April 13, 2007

Twin City Tussle

When a metropolitan area has more than one decent-size daily newspaper, the competition can be fun to watch. The publishers will do everything from juggle the comic-strip lineup to conduct give-aways for subscriptions in order to beat each other. Sometimes it gets uglier than that, and lawyers get to make as much money as the publishers. The two Twin Cities newspapers will make a few more lawyers rich with a new lawsuit after the Star-Tribune supposedly enticed former Pioneer Press executives to break a non-compete contract and share proprietary information:

The St. Paul Pioneer Press sued the Star Tribune on Thursday, claiming that Par Ridder, the newspaper's new publisher, violated an employment agreement with the Pioneer Press. The suit asks that he be removed and barred from working for the Star Tribune for at least a year. ...

The civil lawsuit accuses Ridder and two executives he recruited from the Pioneer Press in recent weeks of sharing confidential budget and advertising information with their new colleagues.

The lawsuit, which asks the court to prevent the Star Tribune from using that information, calls the consequences of the alleged theft "both devastating and irreparable" for the Pioneer Press.

What happened? On March 7, two days after the Strib hired Ridder, he e-mailed confidential spreadsheets containing advertiser and subscriber information, according to the Pioneer Press. When the smaller newspaper confronted Ridder about it, they claim that Ridder told them he just wanted to show the Strib the format of the files, which he wanted to use in his new job.

They also let Ridder keep his laptop for a short period after his departure. According to the lawsuit, the Pioneer Press hired a computer expert to examine the laptop when they got it back, and he determined that the information on it had been copied to another computer. Now the Pioneer Press wants access to all of the Strib's computers to determine what use their bigger competitor has made of the PP's proprietary info. They also claim that they have a version of a speech he wrote on the laptop in a password-protected document that shows that the Strib had arranged Ridder's move in secret six months before -- and that Ridder stuck around that long to glean as much information as he could before he split for greener pastures.

The Strib claims innocence. They claim that Ridder, whose great-grandfather owned the Pioneer Press, did not steal any information from the newspaper. Ridder also defends himself against accusations that he broke his pledge not to entice PP executives to follow him, saying that the agreement only covered the day he left. The former publisher denied that he had offered Ridder his job in September or had any conversations with him about leaving the Pioneer Press during the upheaval of the Strib's sale.

So whom should we believe? I have to believe that the Pioneer Press has some basis for its lawsuit; it can't afford to waste a lot of money on legal fees, and the Ridder assertion that an agreement to refrain from stealing executives only covered a single day is pretty laughable. They're already operating from a credibility gap, and the PP included a copy of the speech notes in the lawsuit.

If nothing else, it beats the telemarketing calls we would be getting in a normal subscription war. All we can do at this point is buy plenty of popcorn and enjoy the show.


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Comments (2)

Posted by Stefania [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 6:26 AM

Regarding your post on the ransom paid by the Italian government, your point was well-taken. As one of the few Italians disgusted at the behavior of the Italian governments (let's not forget that it's almost 50 years that the govts here appease terrorists), I agree with the whole post and add that I support US soldier Mario Lozano.

Also, pls remember that Emergency is not a 'charity' organization: the Afghan secret services recently accused them with having ties to the Taliban and even Al-Qaeda there. Also, Emergency is a communist-stalinist organization, whose leader Gino Strada often compares Bush to Bin Laden and even considers the former worst than the latter.

Rahmatullah Hanefi, one of the collaborators of Emergency, said to have "helped" in the deal with the Taliban to release Mastrogiacomo, is now detained in an Afghan prison for being a Taliban himself and even involved in the kidnapping.
Nevertheless, the Italian government is calling for his release in the very same way it has defended the terrorist Abu Omar.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 8:55 PM

Company loses employee. Employee goes elsewhere. Old company jumps up and down. Screaming about having old employee STOLEN.

Can't still humans. Slavery's NOW against the law.

And, the supreme-O's already responded to those lawsuits that try to stop ex-employees from working in new places.

HERE. Where's the "chain of custody?"

Old employee turns over his laptop.

Some computer engineer "tampers with it." And, makes claims.

Then, the reach.

The STRIB gets all of its propriety information RAPED away; because lawyers come charging forward.

FIRST. I hope the lawyer working for the "Pioneers" is working on a contingency basis. Only if he wins does he get 50%. Otherwise? He comes up empty.

Throwing good money after bad, where lawyers are concerned, is a fool's game.

And, ya know what else? To be accused of the thievery, when the old employer NEVER HAD TO TAKE OUT A POLICE REPORT on your "thefts." In other words you didn't even take home paper clips?

Well, for every law suit, there's a reaction.

And, this one smells bad.

Yeah. SOmetimes doctors, for instance, leave one practice. And, they don't take their patients with them. BUT DOCTORS KNOW TO BE CAREFUL.

I've heard of stories where prior practices tried to keep doctors out of hospitals. And, they can't.

In other words? We really do live in a free country.

That the man who "took" the spreadsheet also designed it? Where's the theft? Everything you see on paper, happens, first, inside a person's head.

Sure looks like they lost a key employee, though.

But if you hear more, please share it. Knowing outcomes ahead would be nice.