Chronicle: Employees were FIRED! No, wait...take that back
Yesterday, the Chronicle ran a story headlined, "Fired workers blast Aramark."
Today on page A2, in a little box, midpage, is this correction:
Four Houston Independent School District cafeteria managers have received letters from their supervisors notifying them that they are being recommended for termination, but HISD has not made a final determination regarding their employment status. A story on Page B1 of Saturday's City & State section reported that the letters said the workers "will be fired," and the headline asserted the workers already had been fired.
If you go to the online story now, the headline reads, "HISD cafeteria workers blast Aramark."
This is developing into quite a pattern -- the Chronicle blasts HISD and then we find some information or facts the reporter didn't include. Sometimes we get a correction or clarification, and sometimes we don't. At least this time we got a fairly straightforward correction. HISD spokesman Terry Abbott forwarded us the statement he gave to the Chronicle, prior to Saturday's story:
HISD has NOT moved to terminate these employees.
These allegations have never been made to HISD. However, now that they have been made to the Chronicle, we will review the allegations even though they have not been made to HISD.
However, ARAMARK strongly denies that anything inappropriate was done in this process. ARAMARK describes the process as simple verification of data.
It is not unusual at all -- in fact it is expected in every organization -- that efforts will be made to insure that data is complete.
Abbott's first point was that HISD has not fired the employees. The Chronicle's first word in the headline was, "Fired." Wow.
And Jason Spencer writes this:
On Friday, the women decided to come forward after receiving letters from their supervisors notifying them that they will be fired.
As we can see from Abbott's statement, HISD officials were not aware of what happened and found out about it from the Chronicle. Spencer doesn't make that clear in the story; he just writes "the women decided to come forward." Here is what Abbott told blogHOUSTON:
These workers are on paid leave while HISD reviews this matter. The letters the story references are letters from supervisors, not HISD administrators who make final recommendations on termination of employees. Any move to terminate these employees would come from the general manager of operations, and no such move has been made.
The suspicious side of me wonders why the four employees went to the local newspaper before they took their concerns to HISD officials.
My intent here is not to defend Aramark or HISD. I have serious concerns about the government coughing up $69 million for breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks, as I've said before. I think it's important, though, to point out another example of poor Chronicle journalism.
I really don't know what to make of the Chronicle's apparent predisposition to judge HISD guilty in spite of the facts. That doesn't strike me as an ideal state for professional journalists.