My friend Matt Welch posted a lengthy, thoughtful contrarian view to journalistic consternation over Wendy McCaw’s management of the News-Press.
I think Matt makes good points about the mythical wall of separation between editorial and business (I’ve made the same points myself before), but I think he misses an essential rule of management: Don’t micromanage.
You can say whatever you want about McCaw’s right as an owner to set the editorial and business policies of the paper, but when you start dictating “blonde” instead of “blond,” you’ve crossed a line. And crossing that line puts you on the side of insulting professionals.
The editors who quit the News-Press may express their complaints in terms of journalistic purity, but the real issue is that they weren’t treated (if the reports are true) as professionals.
Effective executives hire the best people they can and then let them do their jobs. They don’t micromanage.
Of course, McCaw has the right to run her newspaper in any manner she likes. She can lose all of her money doing it, if that’s her desire, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a fair target for critics of her management style.