On Oct. 13, Dodge City Daily Globe reporter Claire O’Brien in which she used an anonymous source who commented on a murder case she was reporting. The source made allegations that people involved in the case were quite dangerous.
O’Brien was subsequently subpoenaed by Ford County Attorney Terry Malone to reveal the name of the anonymous source. I felt this was outrageous and a blatant attack on the First Amendment, which made it clear how necessary a Shield Law for Kansas truly is. O’Brien refused to give up the name for a while, and she was held in contempt. Eventually she gave up the source. I didn’t like it, but she did because the source told her it was OK, which made it right in my mind. However, then it came out that O’Brien never even knew the true identity of the source, so was the subpoena and the contempt order worth it? I don’t think so.
Now the story is unraveling even more. On Friday, O’Brien was fired by The Globe.
According to Associated Press reporter Roxana Hegeman, O’Brien believes her termination is in retaliation for statements she made that “the newspaper’s corporate owners had refused to pay for her legal representation and scuttled her efforts to find independent legal help unless she testified — claims that GateHouse Media Kansas Holdings, which owns the newspaper, has denied.”
That is a pretty heavy accusation. It is one I would at first be inclined to dismiss as someone upset about being fired for reasons that could be varied and unknown to anyone but the editors at The Globe and may or may not have anything to do with the anonymous source situation, except she does work for a GateHouse publication.
GateHouse publications don’t have the most sterling reputations, and the company is widely know for not doing well financially (exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C, exhibit D), which makes it plausible the company would get upset for O’Brien complaining about a lack of financial support. They are a bunch of greedy people. They are trying to cut their way to profitability instead of looking at the real reason they aren’t doing well — they produce inferior products that are hurt more every day by the way the company tries to eliminate jobs and make a few do the work of many in an attempt to keep costs down.
The saddest part? In the heads of the company leaders, that actually makes sense.
In the AP report, O’Brien also made other interesting accusations.
“O’Brien said that after that Feb. 12 hearing, she was forced to sign some disciplinary forms, including one claiming she had defamed GateHouse Media . . . She also found the locks on the newspaper building had been changed after the hearing, and she was the only reporter not given a key, O’Brien said. Other work restrictions included a requirement that a manager be present whenever she was in the building, O’Brien said,” according to Roxana Hegeman’s report.
From the onset everyone who didn’t support the use of an anonymous source and her desire to keep the identity confidential were shading O’Brien as the culprit in this story. However, it is starting to look like GateHouse might be the evil villain once this is all said and done.