Leaked email halts SF newsroom
'I am fiercely competitive: I want to win a Pulitzer Prize'
Never have the perils of bad mouthing your colleagues by office email been so vividly illustrated as in the unfortunate case of a San Francisco newspaper reporter.
The city's two daily newspapers Chronicle and the Examiner are changing owners, with rival staff scrambling to get on the morning Chron. (Actually there is rumoured to be a third daily - some rubbish turns up on our doorstep now and again outside Fortress Register, but we've far been too busy to pick it up and see what it is).
Examiner editor Phil Bronstein then invited journalists to stake out what jobs they'd like to have under the merged operation. Which one journalist did, in spectacularly reckless fashion, and her thoughts were rapidly leaked throughout the companies email systems.
At this stage, we'd better warn you of some basic safety precautions. For what follows is so toe-curlingly embarrassing that before we'd finished reading the email, we'd already written off a sturdy pair of Caterpillar hiking boots. It came to our attention thanks to San Narcisco's answer to Dorothy Parker, the consistently magnificent Laurel Wellman, who writes the Dog Bites column in SF Weekly. So if you're ready, let's go.
"First off," writes the reporter, Julian Guthrie, "I'd like to say that I want to be the chief/senior education reporter at the Chronicle. I'm not interested in joint bylines. I'm not interested in collaborating on investigative pieces or longer-term projects. If a story is breaking, and I haven't heard about it, I'd jump in and share that story. However, any story that I come up with is mine," she writes. (As you always suspected, Julian is a girl's name).
"I am fiercely competitive: I want to win a Pulitzer Prize" she continues.
She then suggests a sideways move for her more experienced counterpart at the Chron, one that would ease herself into her rival's shoes. Her rival has "been trying to cover education for two decades," she admits (miaoww...) but, "I have been covering education since 1996. By most accounts, I have dominated the beat."
As SF Weekly's Laurel Wellman notes "It belatedly occurs to us that, if only we'd put the same level of effort into scheming for career advancement as we have put into, say, organizing our shoe wardrobe, we could be running this place."
Guthrie then goes on to fire miscellaneous barbs at established Chronicle columnists - remember, this is the paper she's trying to join - and suggests exotic foreign assignments for herself too, to bring that desired Pulitzer all the closer. She also specifies elaborate seating arrangements listing colleagues she would rather or rather not be placed with. Clearly, a very particular lady.
"That certainly isn't what I was looking for," Bronstein told SF Weekly.
We could reveal more - particularly how the Guthrie email sparked off a series of hilarious parodies by Chron staff. But at this stage we'll point you right into the capable hands of Ms Wellman herself, who in an unscientific poll of Register US Bureau Chiefs held this evening, was voted the US columnist most in possession of The Right Stuff. And as we suspect you don't read The Register to be bored or to read bad writing ... click here and treat yourself. There's no finer glory in all of San Francisco than the Dog Bites diva herself, and you don't even have to leave your seat. Go on. You deserve it. ®
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