in Thoughts and whatever

On Sunday, PressPassQ, the LGBT news-media’s trade newsletter, published a short story on my departure from QNotes.

First, I’d like to thank writer and colleague Chuck Colbert for a professional, balanced and straight-forward piece on this issue and for reaching out to me for comment.

This was the first time I’ve spoken out on my departure. I did so with some unease. I had not planned on commenting so publicly on largely internal disagreements and personnel matters, though my former employer had already done so publicly in his newspaper. Ultimately, if a story was to be written, I decided it was important that my LGBT news-media and other community colleagues know a fuller context — specifically the newspaper’s and publisher Jim Yarbrough’s long-standing institutional and personal involvement in local Pride activities — before making snap judgments about my own involvement.

I’ve published my full original statement to Colbert below.

Briefly, I also want to respond to a small section in the report. Colbert writes, “Reached by phone, Yarbrough declined to comment further. However, he did point out that there is a difference between a publisher serving on LGBT community boards of directors and an editor serving.” This is precisely the kind of sentiment lacking a fuller context which I intended to address by my statement. Yarbrough is attempting to draw a very fine line here, if one exists at all in this particular situation. Yarbrough cannot claim to draw such a distinction in this case given: (1) He invited his editor to join the board in question; (2) His own routine involvement with the organization; and (3) His own routine involvement in the editorial decision-making processes at the newspaper (both in the past and especially now while he currently serves as both publisher and in a legitimate editorial role as “managing editor”).

You can click here to read Colbert’s short piece.

My full statement to PressPassQ:

I am proud to look back on my nearly eight years as editor of QNotes. The time I spent there taught me a great deal about my own community, lessons I’ll cherish and put to greater use in my continued community involvement. My voluntary departure from QNotes was the result of a longstanding disagreement between the publisher and me. This contention stemmed from several unrelated issues, one being my involvement both as a volunteer and a board member for a local community organization, Charlotte Pride.

QNotes publisher Jim Yarbrough wrote about my departure in a commentary published on Aug. 28, 2015. I have opted not to respond publicly to Yarbrough’s recounting of the events which led to my departure. In the interest of clarity now, I will address two important issues:

  1. Yarbrough invited me to join the organization’s board shortly after I was hired as editor in 2007. At the time, he served as the group’s co-chair and, later, in other roles. Other staff members at the newspaper, including my predecessor, an associate editor and others, were also intimately involved in the organization for some time. As an institution, the newspaper itself was highly involved in this community organization and other local pride activities for at least two decades. Yarbrough did not disclose this crucial piece of context in his commentary. During my tenure, I consistently addressed this particular institutional conflict of interest in the most transparent and professional manner while avoiding other conflicts. My involvement, as well as Yarbrough’s and the newspaper’s, with this community organization is of general public knowledge in our local community.
  2. Contrary to Yarbrough’s commentary, there was never a mutual understanding or agreement among the staff regarding my involvement in this organization.

These are the only two points in contention that I’m willing to discuss at this time. Rehashing old, private arguments in the public sphere does neither Yarbrough and me nor the newspaper and our community any good.

I wish Yarbrough, the newspaper and its remaining staff well. QNotes has served Charlotte’s and the Carolinas’ LGBT communities for three decades. I am proud to have been a part of that history for nearly eight years. I was able to build the newspaper’s online presence and properly prepare it for modern community journalism in a fast-paced media environment. Additionally, I was proud to steer the newspaper’s editorial direction toward daily news writing, breaking news, top-notch local LGBT political coverage and local political analysis. I’ll forever cherish the work I did for my community while serving at the editor’s desk.

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