Media blogger Jim Romenesko attempted to find out what’s happened to Star TV critic Aaron Barnhart, and asked Star public editor Derek Donovan to explain Barnhart’s absence, and why the paper hasn’t mentioned anything to readers.
Donovan said that a newspaper is a public trust, and readers are interested in knowing about their favorite writers, but…
But a newspaper company is also a private business, with all the legal responsibilities to its workers that any other employer must follow. As long there hasn’t been a violation of journalistic ethics, the conditions of a journalist’s employment are a private matter. The employee may choose to divulge more, but the newspaper company can’t — and shouldn’t.
Barnhart, a cancer survivor, hasn’t written for The Star since January.
UPDATE: Romenesko reports friends tell him Barnhart’s absence is health-related.