Thursday, August 26, 2010

Update To 2009 Story: World President's Application For Expensive Country Club Membership Approved 18 Months Later

[Note: This story first appeared on January 11th, 2009. A list of new Southern Hills Country Club members as of June 30th, 2010, lists John R. Bair as a new member.]

While executives at the Tulsa World were deciding which 28 employees would be fired in a cost-saving move to help the company deal with reduced advertising revenue, the president of the company, John R. Bair, was being processed for a $90,000 "proprietary membership" in the ritzy Southern Hills Country Club.

A list of those proposed for membership in the exclusive club was obtained by The McCarville Report Online following the newspaper's announcement that 26 newsroom employees and two other staff members were being fired immediately a week ago. Bair's is the first name listed on the December 29th document, prepared by the 650-member club's office on behalf of its board of governors.

The $90,000 figure for a proprietary membership in the club is an estimate; no one would discuss the precise fee, which apparently includes state sales tax.

Word of Bair's expensive membership has reached at least one of the fired reporters, a longtime, well-known World employee, and apparently also has reached several present news staffers.

One of the fired reporters said it doesn't matter to him if Bair is paying the fee personally, or if the company is paying it for him: "It just doesn't look very good, does it?" he asked.

Bair, World president since 2007, is no stranger to controversy. In 2005, then the company vice president, Bair began an attempt to prevent Michael Bates at in Tulsa from reproducing, quoting, or linking to articles in the World. That created a blogger firestorm that raged for almost a year and prompted an attorney for the Media Bloggers Association to return fire and resulted in a number of national media news articles about the First Amendment and the blogosphere.

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