Gannett honors cashiered Free Press writer

Ohh, this is sad, even by Burlington Free Press standards.

Last Friday, the Gannett newspaper chain announced its “Best of Gannett” awards for the company’s best journalism in 2014. Among the big winners were the Arizona Republic, the Des Moines Register, the Palm Beach (CA) Desert Sun, and the Staunton (VA) News Leader.

This being a media awards thing, there were dozens upon dozens of winners. (Journalism awards are kinda like participation ribbons. I speak as a past winner of dozens myself.)

So where, oh where, can the Freeploid be?

Scroll down. Keep scrolling. More. More. Keep going. Further. Go on.

Okay, there. The Free Press’ one and only prize is a Third Place award in the category of “Narrative Writing/Voice,” which aims to honor “powerful and tightly written news and feature stories… and any examples of evocative writing regardless of platform.”

And your winner? Oh, this is embarrassing.

Tim Johnson. 

Yes, the Tim Johnson who was abruptly fired last fall after 16 years on the job.

Gee, somehow the Free Press never bothered to report this great victory. And it’s usually so quick to brag about any honor it wins, no matter how trumped-up.

Here’s a final indignity: The awards come with cash prizes. Unfortunately for Tim, the money goes not to the writers, but to their employers. Or, in Tim’s case, ex-employer.

That’s Gannett for ya, giving the prizes to itself and screwing the talent. *Correction; see second Postscript below.

Postscript. I’ve heard through the grapevine that Johnson learned of his award through this blog. Nobody at the Free Press or Gannett bothered to inform him. That’s not just sad; it’s shameful. Even if the Free Press was going to keep the check, they could have at least given him a certificate or something. 

Post-postscriptA commenter notes that I made a mistake in reading the Gannett press release. The newspapers do pocket the cash for the Public Service awards, but the writing and reporting prizes are supposed to go to the individual staff. Presumably the Free Press will be scheduling a nice presentation ceremony for Johnson. Hahahaha.

3 thoughts on “Gannett honors cashiered Free Press writer

  1. indystar1

    The Gannett news release says the public service awards go to the newspapers. The other award winners get the cash so somebody owes Tim Johnson $600 for this third-place award.

    From the release: “For the other categories, the payouts of award money are: $1,000, $800 and $600 for first, second and third place, respectively. Individuals cited as winners will share the prize money, up to four individuals per organization.”

  2. MB

    This is why, over 15 years ago, I turned down a FAR higher-paying job at the Free Press and chose instead to work at the Montpelier Times Argus — not a very good paper, either; but at least an independent one!


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