JOHN WILPERS WRITES. The former editor of Boston's Metro, who was Rory O'Connor's principal source, sends this to Media Log. This is unedited - if you've been following the story, you'll get it. If not, you'll need to catch up.
As you can imagine, I've been following the dust-up over the Metro racism business since it finally came out. I noticed a comment or two on your blog suggesting that I did nothing when the event happened, that I should have walked out, and that I waited two years to "break" the story after I'd been "fired." ...
The morning after the event, I approached a Metro corporate exec suggesting that Steve apologize, much as I had approached an exec at AOL when I worked there when a speaker had made similarly offensive remarks about women. My appeal and others caused the AOL exec to force the speaker to apologize to the same corporate gathering the next morning. Now THERE was a corporate culture that "got it."
My similar suggestion (and I cited the AOL example) to the Metro exec, obviously, was not taken. I was not about to walk out of the dinner (as one blogger suggested) and jeopardize my job in what would have been a futile attempt to change a company whose culture was so sick as to not even realize the impact of the joke.
As to one blogger's suggestion that I waited two years and for the NYT-Metro deal to come out about this, I was interviewed by both Rory O'Connor and Alex Beam at least a year ago and haven't spoken to them since other than to get a call last week from O'Connor warning me that he was finally writing the story.
And, finally, I was not fired by Metro. They changed both Philly and Boston to bureaus with all or most editorial decision-making transferred to the NYC office. There is no more editor-in-chief of either the Philly or Boston Metro, just a news editor.
Now I'm the editor-in-chief of the Washington Examiner, a new attempt to redefine metro newspaper publishing by distributing a substantive (64 pages) daily newspaper free to homes in and around metropolitican areas, starting with Washington D.C. and San Francisco. We made our announcement Wednesday.
Wilpers and I actually competed with each other in the early 1980s. He was the editor of a few Boston-area weeklies, among them the Winchester Star. I was the editor of the Woburn Daily Times Chronicle's Winchester edition. You never know.