The Sarasota Herald-Tribune Journalists’ Union took to social media to criticize a publishing decision by the paper.
Following controversy over an opinion piece defending the Proud Boys, the Sarasota Newspaper Guild suggests the root problem may be understaffing.
“We call on Gannett, the owner of the Herald-Tribune, to support local journalism by hiring more local journalists at fair wages, including those who may have read the article before it was published and prevented it from seeing the light of day. with these serious issues intact,” reads a statement from the guild, shared on its Facebook page.
The newspaper published a guest notice on Sunday of Melissa Radovitch championing the Proud Boys as “caring school parents”. After Florida Politics editor Pierre Schorsch on Twitter called the decision to direct the play, an outpouring of national criticism followed.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Orsi issued a public apology and the newspaper removed the article from its website.
In Orsi’s article, she promised changes to the process for checking outside submissions before they go to print.
“Our editorial process did not prevent this column from being published as it appeared, which did not meet our standards. We are adding additional top-level review of the column acceptance and editing process guests for publication,” Orsi wrote. “We will continue to publish varied opinions from all political backgrounds on important local issues. But this decision has not lived up to our standards, and we apologize to of our readers.
But the guild suggests this glosses over deeper issues and shifts the burden to already taxed newsroom workers.
“While we thank Jennifer Orsi for her statement, the Guild asks to be notified of any changes for an ‘additional upper-level review of the process for accepting and editing guest columns for publication’, so that we, as newsroom staff, may we be better informed about how a piece like this got printed.
The statement also raises journalistic concerns not addressed by Orsi, such as any mention of previous reporting on Radovich to provide context.
“The guest column also failed to achieve an invaluable standard in journalism: basic training,” the guild’s statement said.
“The original piece to which Radovich was responding, published on June 24, stated that “…the other founders were Proud Boy Nicolas Radovitch, and his wife, Melissa Radovich.’ This important context was not included in Radovich’s guest column. This fact was overlooked during the editorial process, resulting in the shameful misprint.
The guild condemned the content of the column and reiterated the most frequent criticisms. Radovich presented the group as just concerned parents, even as a congressional panel very publicly investigation of the role of leaders during the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
“The column failed to single out the Proud Boys for what they really are: a far-right extremist group that promotes white nationalist views, participated in the January 6 insurrection and is labeled a terrorist group overseas,” the guild said. “The organization should in no way be defended or considered part of political discourse.”