Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Frank Girardot Checks Out of the Pasadena Star News

Doo Dah Parade Thorny Rose Awarded Frank Girardot
Yesterday was Frank Girardot's last day at the Pasadena Star News. A pretty big loss for local journalism in my opinion. Ask anyone who remembers what the Star News was like before Frank started running that paper.

Frank took what was a daily newspaper with the unhappy reputation for being an overly cautious establishment doormat, and turned it into something that resembled an actual functioning journalistic enterprise. Winning back a lot of lost respect for that publication in the process.

A notable chunk of the recent history in our little slice of paradise was filtered through a newsroom run by this guy, and I think it can be safely said that this changed certain situations in some significant ways. If you have doubts about what I am saying, take a look at the ignominious political demise of Sierra Madre's Civility Party. The repercussions of which are still being felt today as this city enters a particularly crucial period in its history. It was the harsh bright lights of properly executed journalism that helped to bring down what had been this community's most dominant political force (link).

Here is how Frank Girardot announced the next phase of his career arc late yesterday on the Pasadena Politics site:

Yes today was my last at SGVN. There are a lot of great people working there. I will miss them all. There are a lot of ghosts in that building that I'll miss too. So what's next?

I have the good fortune of entering into a partnership with Kin Hui and Singpoli Group. I'll be heading up Pegasus Media and focused on corporate and government public relations. Home office will be in Arcadia

In case you wondered about the writing, I've got three books in the pipeline, working with author Burl Barer, Investigation Discovery Channel and author Peter Houlahan on those. Thank you for the warm wishes and fantastic sendoff. See you all soon. --fig

As of this typing there has been nothing mentioned about Frank's departure in any pages of the Pasadena Star News, which I find to be awkward. Perhaps there will be something soon. Whatever the case, they did get scooped on their own story by an on-line news site called Pasadena Now. Follow this (link) if you care to read the entire thing.

Frank C. Girardot, Editor of the Pasadena Star-News and the Senior Metro Editor of the San Gabriel Valley News Group, said he is leaving the organizations on June 1.

“Yes it’s true. I’m leaving the Star-News and SGVN on Monday,” Girardot wrote on his Facebook page on Friday. “It’s been fun. I’ll miss my friends. I’ll miss journalism. Adios.”

After saying he has “an amazing partnership opportunity” that he’ll reveal after his last day working at the Star-News — which is Monday, June 1 – Girardot indicated he will be staying in the San Gabriel Valley.

Girardot was named editor of the Pasadena Star-News in April, 2010. Prior to that, he was the Metro Editor of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group and managed 20 reporters working from three locations in Eastern Los Angeles County.

Girardot’s Facebook posting drew dozens of comments filled with compliments and messages lamenting his leaving the local daily.

“Big loss. You changed the culture at that paper, Frank,” wrote Eric Maundry. “It stopped trying to simply please the local establishment and began reporting real news.”

Back in April of 2012 Frank Girardot wrote an article for The Tattler called "How the Pasadena Star News Does Its City Council Candidate Endorsements." To date it is the #8 all time most read post on this blog.

The paper had been taking a lot of heat here for its election editorial endorsements. Frank wanted to air the issue out a little bit, and in the very place where a lot of that criticism had originated. Here is what he wrote:

Perhaps the most mysterious thing about newspapers is how we choose who to endorse in an election. There are those among you who believe big developers and advertisers tell us what to do. I know too there are some who believe that we are just a mouthpiece for the establishment - be it the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, SCAG, SGVCOG, AQMD, whatever. None of that is true.

We're just a bunch of people who happen to work at a newspaper and have diverse ideas about how we believe government should function and who should be elected to office. While some of us are OK with penniless gadflies, others believe its fine to choose a monied carpet-bagger. At the end of the day we pick who we pick - just as you might when you step behind the curtain in a polling booth - because of our beliefs.

The endorsement process is sausage making at its best and worst. In fact I'll be the first one to tell you that most candidates believe that a newspaper endorsement is the kiss of death to a political campaign. And it might be.

