July 13, 2009

Humiliation or proof positive that a newspaper went crazy?

waving hand

What a first week back for the Grand Rapids Press sports columnist suspended in February after drug charges followed police getting 71 marijuana plants and 32 ounces of pot in canning jars from his home.

David Mayo, who started at the Press in 1985, now knows what it feels like to be the subject of the press as his story has been told on radio, TV, in print and online. I wonder how that will influence his future reporting. With luck, he'll be more sensitive. Says one Grand Rapids reader:
"It's so hard to not be judgmental and not make nasty comments about someone who repeatedly was judgmental and made nasty comments about people and teams."

Mayo covered collegiate and professional sports, including the World Series, Super Bowl, and boxing, including the career of Floyd Mayweather.

His July 5 page one column in the Press ' I've come out the other side' after marijuana conviction drew reactions near and far.

Mayo also went on several radio shows, John Gonzalez tells us.

The Grand Rapids Press gave the community a chance to react in print with letters to the editor that included both praise and criticism:

Taken from the Mayos
It was pro and con in the world of bloggers and online commenters:

Eric B. on Michigan Liberal criticizes the required public humiliation.
"... after five decades of doing this kind of thing I think it's probably pretty clear that these things never serve any purpose beyond permanently labeling the author as an addict. I mean, you'd have to be an idiot to think that any self-respecting teenager is going to read about the legal travails of a middle-aged sports writer and turn down pot."

No need to write

An unnecessary column was the viewpoint of Improved Clinch's Self Flagellation at the Point of a Gun:

"Mayo’s self flagellating mea culpa is the culmination of the injustice inflicted by the State, and it all started with the State’s questionable procuring of purchase invoices for hydroponic growing equipment, which sets a precedence for the State to obtain records of your individual purchases, whether those purchases are benign or not."

Others suggest that Mayo needs to watch what he writes, including the blog Chicken Scratch in "Bong Smoke Clouds Judgement of Grand Rapids Press:"
"I sure as hell don’t want to see any more stories in the press talking ill of those who smoke marijuana because your lead sports guy is a pot head."
There were some who don't want Mayo near student athletes.

Precious newsroom jobs

That the sports journalist is coming back to a newspaper job when so many have lost newsroom jobs has Chicken Scratch and others raising questions. Some familiar with the once-strong Advance Publications' job pledge and no-tolerance drug policy question what the hiring means..

The Daily Derelict calls the return "proof even heavy drug users (dealers) can work for Booth Newspapers for life." He repeats a few stories he's been told before concluding (incorrectly, in my opinion):
"You basically have to be CONVICTED of murdering or raping someone to get fired in Booth Newspapers."
I never understood you had a job for life no matter what. Some folks were let go over the years, or, as said over on Free From Editors, "I've known other employees who have lost jobs at Booth for far less transgressions than this.")

Lingering questions

There are questions - could this be a case of using the marijuana to ease the pain of a medical condition, hinted at when a
TV station's report on his rejection of a plea agreement included this quote:
"My wife's debilitating illness, that's been the hardest part to watch her. That's been the hardest part of this whole deal."
The illnesses came up again when a TV station reported that a defense fund had been set up. The station quoted Mayo saying the loss of his salary from The Press, and the fact his wife has a number of medical conditions, has made their life extremely difficult.

The defense fund is administered by Jeff Calhoun, general manager of the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball team (2003-07), an executive with the former Grand Rapids Hoops (1989-2003) and now an insurance agent (He also was named a potential character witness). Contributions can be sent to Jeff Calhoun, Attn: Defense fund, 6719 Rubina Way, Lansing, Mich. 48917

Those other jobs

It's been widely reported that the Kirby, Ark., native also worked as a regular correspondent for The Ring magazine and its sister publications. But no articles are up there for 2009.

He also resigned less the a month after being elected as vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

I looked, but couldn't find any bylines on mlive.com. I did see that Mayweather is facing some IRS troubles and been in the news for some other things. That must be hard for Mayo not to cover after all these years.