BC Business editor Matt O'Grady resigns over story spiked by publisher
The editor-in-chief of BC Business magazine, Matt O'Grady, has resigned after publisher Peter Legge killed an investigative cover story as the magazine was going to press. Today was O'Grady's last day on the job.
The spiked cover article, by Richard Littlemore, concerned a libel case won by former senator Ed Lawson against the Vancouver Sun's business columnist David Baines. The article had been thoroughly lawyered, O'Grady told Canadian Magazines. Legge considered the matter for three weeks before killing the story on the last day of production.
BC Business is a monthly with a circulation of 26,000, published by Canada Wide Media Ltd., which also produces 11 self-owned magazines, 30 custom publications and a range of e-newsletters and websites.Peter Legge is chairman and CEO.
O'Grady became editor-in-chief of the magazine in March 2008 after being a freelancer and, before that, associate editor at Vancouver magazine and assistant editor at Western Living. In the time he was with the magazine it won 22 Western Magazine Award nominations.
Baines and Canwest Publishing Inc. (former owners of The Vancouver Sun) were sued by Lawson for $100,000 in general damages and up to $50,000 in aggravated damages for defamation as a result of an article published March 12, 2008 concerning Lawson being a director of Arctic Oil and Gas. A Vancouver Sun story about the suit published last October reported
[Lawson's] lawyer, Roger McConchie, had argued that Baines had artfully crafted his article to infer [sic] that Lawson, the former Canadian head of the Teamsters union, was corrupt.
Lawyer Robert Anderson, acting for Baines, had earlier described Arctic Oil and Gas's claims of energy reserves to be the equivalent of owning moose pasture.
In a Vancouver Sun story, Legge says
"The simplest thing is that we just had a difference of opinion whether it was a right fit for BC Business." He said he invited O'Grady to "come back and see me this afternoon. I don't want you to resign." Tuesday, Legge said: "It's tragic - for me as well as BC Business. I like Matt. He did a good job. He worked hard."
(Interestingly, Littlemore, the author of the article, was reported to have advised O'Grady that the spiking of the story wasn't worth quitting over.)
However, O'Grady told The Sun's Malcolm Parry
"I like Peter. I respect his right. He owns the company. It's his reputation. It's his bank account on the line. I don't begrudge him the decision he made. But I don't regret the decision I made. When you've lost the confidence of the publisher, that's a good time to part ways."
Six months after O'Grady quit, and having found no replacement, Canada Wide has named Director of Editorial Kathleen Freimond as editor in chief of BCBusiness with other editorial staff handling the copy. It will be interesting to see what editorial vision this produces. I guess if you have no editor they can't quit over things like editorial integrity.
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