Chaos at the Argus? Rumors are afoot tonight.

There are a lot of rumors swirling about what’s happening in Argus Leader.

Rumors of firing, unhappy people and general malaise over the direction that South Dakota’s largest daily newspaper has taken.  Take it all with a grain of salt, and consider it at rumor status, but it might be worth watching and reading.

What am I hearing?

The rumors are flying that News Director Patrick Lalley may have fired a sports writer over a turf fight. I’m also hearing that the rumor mill swirling around that portion of the 4th Estate is (allegedly) that Lalley may also be battling Stu Whitney who had jumped into political stories with vigor, but suddenly stopped writing about politics. Supposedly, at Lalley’s demand.

This could be the continuation of an alleged turf war that had been spoken about in hushed tones when it broke out earlier, swirling around a mysterious disappearing Stu Whitney story about John Thune that appeared on-line for a day, and then disappeared at the same time the SuFuStu video program went on permanent hiatus.

The Thune story is gone – I skimmed it briefly about the time it went up, but when I went to go back to it – it had been taken off-line.  Not exactly a smoking gun, but when tied to the rumors on it….  the Whitney/Lalley conflict is worth monitoring, and revisiting another day.

There’s also said to be rising tension in the Argus Newsroom over Dana Ferguson and her coming off as a bit of a Weiland mouthpiece in her stories, such as the pro-Weiland ballot measure story that coincidentally was placed on-line tonight with her byline.  That’s the rumor, but I’m getting this second hand, so take it as presented – a rumor.

What’s supposedly driving this conflict and unhappiness? Have you read the Argus lately?

The Sunday edition is basically what was online during the week, plus USA Today, wrapped around an even bigger pile of Sunday circulars. The only time you’d ever have seen that was on Thanksgiving. Now, it’s a weekly occurrence.  And I’m not the only one noticing it. I’m hearing there are complaints from readers about complete lack of content in the papers.

If you watch the on-line shows, you’ll note the viewer counter which consistently hovered in the 20’s has been gone for a while. Why? I’m hearing part of the unhappiness is that online shows such as 100 Eyes on politics consistently get about 20 viewers. When the majority of the comments come from South DaCola, Larry Kurtz rambling about pot, and a few other consistent characters, most choose to turn it off and work at their desks.

While employment issues are typically kept quiet until someone’s byline stops appearing, some of the rest of it such as viewership, the amazing shrinking newspaper and other facets of this continue to be held underneath the “Argus Cone of Silence,” with little more than rumors escaping out to the real world for us to evaluate, as we try to divine simple truth from wild rumor.

So, that’s what I’m hearing through the grapevine that winds it’s way through and out of the local Gannett newspaper tonight.  A collection of rumors that you can judge for yourself.

Might be best to judge as you flip through the Sunday circulars. There’s a lot of original content there. Plus coupons.

46 Replies to “Chaos at the Argus? Rumors are afoot tonight.”

  1. Springer

    We gave it up years ago because of biased reporting and don’t miss it one iota. If I want to read it, I can visit our local Subway or DQ and read it for free. That’s about all it’s worth!

  2. Jim

    My friend Dave Nicholson got let go at the Argus. He was always fair to me and my team. Everyone says that Lalley is at the center of all these problems.

  3. Anonymous

    There’s nothing to read in the Argus but stories about biking and that’s the problem. Dana Ferguson is also a huge liberal Bernie Sanders lover. All she does is run stories that Suzy Pranger gives her.

    1. Anonymous

      I like Dana. She seems fair. To be honest the SDDP sends a lot more press releases than the SDGOP. Why? I don’t know but it’s true. I don’t see them making the war college very often if they are sending a ton of press releases to match the SDDP.

        1. Anonymous

          Well that might mean less GOP stuff in a newspaper if they aren’t sending press releases. They should at least send one a month.

    2. Anonymous

      Face it, the GOP in South Dakota is terrible at media relations. This has nothing to do with Dana’s lack of objectivity and everything to do with SDGOP not knowing how to be proactive – or even reactive for that matter – about press relations. This has nothing to do with SDGOP having statewide office holders who send their own press releases and everything to do with a majority party that is far too silent in this state. If you want to see increased coverage of the SDGOP then encourage the SDGOP to do something to get coverage. Anything.*

      *The exception being using hateful language to describe constituents, no matter how small the group, or being an elected official acting like a child on international television.

      1. Anonymous

        The SD GOP is almost non existent. The GOP has almost every office and yet it is almost non existent.

  4. The Mystery Mule

    They should fire Ferguson and hire back Nicholson. At least the sports stuff is good. If I want Ferguson’s view I’ll just turn on Rachel Maddow.

    1. Anonymous

      I’d be ok with Ellis and Lalley going but Fergusen is pretty good at putting out political information like Montgomery was. She comes to Pierre for session and works hard.

      Ellis doesn’t do anything but complain.

  5. Former Argus Worker

    Lalley is a horrible boss and greatly disrespected at Argus for it being all about him. His day is coming

      1. Anonymous

        If you want liberal dribble than yes bring back Jack Marsh. He’d really turn the paper from the Argus Leader to the Arguing for Liberals.

  6. Peter

    Yeah, you’re right. The Stu show just disappeared a month ago. Was weak anyway.

    Lalley takes seminars in Des Moines on firing people. Ask around the empty newsroom.