Here's what happens: First of all we invite candidates to speak to us in a roundtable forum. We encourage all the candidates to show up at the same time. We ask each to give a brief introduction of themselves, describe their platform and then yield the floor so their opponents have the opportunity to share as well. There's the arguments and the candidates who talk too long about their ideas. But we're flexible and we allow for that. Usually we impose no time limit on the meetings, although we like them to last an hour. We also invite the candidates to bring their campaign literature so that we can see what they are telling the voters.

I knew a guy who worked in a newspaper office who saved every flier he ever got. They are fun to read, especially when you realize there's basically three standard colors - red, white and blue; and two ways to approach voters. Your choices usually come down to "stick with the plan that got us here," or "throw this crowd out, they suck."

Five minutes into an endorsement meeting one can pretty much figure out who is with who and who is against who. Ultimately, these meetings become discussions of the issues. Sometimes they get heated. I've seen shouting matches, I've seen measured exchanges. I've seen super-smart people, dummies, slick attorneys, retirees, crooks, tools, and good people seeking to make a difference in their community participate in our editorial boards.

At the end of the day we're looking for substance over style, but how one acts in the pressure of an editorial board meeting can determine whether or not he or she will get the newspaper's support.

Sierra Madre candidates invited to the Star News this week had plenty to say about the UUT, development, the size of the city's budget hole, open government, the EVG thefts and the Sierra Madre Tattler blog. And if you read this blog enough of followed the candidate forums, you probably have a good idea of who said what.

All the candidates showed up except The Eagle. Which is actually fine, because he's more of a Shakespearian fool than actual candidate.

And at the end of the nearly two-hour session we were left with tough choices. Just as you will face tough choices when you vote. I can say I thought all of your candidates would individually or collectively make a damn good City Council, whether or not you agree with them. And, taking that a step further, I would argue that the group comprises one of the best collection of candidates for office in any city in the San Gabriel Valley.

But still this is a contentious election. You've got some tough choices to make in Sierra Madre and there's not a lot of wiggle room for error. In our offices we haven't picked who to endorse. And I must say I haven't really made up my mind on that.

Thanks to the questions provided by the mostly anonymous readers of the Sierra Madre Tattler, I can say I went into the meeting a hardcore opponent of any utility tax extension or increase. I can say also that I left with a more nuanced view of the problems the city faces.

Regardless there are two or three substantial items that occurred that will color my decision making when the time comes. I'll share that with Mr. Crawford after we make our endorsement.

Anyway, thanks for allowing me to share some insider stuff with you all.

Frank Girardot
Editor
Pasadena Star News

Frank Girardot's contributions to the local conversation will be missed. In case you are wondering what his reasons for leaving were, he left in part for an opportunity that pays better. Which today means something outside of journalism. Like many of us, he has personal responsibilities that need to be met. You do what you need to do.

Sad to say, truth telling doesn't often come with those kinds of rewards anymore.

That raises a couple of questions, at least for me. Why is it so few people care about daily in the streets journalism any longer? Where will we find ourselves when there are even fewer full-time reporters around to ask inconvenient questions and keep disingenuous politicians and tax-bloated bureaucrats looking nervously over their shoulders?

Who will be there taking the side of the people? Not as many, I guess.

Here is an example of the possible consequences of de-evolutionary and unfiltered information flow. A lot of people in Sierra Madre believe that voting for a utility tax increase next April is necessary to save this community's 4th of July Parade. And that there is no other way reconfigure the city's budgetary shortfall. Perhaps you are one of those.

I'm not sure that 20 years ago, when everyone read newspapers and hard journalism was still a mighty force in this world, few would have been left unsophisticated enough to believe something like that.

Obviously times have changed.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com // Photo courtesy of Terry Miller

39 comments:

  1. Does this mean we're back under the thumb of Larry Wilson?

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    Replies
    1. Larry Wilson continues to be a big supporter of the Civility Party.

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    2. Face it, the average citizen only wants two things from its politicians. They want to be told they're very nice, and that someday they could be given an award for caring a lot. Throw in an occasional pat on their noggins and you'll be able to lie and steal to your heart's content.

