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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cincy Enquirer Sacks Reporter: Was Jim McNair Asking The Wrong People Questions?

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- An Ohio journalist with years in the business, who arrived in Cincinnati after being lured from the always aggressive Miami Herald, has been sacked by the Enquirer. Jim McNair, 54, was let go suddenly without any severance pay last Thursday, after he says the bosses told him there were complaints about his work. No corrections have appeared -- and McNair doesn't know who complained, or what caused the beef that cost him his job after six years.

He was a pretty good newsman, a pain in the ass newsman, who could be a prickly pear and would poke his nose into uncomfortable places -- like the banking industry and home builders. Coming from Miami, he would have made a high weekly salary -- that alone probably made him a target in a newsroom (the Enqy in corporate-speak now calls it the "information" center) --under cost-cutting pressure from its corporate parent, Gannett Co. Inc. McNair offered to tell me his salary; I passed because I didn't want to put that kind of personal detail on the Internet. And McNair didn't have a high opinion of his editors at the Enquirer. On that, he was not alone. Too often, I hear people saying the place is run and edited by nincompoops -- from the publisher's desk on down. This morning I heard it from a university official, yesterday from two lawyers, and last Saturday at a tennis match I heard it from people in the construction and real estate industries. They think the metro daily is politically biased, slow on stories, and covers up too much that could embarrass people with power, money or the right connections. They think it writes too much pr fluff, and is dependent on handouts rather than digging. Overall, they think the metro daily is lame, and that if it were an electric utility people would be burying the Public Utility Commission of Ohio with complaints about shoddy or non-existent service.

McNair was not part of that shy-away-from-anything-hardhitting crowd. He was a sore thumb, and stuck out. One example: He wrote stories about a company that sold over-the-counter sex enhancement pills that so angered the owner that he bought a large ad in the paper denouncing McNair. The feds shared McNair's view of the company -- they are trying to seize the sex pill firm's assets and are prosecuting the bigwigs who ran it. I've seen him at Findlay Market on weekends -- the city's ancient outdoor shopping plaza that is filled with small merchants -- with his daughter, who was passing out anti-war stickers. Over the last 24 hours, I've spoken twice with McNair, who is shell-shocked and still hoping to find work in journalism. He needs a paycheck. He suspects he was canned because some large advertisers were offended -- and his suspicions are shared by many outside the Enquirer's management.

Others are picking up the story of McNair's sacking, and mostly the Enquirer comes off as stupid, possibly corrupt or determinedly intent on ridding itself of real journalism. He's getting good marks from people out of town who worked with him, and nobody knows of any serious transgressions in his background like plagiarism or shaking down sources.


  1. Good piece overall ... but I find it funny that an item by a journalist about a hard journalist found it too sensitive to list his salary. Would Sloat or McNair have offered the same courtesy to a high-paid nonprofit person or some other community leader on the hot seat?

  2. Reporters fired or forced out by The McPunks at Gannett over the last two decades could field a national all-star daily. Welcome aboard Jim.

  3. In a world where justice is rarely just, how long did Mr. McNair think he could attack so many before kharma found it's way back to him?

  4. Mr. McNair made a living by praying on local companies. Rarely if ever did he have anything positive to say, luckily, he has finally gotten what he deserves!

  5. Anon 8:42 --

    Karma as the cause of his dismissal is an interesting concept.

  6. Anon 8:44 --

    I think you are an astroturfer going from site to site and posting comments that sound suspiciously similar. You may be called out by someone as just that.

    But -- on whom did he prey? If you have a story of victimization, then share it. Or are you hiding behind anon and kicking someone while he is down? Tell us more so we can find out what driving what you are saying.

  7. NicE coming from someone Who remainS "Anonymous" while heroiCally keeping tabs on tHe Enq via your other blog.


  8. So why is everyone jumping on this jerk's bandwagon? His yellow journalism did nothing but bring scorn to the Enquirer, once a great institution before scum like McNair wrote scurrilous stories based on rumor and uncredited sources.

    It feels good to know someone like him finally gets what he deserves. With any luck, future employers will smell this turd coming and refuse to hire him.

  9. I don't know McNair from McDonalds, but I worked at the Enquirer in the 1990s - including during the Chiquita scandal. The place even then was run by nincompoops, and the paper was full of fluff, devoid of aggressive reporting and politically biased. Those are some of a million reasons I fled. I say: McNair is far better off.

  10. Hi Anon 9:26 pm --

    I think you are saying that I put out a blog called NewsAche. If you are saying that, you are completely and totally incorrect.

    I have nothing to do with it. I can barely handle this one, which takes way too much time and pays not a penny. I don't know who does the NewsAche. I would have guessed McNair. I have no idea if my guess is right, and there is evidence it is probably way off the mark. I have seen things on my sitemeter that indicate it comes via Bellsouth in Georgia. So that could rule out a Cincy origination. Or it may mean the blogger is careful to cover his/her tracks.

    One thing I know for certain -- it is not the Bellwether. Man, two blogs to feed. One is demanding enough.