This post was written by MJ on 25th Mar, 2003
Montreal Gazette columnist Sue Montgomery has been suspended for two weeks without pay.
Ms Montgomery, often the only news columnist in the Gaz newsroom to come at things from something resembling a liberal perspective, was put in the penalty box over this recent piece.
In an email invitation to a benefit for her this weekend, the “Friends of Sue” say the suspension is meant “to shut down dissenting voices in their newsroom and deprive Montrealers of hardhitting viewpoints like Sue’s.” They call the suspension “unjustified and abusive.”
Update: Not so, according to Jack Romanelli, managing editor of the Gaz. He says the piece in question was not a column but an article. “The situation is not that she made a factual error,” he said over the phone from the newsroom. “She violated a cardinal tenet of journalism. She did a one-sided story without bothering to call the other side.”
Mr Romanelli said the offended party threatened to sue; the Gaz ran a correction.
He said the decision to suspend her was a decision taken by the management and that he could not remember the last time a journalist was suspended.
On the second point, he said the suspension has nothing to do with shutting down her viewpoint. He pointed out if he wanted to do that he could just yank the column and avoid the “rigamarole.”
The move by the “Friends of Sue” to support their colleague is “honourable,” he said, but he slammed their statements: “I do have a problem with allegations that are unfounded. They are supposed to be journalists and editors.”
In closing, “I just want to make the point here that what she did would not be acceptable in a beginners journalism class. It was a one-sided story. She was reprimanded for that. It has absolutely nothing to do with shutting down a dissenting viewpoint.”
Ah, The Gazette: The managing editor says one of their brand-name columnists made a beginner’s mistake; an anonymous group of employees calls their boss’ decision “abusive and unjustified.”
Sounds like a great place to work.