Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tupelo newspaper firm refuses same-sex marriage notices, bans employees from talking about policy

Clay Foster, publisher and CEO of Journal, Inc.—which owns the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Mississippi Business Journal, eight weekly publications in Northeast Mississippi and five weeklies in the suburban Memphis area—told employees that if they have a problem with the company's refusal to accept same-sex wedding announcements, they can work somewhere else, Robbie Ward reports for the Huffington Post. Employees were also told to keep their opinions to themselves and refrain from speaking about the Supreme Court decision on social media.

Foster held a meeting with the company's top leaders two days before his column preaching the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman appeared in the Daily Journal on July 5, Ward writes. He informed employees of the marriage announcement policy and "said any employee could leave who didn't like his column or the company's policies related to stifling speech at the news organization and discriminating against same-sex couples."

Foster said in an email to employees: "We'll be discussing it more in the coming days, but what we don't need is one of our papers taking an editorial position on the issue independent of any company position on the matter. I doubt that any would, but it's safer not to assume."

The Journal's 30,000-plus circulation makes it the largest newspaper in the rural U.S.  Journal, Inc. was founded by George McLean, a leader in regional economic development theory and practice. He founded the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi to "raise the quality of life for all Mississippians." 

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