Written by Gabriel Dillard
It’s becoming a regular thing for our local daily, The Fresno Bee, to be featured in national media. But it came as a shock to see The Business Journal mentioned in the latest piece, a story on GQ.com headlined “The Fresno Bee and the War on Local News.”
In a scene in the article with Mackenzie Mays, the Bee’s former education reporter mentions a photo that was published on The Business Journal’s social media. It was of our most recent office Halloween costume contest. It featured one of our staffers dressed in black, with the words “FAKE” taped on her chest, with a copy of The Fresno Bee taped below it.
I’d include the image here, but in a phone conversation that day with Bee Editor Joe Kieta, I volunteered to take the image down because it was in bad taste, especially coming from the staff of a fellow newspaper.
In that phone call, Kieta started with the premise that our staffer had dressed up as one of his reporters, which sort of perplexed me because I knew the person who came up with that costume idea probably couldn’t name even one member of The Fresno Bee newsroom. I confirmed that fact after my conversation with Kieta.
Just to be absolutely clear, no member of The Business Journal staff attempted to dress up or imitate Mays or any member of The Fresno Bee staff. I believe the costume was more meant to convey an idea – an idea that I believe is absurd on its face. The word “fake news” gets thrown out a lot, and no one in this newsroom holds that belief about The Fresno Bee.
As for the costume, in a time when the profession of journalism is under daily attack, it was indeed in poor taste for us to feature that photo in our social media. After Kieta reached out, that image was taken down, probably within an hour or two after it was posted.
I personally apologize for any confusion that may have arisen as a result.