Fired (and resigned) journalists extract literary revenge on their former bosses.

Media criticism.
June 6 2011 6:57 AM

"I Would Have Loved To Piss on Your Shoes"

What Mark Schlueb and other fired or resigned journalists wrote to their bosses on the way out.

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"The last time I was up in front of this group was 27 years ago, when we won General Excellence for Harper's. I was fired the next day. And as the chairman of the board was escorting me to the guillotine, he said, 'Didn't I hear you won some sort of prize?' "
Michael Kinsley, upon accepting the Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors, March 2010.

"I knew that newspapers were dying daily, that the future of long-form journalism was at risk. And I knew how lucky I was to still have my job. But as my recent story on Raoul Wallenberg was cut from the three parts we'd agreed upon to two to one, I also knew that it was time for me to leave the paper, particularly once I learned that some in management had expressed the same opinion."
Josh Prager, upon leaving the Murdoch-ized Wall Street Journal, April 2009.

In the summer of 1998, Si Newhouse offered Michael Kinsley the editorship of The New Yorker. Kinsley said he wanted 48 hours to think about it. During that interval, he had dinner with Newhouse and members of his family, and when he returned to his hotel there was a message for him to call Newhouse.

"[Newhouse] asks me to say that I had withdrawn my name [from the running]. I say I'm not going to lie about it, but I'll decline to discuss it. He mumbles something and I mumble something and we hang up.


"On reflection (about two minutes' reflection), I decided I was not inclined to do him the favor of not discussing it."
Michael Kinsley, in a widely distributed email, July 1998.

"I know the difference between journalism and a slogan. 'Keeping them honest'is a slogan."
Aaron Brown, formerly of CNN, knocking the catch-phrase of his successor, Anderson Cooper, March 2011

"How do you expect the dedicated and loyal reporters at the [Akron] Beacon Journal to keep putting out a quality paper when you're eliminating nearly a quarter of the reporting staff? You faceless corporate hacks take a break from your golf game long enough to scream that circulation must stay up, but then you order arbitrary budget cuts that force the elimination of entire sections of the Sunday paper. And when that's not enough, you order layoffs that eliminate the very employees who have helped keep circulation from falling. Seriously, the kid who changes the oil in my car could run Knight Ridder with more foresight than you."

"Don't worry about me; I'll land on my feet. I don't regret coming here, even though I've been laid off now. In fact, my only regret is that you haven't come to visit the Beacon Journal. I would have loved to piss on your shoes."
Mark Schlueb *, in a letter to Knight Ridder CEO Tony Ridder, April 2001.

"Ever since the Chandler Family plucked Mark Willes from General Foods, placing him at the helm of Times Mirror with a mandate to destroy the institutions in ways that would boost dividends, journalism has suffered at Newsday."
Laurie Garrett, upon making her leave of absence from Newsday permanent, February 2005.

After New York magazine editor Clay Felker took over the Village Voice in 1974, "star writer Ron Rosenbaum ripped up his (meager) paycheck in the New York editor's face, saying there was 'no amount of money' that could make him work for 'the piece of shit' the Voice was certain to become. Rosenbaum then stormed out, a dramatic gesture, topped only by Felker's puzzled reaction: 'Who was that?' "
—From "The Voice Beyond the Grave," by Mark Jacobson, New Yorkmagazine, Nov. 6, 2005.