Mar 1, 2006

Telling the truth is no picnic either

I was fired from my last journalism job as editor of a financial newsletter after someone threatened to sue the company for libel for a special report I wrote about the trade association of the industry I covered. The item was a gratuitous bit of snark about someone that I threw in a little sidebar.

As I was writing it, I wondered about the wisdom of including it but at that publication we prided ourselves on our no-holds-barred coverage. Also, I had a publisher over me who had final say over the whole thing. Well, we went with it. Then a letter was written threatening suit. And the publisher and I were called in one by one to explain ourselves to the three owners and the head of personnel. He went first. As soon as I entered the room I knew I was done for. And so it went: I was out.

(Moral of this story: Never trust a man with an eyepatch. But that's a tale for a different day.)

Anyhoo, a few days later I got a call from a friend who arranged to have me interview at another, bigger newsletter company. My friend advised me to tell the truth as the two companies were close competitors and they'd probably find out anyway. So I did. And, boy, was it hard spitting that out. I had one of those out-of-body experiences where you see yourself as in a movie. My heart was racing madly, my palms were sweaty, I was stuttering. I did everything but throw myself on the floor and beg for forgiveness, although I may have kissed the hem of my interlocutor's garment--the details are hazy. Suffice to say it was painful.

They say confession is good for the soul, but I don't much care for self-flagellation in public. And apparently it worked as I was offered the job. But I didn't take it.

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