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CBS News blogger faults fired Benicia editor

The knee jerk reaction of many journalists, when they hear a colleague was fired in an editorial dispute with management, is to defend one of their own. But Matthew Felling, who writes about the media on his CBSNews.com blog “Public Eye,” says that in the case of fired Benicia Herald editor Les Mahler, maybe his boss had a point. (For background, here are our previous posts on the case, Nov. 1, Nov. 3 and another one on Nov. 3.)

Mahler quoted an anonymous letter in his column that was critical of a City Council candidate. The candidate demanded a meeting with the paper’s ad director. After that meeting, a retraction was printed and Mahler was reprimanded for violating the paper’s policy on printing anonymous letters. Mahler says the reprimand was an infringement on his freedom of speech. Mahler was later fired and the paper is now seeking a new editor.

CBSNews.com’s Felling writes:

Felling quotes Jim Ewert, a lawyer for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, who says, “Employees don’t have absolute First Amendment rights in any workplace.”

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