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McClatchy fires top Idaho Statesman editor over tweet about newspaper's resources

The firing drew national media attention before McClatchy officials offered Christina Lords her job back, but she declined the offer.
Credit: KTVB
The front page of the Idaho Statesman on Feb. 13, 2020.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Statesman's top editor was fired after she criticized the newspaper's parent company for withholding resources while encouraging people to support the daily newspaper. 

Christina Lords posted in a since-deleted tweet Friday that publishing company McClatchy, which owns the Statesman, declined to pay for a Microsoft Excel account for the paper's newest investigative journalist. The tweet included a call for Idahoans to subscribe to the newspaper.

Lords was fired, effective immediately, on Monday. The editor told the Washington Post that McClatchy informed her that she was being terminated for violating their social media policy. 

A McClatchy spokesperson told the Washington Post that “the full facts of the situation are not accurately represented on social media.”

KTVB reached out to McClatchy for comment and was told by a spokesperson that they could not elaborate on Lords' dismissal beyond what they told the Washington Post and could not state what facts were left out on the discussion on social media.

By Tuesday evening, Lords tweeted that McClatchy offered her position back, with stipulations that she said she was not comfortable with. 

She declined the offer, saying, "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. I can’t thank you enough for the support."

Lords' sudden firing on Monday sparked a swift backlash by current and former Statesman staff members, many of whom called for her to be reinstated immediately.

Last year, many of the Statesman's staff formed a union, the Idaho News Guild, in order to better speak on behalf of the staff with McClatchy when the company declared bankruptcy. The national chain of over 30 newspapers was later bought by hedge fund Chatham Asset Management.

When the union was formed in March, employees cited rampant turnover, pay, layoffs, and unpaid furloughs, among other reasons as to why they decided to unionize.

The union blasted the decision to fire the 34-year-old editor, who is not part of the union. In a tweet, the union said McClatchy representatives refused to answer questions about dismissing Lords.

"'New McClatchy' promised it was different. Different apparently means firing a rising young editor beloved by her employees — all for daring to advocate for resources for reporters.  This a huge loss to Boise and the Idaho Statesman's readers," Michael Lycklama, a Statesman sports reporter who joined the staff in 2014, tweeted Monday night.

The Idaho News Guild is now demanding that Lords be given her position and full benefits back.

The union went on to say the McClatchy has refused to fill four open positions on the staff that have been left empty since July.

"How many more people will the Idaho Statesman lose before McClatchy stops undermining our journalism?" the union tweeted.

The Idaho News Guild includes some of the Statesman's reporters, a columnist and a photographer.

"The message is clear and chilling: Step out of line in the slightest, and you will be fired immediately. That's a shameful stance for a company supposedly based on honesty and transparency," Lycklama added.

KTVB also reached out to Lords for comment. At the time of publication, she has not responded for comment on the situation.