Yesterday, I received more than the usual amount of pushback regarding a post about Tampa Bay Times editor Neil Brown suffering a heart attack.
According to an internal email from Times Publishing Co. CEO Paul Tash, Brown suffered a heart attack recently while playing tennis.
My post about Brown’s heart attack generated a lot of traffic, especially after it was highlighted by media critic Jim Romenesko.
More than one reader said they detected a level of hathos in my writing, suggesting that I enjoyed writing about Brown’s health issues.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As much as I despise the Times, particularly its cult-like modus operandi, and am still scarred by its recent attempt to destroy my life, I would not wish physical ill upon its editors or reporters. Do I hope that the Times continues to lay-off its employees? Only so much in that facing hard economic decisions may change the Times‘ thinking about its role in our community, but not because I want to see good people put out of work.
The decision to write about Brown suffering a heart attack was an easy one. It was news. And the Times knows that, despite some of its employees’ protestations of my reporting.
Brown is — after Paul Tash — one of the two or three most important people at the newspaper, which is a major organization in the community. If the Deputy Mayor of the City of St. Petersburg or Andrew Friedman, the VP of the Tampa Bay Rays, or some other significant figure in one of the organizations I regularly cover suffered a heart attack, I would write about that, too.
The question should not be why did I write about a Times editor suffering a heart attack; instead, it should be why did the Times not disclose this to its readers?