Media Bistro is often really good at breaking stories about changes in newsrooms nationwide. But that doesn’t give it an excuse to allow an anonymous source to slander a superb newspaper professional. Yet that’s what Media Bistro did, in a wholly and unforgiveably vile manner.
In a story about Washington Times veteran Wes Pruden calling a recently departed staffer little more than a “stenographer” — a dispute about which I know nothing, other than to note that it is more sexist to assume the word “stenographer” is sexist than it necessarily is to use the word in the first place — Media Bistro allowed the story to swerve into a hit-and-run attack against an entirely innocent bystander, Frank Perley, who has been at the newspaper since months before it even published its first edition. Here’s what the jerks at Media Bistro printed:
Baker’s duties were hardly those of a stenographer… They included handling lineups everyday and commissioning and editing the op-eds. She also informally supervised Frank Perley, the articles editor or “senior editor”, making sure, according to our sources, that “he didn’t f*** up the pages too much. He’s an old moonie guy notorious for putting typos and incorrect facts in pieces. Been at the paper since it started.”
This is complete and utter hogwash. I worked in the opinion department of The Washington Times for two years, from the spring of 2009 until the spring of 2011. If there were any one person during that whole time who was a consummate professional (and this is not to say that anybody else was not one), it was Frank Perley. Not only did he not “put typos and incorrect facts” into stories, but he was absolutely first-rate at catching typos and tiny factual goofs that crossed his desk and taking them out. He was an extremely careful copy editor and a very efficient manager of copy flow.
As an aside that isn’t relevant to this particular attack on his professionalism, but still worth noting as testimony to his character, which also was sideswiped in the hit-and-run report, I should also mention that Perley was a delight to be around, always friendly and usually cheerful. He did his job, stayed out of the way of all the internal controversies that occurred while I was there (the family that owns the paper was notoriously squabbling at the time), was pleasant to everybody, and kept everything on schedule.
Media Bistro owes Perley an apology. And fast.
(NOTE: Media Bistro printed the F-word in the quotation, but I took the liberty of showing the decency to monkey with the internal quote enough to substitute the asterisks.)