch Albom got caught writing fiction where a column should have been.
Albom told his loyal minions in an April 3, 2005, column about two former Michigan State players rooting on their team at the NCAA Final Four. Only problem: they never made it to the game. Albom's column was a work of fiction.
So, while mere mortals who toil in journalism would've been fired at warp speed and branded with a scarlet A, Hutton -- who also served as Free Press publisher -- merely placed Albom on paid leave and imposed some "discipline" that she never disclosed.
Because it was Albom, star columnist, best-selling author and media behemoth, Hutton decided to forgive his trespasses. The man sold papers, after all. Who cares if he sacrifices the paper's credibility in the process?
It is such a dubious legacy that Hutton now brings to the Merc. Everyone will be held to account. Except some will be held less accountable than others.
If Merc staffers find themselves questioning Hutton's judgment sooner than later, they'll have ample reason. The truth is out there. Too bad Hutton may not always see fit to publish it.

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