By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

More on the Claire O’Brien case

Media Nation has received a copy of an internal memo sent to GateHouse Media publishers by company executives with regard to the odd case of Claire O’Brien, the Kansas reporter who was fired in the midst of a dispute over confidential sources (earlier coverage). The text of the memo is as follows:

DATE: March 10, 2010

TO: GateHouse Publishers

FROM: Polly Grunfeld Sack
Brad Dennison
Gloria Fletcher
Stephen Wade

RE: Recent Developments at the Dodge City Daily Globe

As many of you know, Dodge City, Kansas reporter Claire O’Brien is no longer with GateHouse. Since leaving the company, Ms. O’Brien has made some accusations to the media that we strongly deny. They simply are not accurate. She has also made some gross misstatements of fact.

As a company we respect our employees’ privacy rights and are bound to confidentiality with personnel matters. Out of respect for the law and Ms. O’Brien’s privacy, we have chosen not to comment publicly in the press. It is not the proper forum in which to deal with personnel issues. Nor can we, in a memo such as this, address each such erroneous statement.

But we can assure you, without violating any privacy or confidentiality concerns, that GateHouse Media vigorously stood behind Ms. O’Brien during the recent, highly publicized court case, all at our cost and expense.

Recent developments are absolutely not related to any part of that legal battle.

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  1. Jim Kilchermann

    Just to be fair (and accurate), she was not fired “in the midst” of the dispute as you state – but well after everything was over with.

  2. BP Myers

    @Jim said: she was not fired “in the midst” of the dispute

    She testified on February 12th, and the next day found all of the locks changed and herself prohibited from being in the building without a manager present, until she was fired on March 7th.

    Doesn’t sound like anything was over with, and the “dispute” (whatever the hell THAT might have been about) was very much ongoing on the day she was ultimately fired.

  3. mary o'brien

    fair disclosure, I am Claire O’Brien’s mother. And have been privy to day to day details of the Globe’s very peculiar treatment of Claire. They never liked the Bonilla story. If you’re interested, call and interview her. She has many supporters in the community and everyone was shocked at her firing.
    Attention must be paid when these First Amendment issues arise. thanks!

  4. Andre Mayer

    I have no idea what happened here, but the Gatehouse memo raises a point that journalists should bear in mind when covering any employer-(individual)employee dispute: employers are often legally precluded from defending themselves effectively against accusations, because employment records are confidential. You’re no going to get both sides of the story unless the employee files a lawsuit — which therefore becomes a test of the seriousness of the accusation.

  5. Jason Carson Wilson

    Mrs. O’Brien:

    Claire and I worked together at another GateHouse property, The Journal-Standard in Freeport, Ill. Interestingly, the wife of one of the above posters was one of our supervisors and is now working at another GateHouse property.

    You’re probably aware of the treatment she received during her time at The Journal-Standard. With that said, I want to apologize for my childish behavior. I can’t and won’t apologize for stupidity of others.

    I was subjected to a similar experience of being thrown under the bus. It was a concocted situation involving two city leaders and the current editor. My there was also punctuated by being told the only reason I was in the building was because I was Black.

    Since it was a closed meeting that included the present editor and the above posters’ wife and I, I can’t prove it was said. But I know it was said just the same.

    But, enough about me. Tell Claire, she’s in my thoughts.

  6. Can Claire email me with her phone number? Or just email me. I have some questions.

  7. mary o\'brien

    Please contact claire with your ideas for support and assistance.
    she can be reached at claireobrien23 {at} gmail {dot} com
    Mary O’

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