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Decommissioned Gannett newspaper vending machines. (Photo: Facebook.)

Gannett facing more criticism after publishing Proud Boys Op-Ed

Florida newspaper apologizes, says they won’t provide platform for neo-fascist group in the future

By David Wildstein, July 11 2022 2:08 pm

A Gannett-owned newspaper in Florida is under fire after publishing a guest column that defended the Proud Boys as “caring fathers” but did not disclose the author was married to a member of the organization.

Gannett owns nine daily newspapers in New Jersey.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune deleted the column from their website – it ran in their print edition on Sunday and apologized for running it at all.

“Our editorial process failed to keep this column from being published as it appeared, which did not meet our standards,” said Jennifer Orsi, the Gannett’s Florida regional executive editor, said on Monday morning.  We are adding additional, higher level review of the process for accepting and editing guest columns for publication.”

The guest column was in response to one that appeared on June 24 that had identified Nicholas Radovich as a Proud Boy, and Melissa Radovich as his wife.

Orsi said an editor “felt it fair to give her a chance to respond.”

“We strive to provide a broad range of views from our community, including opinions in opposition to those of our editorial board,” said stated.

But Orsi stopped short of identifying who approved the publication of the column.  Gannett newspapers in New Jersey typically don’t withhold names of public and private sector individuals from their news stories.

The Herald Tribune has just one opinions editor, Roger Brown.

Going forward, Orsi says the newspaper will “will not provide a forum for support of the Proud Boys.”

“To do so is antithetical to our values as an organization and is outside of our responsibility to provide a fair forum for different points of view,” she said.

Dan Sforza, who is Orsi’s counterpart in North Jersey, did not immediately respond to a 1:12 PM message asking what safeguards are in place at The (Bergen) Record to prevent a similar human error.

The Proud Boys is viewed as a neo-fascist group and five of their members are under indictment on seditious conspiracy charges for the role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The Washington Post reported last month that Gannett was dramatically decreasing the footprint their opinion pages because they were “alienating readers” and no longer producing page views.

Several New Jersey newspapers have cut back on their opinion journalism – with most opinion pieces appear only in their online edition.

Asbury Park Press executive editor Paul D’Ambrosio fired photojournalist Gustavo Martinez Contreras in 2021 for posting the photo of a pediatric nurse with the caption, “a fucking hot nurse, a total JAP, loads a syringe with a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.”  But D’Ambrosio never identified his employee by name.

Gannett’s stock is trading at $2.54-per-share on Monday, down from a $2.62 closing price on Friday.   The stock traded at $10.34 less than three years ago.

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