Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018
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Backlash hits Bowling Green paper over editor’s termination

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    Jan Larson McLaughlin.

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Jan Larson McLaughlin.


BOWLING GREEN — A veteran newspaper reporter who was promoted to editor of Bowling Green’s daily newspaper in 2013 was fired Monday for insubordination.

Jan Larson McLaughlin, 53, said she was handed a letter of termination accusing her of insubordination for allowing news staff members at the Sentinel-Tribune to read an editorial about the NRA that she had written, as was her normal practice.

Sentinel Publisher and Vice President Karmen Concannon killed the editorial and subsequently declined to discuss the matter with staff members who asked her to reconsider publishing it.

Mrs. McLaughlin said the rejected opinion piece called on responsible gun owners to reclaim control of the NRA in the wake of recent mass shootings across the country.

View Jan Larson McLaughlin’s editorial here

“It’s a ridiculous reason to get rid of someone who has been there for 31 years,” Mrs. McLaughlin said. “I truly love the Sentinel-Tribune, and its just very sad to me to see what’s happening to it, that it’s being chipped away at, particularly in the newsroom.”

Mrs. McLaughlin believes she was not fired for writing the editorial but for attempting to discuss the matter with the publisher, who she agrees has the right to reject an editorial.

“I knew that particular editorial was dead, but I needed to know how to proceed from there,” she said. “I needed some direction. She refused to talk to me. ... The newsroom standing behind me was just the last straw of me constantly pushing to be a better newspaper, to be who we are supposed to be in the community.”

A Sentinel reporter for 29 years, including 23 years as county editor, Mrs. McLaughlin was named editor in May, 2013, following the death of longtime editor David Miller.

“This is what I've always wanted to do,” she said. “This is who I am.”

Ms. Concannon, whose parents Thomas and Kathryn Haswell own the Monday-through-Saturday newspaper, did not return a call seeking comment.

News of Mrs. McLaughlin’s firing exploded on social media, including creation of the hashtag #istandwithjan on Twitter. People who commented even posted their support for Mrs. McLaughlin on the Sentinel-Tribune’s Facebook page, and one reader posted the NRA editorial, which was later removed. Mrs. McLaughlin said she didn’t know him or how he got a copy of the editorial.

In a Facebook posting, David Dupont, a longtime Sentinel reporter who recently resigned, called Mrs. McLaughlin “a strong voice for this community.” He said her termination severely damaged the editorial integrity of the paper.

James Foust, a professor in the department of journalism and public relations at Bowling Green State University, said Mrs. McLaughlin has taught classes and given presentations at BGSU over the years, and was well-liked by students and faculty.

When Mr. Foust heard of Mrs. McLaughlin’s termination, he said he was shocked.

“She’s somebody who believes in the importance of journalism,” Mr. Foust said. “She has been a part of the community and the paper for a long time, and it’s a shame actually.”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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