Last Friday afternoon, we published an interview with award-winning Denver Post reporter Miles Moffeit, who confirmed that he was jumping to the investigative unit at the Dallas Morning News. Moffeit had given his two-week's notice the previous day.
This item was subsequently featured on Jim Romenesko's Poynter.org journalism-news page, and the following Monday, Post editor Greg Moore told Moffeit to clear his desk and leave the office within a few hours.
Moffeit declined to comment for this blog. For his part, Moore, responding via e-mail, writes, "That is true. We paid him through his resignation date and everything he was owed. I felt it was better we part company right away. I felt some of his comments to Westword and their implications were untrue and injurious to The Post and it was better he just begin the next chapter of his career. I am grateful to Miles for all the good work he did here and wish him well in Dallas."
Which of his comments were injurious to the Post? Sources speculate that Post senior management objected to Moffeit's focus on the relative health of the Morning News in comparison to the Post.
About the Morning News, he said, "They've gone through the worst of their layoffs, and they have no debt at all, so it's not a drag on them. They've made a profit the last two quarters." In contrast, the holding company of the Post's owner, MediaNews Group, had just emerged from bankruptcy -- a word the Post avoided using whenever possible in its coverage of the filing.
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MediaNews is hardly the only media organization with financial challenges. Note that Village Voice Media, the parent company of Westword, is embroiled in a long-running lawsuit pushed by San Francisco's Bay Guardian newspaper. In a related court filing, VVM revealed earlier this month that it's been declared in default of an $80 million loan from the Bank of Montreal.
In general, MediaNews' bankruptcy seems to have significantly improved the company's prospects for the future. But while the filing erased the majority of MediaNews' debt, the plan didn't eliminate it entirely. And according to Moffeit, "I feel like it's wise to get to a newspaper that has no debt."
If this is the reason Moffeit was given the bum's rush, the reaction seems notably thin-skinned and prickly, especially in light of the impressive work to which Moore alluded above. For instance, he co-authored "Trashing the Truth," arguably the finest series to appear in the Post during Moore's tenure as editor, and his reporting had a lot to do with the decision to free Timothy Masters, who was released from jail following a murder conviction thanks to DNA evidence.
Whatever the case, expect Moffeit to continue making a mark in journalism -- but in Dallas, not Denver.