It was hardly the most professional thing to do, but you can hardly blame young reporter Khristopher J. Brooks for whipping up a fake press release to celebrate his new job at Delaware’s The News Journal. He’d already applied at 30 other places, after all, and it’s hard out there for a reporter nowadays. Brooks posted the harmless, fun piece to his Tumblr blog on April 5.
His offense? According to Romenesko, “improper use of the newspaper’s logo on his personal sites, and for using executive editor David Ledford’s hiring-letter quotes in his press release.”
Perhaps Brooks made a mistake in quoting Ledford’s letter. But surely in the history of journalism misdeeds, his mistake ranks somewhere between forgetting to close a quotation mark and spilling coffee on your editor’s shoes. Why fire him?
Ledford’s quotes from the hiring letter actually reveal the myopia-induced confusion in the newspaper’s decision. Ledford apparently told Brooks “we believe your commitment to narrative storytelling and your natural curiosity make you an excellent fit for our team as we move deeper into the Digital Age.”
Yet, ironically, the writer's fake press release was intended as a harmless way to bring something fresh to the stagnant newspaper industry. Brooks told Romenesko: “I’m a really big NBA fan and whenever an NBA team acquires a new player there’s always a press release announcing it. I’d look at those releases and think, ‘The organization is really proud’ of the new hire.” Brooks pointed out that newspapers rarely do this, but thought, “What’s keeping me from doing it?”
Sure, Brooks’ self-aggrandizing press release is a little egotistical and silly. But who cares? The newspaper hired Brooks to help it move deeper into the “digital age” and then fired him for trying something new (on his personal Tumblr blog, no less).
Brooks is already trying out another new idea. On Twitter, he’s experimenting with a hashtag: #hireKhrisBrooks.
If The News Journal knows how, it should give him a retweet.
Photo via Khristopher Brooks