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McClatchy fires editor who complains about company’s stinginess on Twitter

The editor was fighting with McClatchy's tech department for a $100 enterprise license to install Microsoft Excel.

The editor was fighting with McClatchy's tech department for a $100 enterprise license to install Microsoft Excel.

Former Idaho Statesman editor Christina Lords. (Image: McClatchy Company, Graphic by The Desk)

The top editor of Idaho’s flagship newspaper was abruptly fired on Monday after she complained about stinginess at the publication’s parent company.

In a now-deleted tweet, former editor Christina Lords complained that the Sacramento-based McClatchy Company would not shell out the cash to purchase an investigative reporter a license to the spreadsheet program Microsoft Excel.

“We’re now fighting with McClatchy’s [digital department] to get Excel added to an investigative reporter’s laptop…to review census data,” Lords wrote. “At some point, this death by 1,000 cuts has to stop.”

The tweet ended with a callout for readers to “get a digital subscription — this is genuinely what we’re up against.”

An enterprise license to Microsoft 365, which is developed specifically for businesses and includes access to Microsoft Excel, costs less than $100 a year.

Lords’ statement appeared to be referring to a sweeping series of job losses and layoffs both before and after McClatchy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company’s assets were later sold to a hedge fund, bringing its dozens of regional newspapers under common ownership with supermarket tabloids.

In a statement sent to local news outlets, a McClatchy spokesperson defended Lords’ firing, saying the tweet violated the company’s social media policies. But a union representing journalists at the Idaho Statesman called the dismissal “abrupt and inappropriate.”

“To fire an editor for advocating for resources and encouraging people to subscribe is a remarkably disappointing decision by McClatchy management,” the letter said. “This is a devastating blow to the morale of our newsroom.”

On Tuesday, Lords tweeted that she was offered her old job back, but she declined the invitation because it contained “certain stipulations I did not feel comfortable agreeing to.”

“I appreciate the gesture to find common ground more than I can say, but the best thing for me is to make a break from this company,” she tweeted. “I can’t thank you enough for the support.”

In addition to the Idaho Statesmen, McClatchy owns the Sacramento Bee, the Modesto Bee, the Fresno Bee, the Miami Herald, the Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star among other newspapers.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).