Fargo Forum Reporter Rips Management For Creating “Toxic” Environment In Kiss-Off Email

Fargo Forum's Ivory Tower

As anyone who reads this blog knows I was never a fan of former Fargo Forum reporter Kristen Daum. I think she’s representative of a lot of things that are wrong in journalism and, I’ll be honest, I was glad to hear it when she announced her departure from North Dakota not so long ago.

Political reporting in North Dakota is the better for it.

But it turns out Daum wasn’t so happy with her tenure at the Forum either. In a long and rambling email in which she expresses appreciation for several of her co-workers she turns her invective on Forum editor Matt Von Pinnon and publisher Bill Marcil Jr. accusing them of creating a “toxic” work environment.

The email was forwarded to me by a reporter friend. The full email is below.

he time has come for me to move on from The Forum, and it’s a moment I’ve honestly been longing for for some time now because of both professional and personal reasons.

Professionally, I’ve felt for a while that I’d hit a wall. While I was able to do a lot in my job, there were limitations that I just wasn’t satisfied with anymore. I want to achieve more, learn more and do more than what I can at The Forum – and I believe this opportunity in Michigan will afford me that, while also allowing me to focus on a single government beat. I always knew I wouldn’t be a lifer here, and I’d like to think no one realistically expected me to be. My professional dreams are far loftier than Fargo, so I always saw this as a stepping stone to something greater en route to my goal of covering politics in Washington, D.C.

My personal reasons for leaving are a lot more heartfelt and emotional.

I’ve just seen too many changes happen to the detriment of this newspaper; too many talented people go undervalued, overworked and driven out; and too many decisions made that put the bottom line ahead of The Forum’s journalistic integrity and quality. The collision of these factors has sadly left me without the respect I once had for some of the management here, and that truly disappoints me. I once loved The Forum and was proud to work here and represent this newspaper in the community. I haven’t felt that same passion or loyalty for some time now, and again, I’m disappointed.

It didn’t have to be this way, and if you’d asked me three years ago, I never thought it would come to this.

I’ve watched a lot of really talented people leave The Forum over the last three years: Kelly, Mila, Steve, Tammy, Rob, Ryan – just to name a few. They all left for opportunities outside The Forum’s walls, as I am. But I also know I’m not the only one who left because they simply weren’t happy working here anymore. Because I’m leaving, I guess I have the freedom to ask the question I know I’m not the only one wanting to ask:

Matt… Bill… When are you going to take notice of the amazing talent you continuously lose because of the unhappy – and downright toxic – environment you’ve established in this newsroom? You don’t seem to respect or value your staff. You don’t trust reporters to do their jobs despite their expertise. You overwork the strong ones, and let the weak get by on laziness and mediocrity. And you constantly take this newsroom’s collective talent for granted. I just hope you eventually realize all this so The Forum can once again be a truly fun and fulfilling place to work for your staff.

The email was sent on what I believe was Daum’s last day at 5:08pm and was addressed to the Forum editorial staff as well as several of the reporters.

There’s no details on what, specifically, is creating the “toxic” atmosphere at the Forum, but if Daum is to believed people are not happy there. If I had to speculate, I’d suggest that maybe Daum was getting some push back from management on her biased and, frankly, not-well-reported stories and she, being naive and immature and just working her first real job, lashed out on her way out the door.

Or maybe it’s just that the newspaper business is tough these days, and Daum (among others) doesn’t understand that without the “bottom line” the paper can’t exist. This is what the trend in national print/online newspaper advertising looks like:

But that’s just my speculation, and what do I know? I’m just some portly blogger.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Billy

    Self-absorbed much? “My professional dreams are far loftier than Fargo”

  • Roy_Bean
    • The Fighting Czech

      Excellent tune!!!! I actually bought it on a 45, when I was a kid, Theme song from Kellys Hero’s. also excellent movie!!!

  • awfulorv

    Shown a graphic like the above, the entire newsroom, and the press crew, had they a straw man’s brain, would be applying elsewhere, anywhere, even a rendering plant, on the morn. Craigslist cost the papers in the S.F. Bay area $16 million in advertising revenue two years ago. Couldn’t happen to more deserving Commies, if you ask me.