  7. RFP

    Wait til you see tomorrow’s paper. Liberal Stu pushing Weiland’s ballot measures in a very political column. I guess Lalley’s ban on Stu writing on politics is over. I can’t wait to get out of this place.

    1. Anonymous

      I’m confused on the Lalley and Whitney fued. Whitney is either good or self righteous and terrible. To lump Fergusen in with him is wrong she puts out a lot of good content. Lalley needs to go bye bye.

  8. Anonymous

    That paper rarely takes this mayor to task for anything. The Business Journal is good the rest other than Jonaton Ellis is not. Stu Wittney should have been fired years ago. Complete as-.

  9. Fawn

    When you’re a sport writer people expect you’ll write stories that support the home team. But when you write about the social issues of the day, people expect balance. The Argus writers are so very slanted to the left they lose all credibility. Of course the organization is crumbling. Without credibility, no news organization can survive.

  10. Gone Girl

    I worked at the argus. It’s a toxic place. Patrick is a dick and he likes bossing around the millennials and seeming important. Patrick sets the liberal tone. If you are not a liberal you get made fun of. Canceling the paper is a good decision.

  11. A Blinken

    The Argus does seem to have become much worse and more liberal under Lalley. Probably because he’s a bad manager and ultra liberal.

  12. Anonymous

    Like the Wall Street Journal, the Business Journal has good information. People in business depend on good information without spin to make the best decisions. They aren’t served by reading fantasy news.

    Think about it: the Mayor wants the most expensive building in Sioux Falls for an office and there isn’t a nary of coverage on its need, alternatives, nada. But we can have story after story about a hot button issue which will be forgotten in a month.

    1. Troy Jones

      This post is from me. I posted at home and I thought I was logged in. Just noticed it.

  13. JW

    Just so you know the link to this post has been shared among several former Argus employees who were either fired, pressured to quit, or just gave up. Maybe some of them are commenting here. It’s not a good scene at the Argus. Patrick Lalley is indeed a bad manager. We’re all surprised he was chosen. He’s not the only problem however. It’s going to end badly.

  14. Anonymous

    Newspapers around the country have made the worst decisions ever as the fight for continued publication and relevance. They’ve actively gotten rid of talent. It would have been much better to enact a paywall and reduce printing to a few times a week. Let’s face it, none of us actually read the physical paper. They should have fired printers and distributors and retained talent. People want content; good content. News organizations suffer when the people producing content are let go in favor of keeping an outdated mode of transmission operating.

    1. mhs

      Dead-on comment. They acted like selling printed paper was their business, not intellectual property. Keep the cheap hourly employees and dump the professional staff.

  15. Annoyed

    A Blinken….why don’t you find an original name rather than stealing one. Lalley knows that person and you aren’t him.

  16. Feasant

    Do you suppose they might figure out that people in general want the news. We can then put our own slant to it.

    The big papers like to pump liberal ideas on us. I do have to say the Aberdeen News has improved a lot on their bias.

  17. JW

    I can tell you that the firing of talent at the Argus was perverse. Lalley was behind it. He should come clean about the decisions he has made.

  18. Troy Jones

    Some anonymous poster in response to my post about the lack of coverage on the City Administrative Building posted a response that listed Argus coverage. Because they included links, Pat’s blog software doesn’t allow so many links (protection against spam). Assuming it is exhaustive, the Argus has printed:

    Four Blog Entries (these are only read by few and hard to find)

    One Editorial/Opinion piece (I’m more interested in the facts so I can make up my own mind.

    11 News Stories over the last six months.

    What is not in any of the new stories is basic reporting information:

    1) Basic rationale for the building: Number of employees it will hold, where those employees are, the services to be located there, and how much will be saved in rent by terminating the leases where they are at and justification for the square footage.

    2) What are the components in this building which make it the MOST expensive office building on a square basis?

    3) A side-by-side comparison of this building vs. alternatives (300 Building purchase & renovation, renting the 300 building, staying where the employees are) from a cost standpoint and attributes of the buildings.

    4) Reporting on the process and analysis of the rationale of performed by the City to determine this is better than the alternatives.

    5) Reporting on why we have to issue the bonds for a new building (which basically forces us to build the building) before all of the above have been fleshed out for both the Council and the public.

    Instead, nearly ALL of the coverage in these articles centers on the political intrigue between the Mayor and the past Council, Mayor and the current council, and the recent effort to take the issue to a vote of the people.

    In short, the “reporting” is petty and shallow and does absolutely nothing to inform the public on the details.

    1. Mr. Neiloh

      Mr. Jones. You are absolutely correct on your points on the City Administrative Building. As usual a great blog post.

    2. Cliff Hadley

      Good comment, Mr. Jones.

      In short, getting the facts wrong happens and be corrected, but lack of curiosity is unforgivable.

  19. The Guy from Guernsey

    After each in the series of blood-lettings at the Argus Leader, I am always left astonished as to the ‘survivors’. And they don’t merely survive, they are promoted (e.g. Lalley, Stu, Cory “I never eat a meal at home and get to blog about it on Al Media” Myers).

    Does Bill Albrecht have the balls to fix this mess ? Or will he simply re-emerge at Thanksgiving to prattle on about the benefactor of this year’s edition of the Lend-a-Hand project ?

  20. The Guy from Guernsey

    And actions to cut a HS sports staff member after the wonderful state-wide HS sports recognition banquet which was arranged by AL Media? Where are the priorities ?

  21. Anonymous

    Two photographers that were both there for more than a decade have quit in the past two months. Both left without back-up jobs.