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  2. I quite like looking through a post that can make men and women think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment! Feel free to visit my site ... stores to carry justin bieber dolls.

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  3. Overall, Frank was pretty good. Let's hope they get somebody equally good to run the hardhitting stories that expose corruption and hypocracy in politics and elsewhere.

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    Replies
    1. Not gonna happen. Wait for more Star-News stories about how smart the PUSD Board is, and how it's "unavoidable" that Sierra Madre Middle School will be delayed.

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    2. I hear the Middle School delays are because of all the rain we've been having.

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    3. On a building that's already wrapped and roofed? Sure.

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    4. Mud slides. Must be mud slides.

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  4. The civility party was anything but civil. But they did like to party.

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  5. I want to buy a vowelJune 2, 2015 at 6:48 AM

    Mr. Moderator,
    Can you please help me?

    I'm having trouble remembering if Frank Girardot was the one who caught former Mayor Josh Moran in The Big Lie - that Moran didn't know convicted Child Porn Possessor Bob Matheson?

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    Replies
    1. Brian Charles wrote it, but Frank edited and published it. I posted a link to that article above.

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    2. Fair-haired local wunderkind Josh Moran lied? Tell me it isn't so!!

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    3. http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2013/12/can-you-believe-anything-josh-moran.html

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    4. Josh Moran lied!!!!!!

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  6. I have the feeling the Civility Party may be rearing its ugly head again in April, when we have to vote on two City Council seats.

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    Replies
    1. The Civvies are working very hard to get people out to the Budget Town Hall Meeting this Saturday. They've been telling the dumb bunnies that if utility taxes aren't raised the Kensington might have to close.

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    2. Everyone needs to show up a the town hall meeting, even if the Downtown Dirts are all over the place. Go to the gathering, and give your opinion. Don't forget. our council is no longer dominated by a CivilDirt majority, but they can't act without the residents' voices.

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    3. They haven't gone anywhere. Who do you think sponsored Gene Goss?

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    4. Whose emails do you think John Harabedian answers?

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    5. Gene would answer more of his emails but he gets so many it is hard to keep up.

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    6. won't it be hilarious is crybaby Noah Green insists on running again

      it won't be funny though if like Goss he gets elected

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  7. Hey Mod, I hope your columns in the Star News are still happening. If I remember correctly, Larry Wilson ain't a fan.

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    Replies
    1. Larry Wilson is a Sustaining member of the Civility Party. Got the membership card in his wallet.

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  8. I had begun to think of Frank as an ally, a man of critical thinking, and if he didn't always agree with me at least he'd reasoned his posture. However, that being said, I wish him well and hope that he continues to read and contribute to The Tattler! Bon voyage, Frank.

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  9. I'm sorry to see Giradot go. He really did bring back some of the Star News' credibility.

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  10. Kin Hui and Singpoli Group?

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    Replies
    1. Real Estate.

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    2. That's good. If it was development I would be sad.

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    3. Didn't Singpoli develop the Constance Hotel (Colorado Blvd near Lake) from a low income senior facility to a lovely boutique hotel?

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    4. Didn't Singpoli develop the Constance Hotel (Colorado Blvd near Lake) from a low income, senior residence facility into a lovely boutique hotel?

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    5. ..... and throw out the seniors without any relocation benefits?

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    6. It's Pasadena. Talk about how much you care, shove 'em down the backdoor stair.

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  11. the Star-News rarely prints anything about Sierra Madre's state of the city and the budget or water problems. A friend asked me what the Town Hall was all about. When I explained to her she said, I haven't read a thing about it in the Star-News." None of their stories about drought mentions Sierra Madre's plight. We seem to be the lost City as far as the Pasadena paper is concerned.

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  12. Awkward though you may find it, most newspapers do not report staff departures, believing that they create a negative impression that might lose readers. They tend to prefer a seamless transition, unless they can boast a big-name recruit. All we can hope for is someone half as good as Frank..

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