Monday, August 01, 2005

Not So Loud, the Boss Might Hear You!

Regular readers of this blog (assuming that there are any) will recall the Howard Dean scream-alike contest held outside of a venue at which the DNC chairman spoke a couple of weeks ago. Both local papers, the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review, provided coverage of the event as well as the resulting leftist/anarchist counter-protest. A good time was had by all, except for one person: the winner of the screaming contest.

The Whispers column in Sunday's Trib reports that the winner, Marky Billson, not only has ties to local political organizations, but also to a certain big-city newspaper:

DON'T BE SEEN IMITATING DEAN'S SCREAM. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editors were none too happy that a part-time writer for the paper won the recent "Howard Dean Scream-Off" contest.

The P-G has threatened to relieve Marky Billson, 34, of Hazelwood, from his sportswriting duties after Billson won the competition. The contest coincided with Dean's recent appearance at the Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville.

Billson, a member of both the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Republican committees, won the contest with a blistering impression of Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman.

We're a bit puzzled over the P-G's ire.

If the folks over there were so upset at Billson participating in a politically partisan event, why did the newspaper run a photo of him shouting into a bullhorn on its story on the competition?

Why, indeed? Maybe neither the photographer nor the PG reporter had any idea who Billson was when they covered the contest. He's just a part-timer, after all. Or if they did, they might have been trying to draw attention to him to get him into trouble. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is the kind of workplace that might not look kindly on an Republican employee who wasn't hired for the purpose of being the office's token Republican. (I've never worked for a newspaper, but I have worked in places where right of center political affiliation is frowned upon.) If that is the reason for wanting to fire him, then the PG needs to explain what his participation in this event had to do with his job. Unless he was supposed to be out reporting or in his office writing, his appearance at the scream contest had nothing to do with his job. Is his membership in local GOP committees considered a conflict of interest? It might be if he were an op/ed writer or someone who covers political stories. But he's a sportswriter.

It sounds like the PG has a lot of egg on its face. If they do decide to relieve him of his sportswriting duties (as described in the Whispers column), then he ought to check around and see if the Tribune-Review is looking for a columnist. I'm sure he'd be made to feel more at home there than at the ComPost-Gazette.


Honnistaibe said...

Maybe the run of the mill management of the paper didn't actually care that much but the lefty publisher felt a tinge of embarrasment as the sound of Billson winning was heard all the way around "the block" as it were..

Nicko McDave said...

After posting this, I Googled the reporter, the photographer and the Dean screamer. The reporter and photographer are journalistas through and through. The screamer is thoroughly immersed vocationally in the world of sports journalism and, without going into details, his Amazon wish list reveals some character flaws that are major liabilities for someone involved in politics, especially a Republican.

If the management, the publisher, or the journalistas were inclined to drag down a Republican, they had an easy target in this screamer.

geoff said...

Really, "character flaws"? I can only guess that you are referring to Marky's taste for heavy metal bands. The rest of the items are related to sports and politics.