LOCAL PAPER’S BUSINESS EDITOR ZICKOS FIRED DUE TO BUSINESS COMMUNITY COMPLAINTS
(PNN) -- The local newspaper’s Business Editor, Coco Zickos, was fired last week because, she was told, the business community was unhappy with her reporting and she was doing too many environmental articles.
According to Zickos on August 4 she was called to a meeting with Editor Nathan Eagle and Human Resources Director Tamra Wedemeyer where she was told by Eagle that she was “not a good fit anymore” and to gather her belongings and go.
However Zickos says that when Eagle left the room Wedemeyer essentially told her that it was “not personal but you've been doing a lot of environmental stuff but not involved enough in the business community and the business community is unhappy with your business reporting” although she could not recall the precise words used by Wedemeyer
She says Eagle told her it was not her writing or journalistic skills but her “performance” that was at issue, saying she was pushed to attend more chamber of commerce promoted events and didn’t always do so.
“It was a total shock” Zickos said in a telephone interview conducted yesterday afternoon. “There was no warning- nobody ever pulled me aside and said there were any problems.”
Although no one said so, Zickos said she suspects the firing was at the behest of Publisher Randy Kozerski.
Although in the past the paper’s business editors also covered the “environmental” beat Zickos says she was not originally hired to cover environmental issues but, since that was her passion, she asked and was given permission to cover the beat.
Some sources who asked not to be identified said that it might have been the content of her environmental coverage such as the series on bacterial counts at local beaches that upset tourism industry officials who would rather bad news that could effect visitor count be squelched.
This is not the first time the paper’s business editor has left the paper due to complaints over content that upset some in the business community. Editor Andy Gross quit after being told to stop covering Kaua`i Island Utilities Coop (KIUC) issues raised by co-op members by current Police and Courts Editor Paul Curtis who was weekend and assistant editor at the time.
Curtis was then let go by the Editor Adam Harju due to the incident but has returned to the paper under Eagle.
Before that Curtis was employed by KIUC founder Gregg Gardiner at The Kaua`i Times newspaper before it was bought out by TGI.
Zickos says she guesses that she angered some powerful people in the business community somehow although she didn’t venture a guess as to whom that might be.
Though she said she had no experience or training in journalism she said she “learned a lot” by working at the paper.
Pressed with the $64 question often raised by PNN as a reason why journalistic skills and experience are apparently given short shrift during hiring- especially given the number of experienced journalists out of work after the “merger” of the Honolulu newspapers- Zickos would only give her salary “range” of “between 12 and 15 dollars an hour”.
The paper has apparently not as yet hired a new business and/ or environmental editor and Zickos’ name has been purged on the staff page.
For the record Zickos did not initiate contact with PNN, we sought her out for this story.