Former NBCChicago.com staffer Steve Rhodes has resigned after his managers spiked a pair of his stories on the WMAQ site.
The NBC O&Os of course overhauled their websites last year, playing up lifestyle content and attitude at the expense of hard news. Site traffic has gone up considerably.
Rhodes penned a long essay on “The Beachwood Reporter” offering his detailed take on why his stories were killed; he says his bosses bowed to pressure from the targets of his investigative work. One of the stories was about newly promoted Tribune chief Randy Michaels.
Phone conversations with the NBCChicago.com managing editor and his boss followed that day and the following Monday (December 4 and 7) in which I was told that “someone from the Tribune sent an e-mail to New York” and “somebody in New York was contacted by somebody - you can read between the lines.”
There was not a “comfort level” in Chicago with what happened, I was told, but it happened at “the highest levels” of the company. And that “the highest levels of the company” made the decision “to remove” the Michaels post.
NBC Chicago says it did not bow to pressure in pulling the stories offline. It said in a statement:
“We continually review and monitor the content on our sites. The local team here in Chicago made an internal editorial call to remove the post. No outside factors contributed to this decision.”