CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Last August, veteran Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Jim McNair was sacked amid a furor of buzz that he was too aggressive and unable to adapt to a faint-hearted newsroom culture. Now there is word that McNair's termination has been changed to a buyout by the Gannett Co. Inc., metro daily. The newspaper -- which escorted him off the premises and terminated him on the spot -- appears to have backed away from the firing after the 54-year-old journalist found some heavy-hitting employment law attorneys to take his case. McNair told The Daily Bellwether today that his personnel records no longer reflect a termination, and that he was indeed represented by Cincinnati employment law specialists Randy Freking and Tod Thompson.
"This is what I can say: My termination of last August has been converted to the voluntary acceptance of a buyout. That's all I'm legally able to say about the subject."
While the terms of the buyout have not been made public, they are no doubt similar to what newspaper chain Gannett has been offering at USA Today and the Detroit Free Press -- two weeks pay for every year on the job. McNair was at the Cincinnati Enquirer for six years, which means he probably collected about 12 weeks of paychecks by challenging his bosses. He came to the newspaper from the Miami Herald, and still lives in Cincinnati. McNair has been doing freelance consulting and independent research for investment companies and law firms. He's also been a suspect as the blogger behind NewsAche, which appears from time to time and disses the Enquirer as the worst metro daily newspaper in the nation. McNair insists he's not NewsAche.
That parlor game -- guessing who authors the blog -- may grow more interesting. If NewsAche disappears, it was probably McNair, whose buyout agreement likely contains the standard legal boilerplate that forbids "disparagement" of a former employer. If NewsAche continues, then it must be someone else. McNair would not be prone to risk his three months pay -- and give Gannett a chance to put him on the legal ropes -- over anonymous blogging.