  • Conservative Soccer Mom

    Oh poor undervalued, overworked little girl – hope she didn’t let the door hit her on the way out! Kristen’s dreams may be far loftier than the Fargo Forum, but is her talent? Not too much evidence there…I propose a new required college class: Reality 101. Don’t leave school without it.

  • philgray

    Kristen Daum has more credibility then ROB-GADFLY
    See you soon ROB….shall we call it next debate….saw you there last time
    I will see you soon and we will speak about what your allowing.
    You dont think next time I talk to JAY I will not bring up your credibility?
    You think this helps your credibility allowing someone to besmeerch my real name and a sexually harassing blog form..
    Check century code bright one….Can you smell what the Rock is cooking on this…bet you cant

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I wasnt at the last debate you lunatic.

      • philgray

        Lunatic….you have seen nothing yet…..you make personal insults…..exactly why am I a lunatic, because I am passionate?
        I missed last debate so kudos on that….but Jamer was there….I got that wrong…
        Lunatic now….
        My my…..
        Sorry about my mistake….I will take better care to be accurate….
        I am sure I will see you again…..
        Call me a lunatic….You honestly think this will help you….
        You think I am going to back down?
        I will watch for you forever in North Dakota Politics anywhere and anytime I have opportunity…
        You stopped other comments from bogus names to post in past
        Guess the faggot football player lying his ass off and making out for a whole game with his 65 year old lover in the pressbox and getting kicked off team sent you?
        I know one fricking thing….I will see you again over the next 30 years in this area…..I will not allow you to besmeerch my name and EVER forget it

        • borborygmi

          You are a lunatic and stupid. Those words could definitely be taken as a threat, now they are a permanent record. Time to get back on what ever drug you are taking to calm you down for post traumatic stress.

        • InTheKnow

          WOW! Threaten people much?

          • Captornado

            PhilI’MOFFMYMEDSgray just went full retard!

        • sbark

          gotta relax some here, passion is great, but channel it, gotta let it out in small doses….
          If we all agreed on every issue Rob would be the only one needed on this blog, sure he’s dead wrong on issues, but we do have free speech……..
          Nice thing about free speech …..we dont have to listen to it, at least not yet….but let Obama get re-elected then…..

        • Thresherman

          Wow. Sort of like listening to a drunk at closing time.

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    This outfit is counting on a government subsidy to stay alive.

  • philgray

    Kristen Daum, at least she has the character to post with her REAL name
    Blogsites like this allow money to be made besmeerching people with real names…
    ROB-GADFLY allow people to post with alias names like philgay and think REAL people will not take offense..
    REALLY ROB?
    I do not like her bias…..but she has more credibility then a blogsite allowing people’s real names to be besmeerched..
    Rob in the past stopped this…but since the faggot wanting attention at NDSCS and his tolerance to a lying punk kid making out in a pressbox for a whole game, he says its fair game..
    Jeez….ROB_GADFLY
    You should start reporting to that rag that I would not give the name too..
    ROB….you want credibility….allow real names to be posted with blogs….
    until then….you have NO HONOR….

    • borborygmi

      Still wondering if you are going to put those Bison season tickets up for sale?

  • HideFromObama

    Looks to me like she broke rule 1 for leaving a job: Don’t burn your bridges! She’ll never work for the Forum again-maybe she doesn’t want to be she may need them sometime down the road and they will tell her to screw off. Idiot

    • The Fighting Czech

      Lets not forget its on the internet for all future employers, (who might not think to highly of this childish tactic) to see, It could bite her in the kester, over and over again…

  • http://www.themarketingsurvivalist.blogspot.com melissapaulik

    I had little respect for her before, even less now. It does sound like someone naive enough to think their ten minutes of experience equates to someone else’s decades of living in the trenches. Judging from her reporting, I’m also guessing they weren’t letting her be biased enough. Hopefully, MI will see through her method of “reporting” soon enough.

    That said, I’m still not renewing my subscription to that liberal rag masquerading as a newspaper. When one of them leaves, there are far too many wainting in the wings to fill her shoes.

  • VocalYokel

    Everybody sing along !

    ‘Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…’

  • Nellie

    do you suppose she would have gotten the job in the first place if during the interview she would have told the interviewer…”oh by the way..i’ll be useing this job as mearley a stepping stone to something better”……

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