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MnIndy parent to staff: shut up or you’re fired

In a shocking example of someone not leaking a memo to me, Jim Romenesko’s blog reprints this jaw-dropper from Minnesota Independent’s parent outfit, Center for Independent Media.

In essence, the memo tells the chain’s remaining muckraking journalists not to talk to muckraking journalists calling about recent budget slashing.

The memo’s author, local CIM official Robin Marty, demands reporters funnel inquiries to her for an official response.

For the record, I’ve emailed Marty — no response. CIM spokesperson Dan Walter, emailed me Monday that “a letter from the publisher on the site tomorrow explaining the situation” would be posted — it wasn’t. And requests to interview CIM poohbah David Bennahum have been met with Walter’s cordial stonewalling (though a Colorado site gets hilariously contradictory interviews with CIM’s leadership here.)

If Bennahum thought this was going to blow over, Romenesko just blew him up.

Here’s the memo:

Memo to Center for Independent Media employees

Hi, everyone. I know the last 24 hours have been a lot to think about. We also understand that one of the the assets of online media is that everyone knows lots of reporters, and has established very close relationships with their media, both local and national. I need to ask you all to please not respond to media questions about the CIM and our restructuring process.

If you receive any calls or emails, please forward that information on to me so I can direct inquiries to the proper channel. It is imperative that you do not talk to the media yourself about this issue. Any violation of this will be grounds for immediate dismissal.

Thank you for your assistance in this, and one again, thank you all for continuing on with us. If you have any questions, please do hesitate to contact me.

Robin Marty
Deputy Program Director
Center for Independent Media

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Andrew Eggenberger on 11/12/2008 - 01:13 pm.

    If they sent everyone a slightly different memo in order to guard against and identify leakers, there may be one layoff yet to come in the restructuring plan.

  2. Submitted by Joel Rosenberg on 11/12/2008 - 02:03 pm.

    True. And given how few reporters there are left at the Minnie Mon, if she flips a coin twice to decide who to fire (assuming that she gets to decide such stuff; I wouldn’t know) she’s got a 25% chance of getting the right leaker.

  3. Submitted by Beth Wright on 11/13/2008 - 07:46 am.

    Gotta appreciate the highly appropriate typo in the last line!
    “…please do hesitate to contact me.”

  4. Submitted by Lisa Eisenstat on 11/14/2008 - 07:50 am.

    Doesn’t sound very independent and it also sounds improbable? One is tempted to ask when we muzzle the press about the press – are we not in fact denying them the same rights they defend for others when they print sensitive stories…that of the first amendment right to free speech, and the protection of that right somehow doesn’t cover their employees or the reported who have those close ties?

    Does this memo not also speak to a clear lack of independence in the media – but rather one that is manipulated? If they handled this right (and thats a whole other story) they wouldn’t have to protect themselves by muzzling their employees – the truth would have been obvious and they would have been just another organization affected by the current economic environment. Handled poorly they look like fools.

    Okay so let’s say I get off my liberal soap box. Who is going to trust this organization in the future? Can we believe what this group has to report on if we know that by simply telling their staff not to talk to the media they comply? Throw their arms up and say “golly gosh Ms./Mr. Reporter we can’t print that particular point of view because our owners wouldn’t like it.They always tell us what the real facts are”

  5. Submitted by Tom Poe on 11/14/2008 - 11:55 am.

    Censorship is important. Especially in independent media. How else are you going to convince corporate advertisers they can control what is seen and heard by the masses? It’s just tough bringing old business methods into the 21st century. Hopefully, they’ll gain new readers on this news.

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