Anywhere Else, Mike McInally Would’ve Been Given a Raise
Lee Enterprises Models Corporate Stupidity
This weekend, we learned that Lee Enterprises would again cut budgets in all the wrong places at the Corvallis Gazette-Times — in this instance, laying off the heart of the daily paper, Mike McInally.
Serving as Editor-in-Chief at the GT since 2005, McInally is widely liked and respected in Corvallis. These last few years, he was essentially doing the jobs of at least four people: Editorships at both the Gazette-Times and Democrat-Herald, supervising weekly papers in Philomath and Lebanon, and acting as both editor and chief local contributing writer at The E. The story announcing the layoff reported that the position of editor had been eliminated.
Let us be clear: you cannot run a newspaper, any newspaper, without an editor. Our view is that Lee Enterprises, a media conglomerate run from out of state, is culpable in the demise of the news industry, and a downright menace to our community.
In the last year, Lee has laid off many local reporters, closed its Corvallis GT office, and turned our daily paper into a delocalized shell of its former self. All while touting their subscriptions as a support for “local” journalism. Meanwhile, mounting case studies show that local newsrooms and good writing are turning it around at local papers around the country, so long as they get their hands on the funding to do so. As it turns out, people still want to know about the intersections most likely to kill them, and who is responsible for dragging their feet in fixing such things – and they’d rather not be bored to tears reading about it.
It’s not like Lee doesn’t have the money to uphold the editor position. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway has been pumping dollars Lee’s way since at least 2012. So, what gives, you may be asking. If you visit the Lee Enterprises website, click on About, then click Executive Team, all but one member is essentially from either advertising, IT, or finance.
On a very basic level, the people running Lee Enterprises don’t know they’re running a community trust. They believe they’re selling billboards that are thrown on driveways. It’s a failure of moral imagination — this abdication of the imperative to be interesting and useful, and we suspect it will eventually catch up with Lee’s financial wellbeing, too.
In the interim, our community loses yet another important and compelling voice — and in this instance, we believe, needlessly.