OLD Media Moves

Courant in dispute with former consumer columnist

August 18, 2009

Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times writes that The Hartford Courant is disputing the allegations by former consumer columnist George Gombossy over his departure from the paper.

Gombossy, the paper’s business editor for 12 years, alleges that the paper wouldn’t run one of his columns because it was about a major advertiser.

Clifford writes, “Mr. Gombossy said he had the column approved by his editor. But the article did not run, and on Aug. 3, he said, he was called into the office. ‘I was told that my position was being eliminated, and they were going to have a different kind of consumer columnist,’ he said. He said his performance reviews had always been strong. ‘They had no intention of laying me off until this happened.’

“Ms. Hazell said the Sleepy’s column was held, not killed. ‘George could have written about Sleepy’s,’ she said. ‘We’ve never had and never will have a policy to favor advertisers in any form,’ she said. ‘Our concerns had largely to do with sourcing.’ In fact, she said, Mr. Gombossy’s final column, which ran on Sunday, was about an advertiser, Connecticut Light & Power.

“Mr. Gombossy was laid off because he was not interested in a different position, which would focus on consumer complaints and not investigative work, Ms. Hazell said. ‘My understanding is that he just wasn’t interested in the direction we were going,’ she said.

“Mr. Gombossy said he plans to file a lawsuit against The Courant. He has started a Web site, ctwatchdog.com, where he has posted the column about Sleepy’s. Ms. Hazell said the posting was slightly different from the last version she saw.”

Read more here.

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