fail to the chief

​

The Error Banner’s masthead no longer reflects the position of "editor-in-chief".

It has been confirmed that Ms. Kelly vacated that post a few months ago.

I suspected something was up when regular Kelly’s bile-inducing editorials were no longer being printed and then her twitter feed switched from @dlkyorkeditor to something more generic.

Her departure has been rather hush-hush and it is unclear if she left of her own volition or if the paper did to their editor-in-chief what the majority of households do with their paper twice a week.

I have pointed out a growing number of inconsistencies and errors with the Banner’s mediocre output over the past 4+ years earning it’s nickname "The Error Banner".

The question is who was responsible?

An editor-in-chief (EIC) is a publication’s editorial leader, having final responsibility for all operations and policies. Typical responsibilities of editors-in-chief are outlined in this wiki entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Editor-in-chief and include:

  • Cross-checking facts, spelling, grammar, writing style, page design and photos
  • Rejecting writing that appears to be plagiarized, ghost-written, published elsewhere, or of little interest to readers
  • Editing content
  • Contributing editorial pieces
  • Motivating and developing editorial staff
  • Ensuring the final draft is complete and there are no omissions
  • Handling reader complaints and taking responsibility for issues after publication

So let’s explore how some of these responsibilities were carried out under the past 5 years.

1.) Cross-checking facts, spelling, grammar, writing style, page design and photos

Poor print quality:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/garbage-in-garbage-out/

Shoddy photography:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/pulling-focus/

Printing the same story twice in the same paper:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/seeing-double/

Printing a heading wrong labeling a death notice as "waste collection":
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/one-mans-trash-2/

and my personal favorite: misspelling the name of the paper:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/i-have-the-paper/

2.) Rejecting writing that appears to be plagiarized, ghost-written, published elsewhere, or of little interest to readers

Poaching news from their competition:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-error-banner/

Publishing anonymous tweets:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/homey-dont-play-dat/

Overlooking or selectively omitting events:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/ribfest/

Leading a news story about "pudding":
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/the-proof-is-in-the-pudding/

3.) Contributing editorial pieces

A misinformed diatribe on full day kindergarten:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/in-a-class-all-by-herself/

A germaphobic rant about the evils of shaking hands:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/put-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you-just-dont-care/

A hypocritical piece on anonymity, while printing anonymous tweets as pointed out above:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/theres-nothing-heroic-about-debora-kellys-140-characters/

Or how about one where she flat out refused to accept the ruling of a SLAPP action and instead chose to lecture about a "Councillor’s place":
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/a-series-of-unfortunate-events/

4.) Ensuring the final draft is complete and there are no omissions

Earlier this year the paper reported the facts completely wrong on a traffic accident:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/accidental-journalist/

How do you get something like that wrong?

And then we come to the most important one:

Handling reader complaints and taking responsibility for issues after publication

It was under Kelly’s leadership the Era Banner lost its noticeboard contract to a far superior paper.

Instead of taking responsibility for this she immediately lashed out on twitter claiming this was the result of "self-aggrandizement trumping sound business decisions":
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/the-era-of-her-ways/

Back in late 2011 Kelly was a guest speaker at a Womens Leadership Council which I commented on in a post here: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/were-on-a-mission-from-dog/

She said at that time: "What makes local newspapers successful, and relevant, during a time of struggle for most daily newspapers is their different perspective."
I couldn’t agree more.

What made the Banner unsuccessful and irrelevant is that it didn’t exercise a different perspective.

The combined lack of substance and leadership has provided no reason to open that paper for over a decade.

While the industry as a whole was caught is a seismic shift, forced to innovate and change The Banner appears to have resisted.

While phoning it in every issue they may as well have been signing the official Presidential Anthem of the United States, particularly this verse:

"We’ll stand by our old constitution:
The Union, it must be preserved:
Bid defiance to all revolution,
And bravely march on at the word."

With it’s chief marching on into the sunset the paper now has a great opportunity to re-establish itself.

A change at the top frees staff to rise above sloppy journalism, establish a different perspective and perhaps shake their nickname.

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