Mark Whicker of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER is in JOB-FIGHTING-LIFE mode after has Wednesday morning mail-in went off like the Unabomber authored it.
Wednesday night Whicker posted an apology for the piece on the Register’s website. Interestingly though, Whicker wasn’t so apologetic when he talked to Michael David Smith at AOL FANHOUSE earlier in the day about his Jaycee Dugard-included column.
Whicker was quite clear to MDS in defending the concept of the piece, and, sadly, was perplexed at the “extreme” reader reax:
I don’t think writing about something in a sports context “trivializes” it at all. The idea that sports writers should ignore the outside world went out a long time ago.
I am quite surprised by the angry tone of the reaction. … Obviously I mis-read the emotional component of this story because the reaction really has been quite extreme. I think the intent of the column was still valid. I could have changed some ways of expressing it to make it more palatable, I suppose.
Whicker’s response to MDS on the criticism of his column borders on psychosis. It also makes you wonder how that lack of judgement has only showed up once in Whicker’s 22-year print career.
I think I know at least part of the answer, from my experience running this site.
Quick story: I went to Hawaii for a week a couple years ago, leaving site editorial to a fairly prominent newspaper columnist who wrote for SbB under a pen name. Two days into my vacation, I start getting emails from readers complaining about the spelling on the site. So I’m thinking, how bad could it be?
Then I read the site. Virtually every post dude had written the past 48 hours had at least two obvious spelling errors. There were no Michael Olowokandi-comeback posts to fall back on. Even after I told him of the mistakes he continued the misspellings, so I was forced to stop assigning him posts.
Now, with print polar caps having melted, armies of newspaper night desk editors have been wiped out. And, not coincidentally, you get what we got today: Whicker’s insanity slips through the cracks.
It appears the Register is going to give Whicker a pass on this. And perhaps that’s the right thing to do. But knowing what I now know about just how valuable since-purged copy editors were in covering for columnists over the years, don’t be surprised if something whack from Whicker surfaces soon enough.