LETTER- Closed doors evidence of nothing

"Tale of Woe: The Death of VQR's Kevin Morrissey" is compelling reading. It is also an example of journalistic malpractice.

The writer, Dave McNair, portrays Ted Genoways, the editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, as a tyrant who abused his position of trust at the University of Virginia and drove one of his subordinates to suicide. The story grudgingly allows that these claims may not be true while struggling to prove the opposite. Yet the evidence produced to support the claims against Genoways is strikingly thin. 

The story amounts to this: The unsubstantiated claims of a distraught sister whose brother, everyone agrees, was troubled long before the events that may or may not have led to his suicide. The opinion-mongering of a self-proclaimed expert on workplace bullying with no connection to the events described in the story. Questionable tales of closed-door meetings. Still more tales from the same sources, this time of raised voices, also behind closed doors (apparently closed doors give people in Charlottesville the willies). And most shocking of all, evidence that Genoways spent more money than his predecessor as editor of VQR. 

I have to give McNair credit for doing so much with so little, but writing down innuendo and rumor is not the same thing as reporting. Simply put, Ted Genoways has worked miracles with VQR. With limited resources, he has transformed the magazine into one of the most admired publications in the country. He deserves better from the UVA community-and especially from  his colleagues in journalism– than to have his reputation tarnished and his career threatened by hazy anecdotes and untamed speculation.

Sid Holt
Chief Executive, American Society of Magazine Editors