Pranay Gupte announced today that he would no longer be writing his "Lunch at the Four Seasons" column for the Sun; his official reasoning was that he could no long work for free and the paper was unable to pay him, but we received an email in which Gupte referred to "digusting notes" being sent to him.
We've now been provided with said "disgusting notes," which amounts to a lengthy email thread offering some insight into Gupte's relationship with management. In it, Gupte tangles with editor Seth Lipsky, VP and GM Augie Fields and communications chief Maggie Shnayerson over the paper's participation in events, who Gupte is and is not allowed to contact, and finally whether or not Gupte registered the entire Sun staff for a spam mail list disguised as an online dating site.
It's long and strange, but worth it — if only for the use of "gasbag." Petty internal strife after the jump.
From: Pranay Gupte
Sent: Wednesday, July 12, 2006 11:05 AM
To: Maggie Shnayerson
Cc: Seth Lipsky; August Fields
Subject: re: My earlier e-mails
I haven't heard back from you about the suggestions I'd made concerning two upcoming events (this evening and later this week) where it would be very good to have the Sun displayed.
I'm sure that you are busy. But these are good marketing and PR opportunities for the paper, and perhaps something might still be done.
On 7/12/06, August Fields wrote:
Maggie was out of the office yesterday and, therefore, couldn't respond. A one day turnaround is tough for a one-person department. I'll make a decision on displaying newspapers at the events you outlined and get back to you.
From: Pranay Gupte
Date: Jul 12, 2006 11:44 AM
Subject: Re: My earlier e-mails
To: August Fields
Cc: Maggie Shnayerson, Seth Lipsky
Check your e-mails. I've been advising you guys for more than a day. If I can make the effort to get more visibility for the Sun, then I'm sure you can, too. Where I come from, people don't give excuses. The Sun deserves better.
Should I ask the South Asian Journalists Association to postpone its four-day convention (starting tomorrow) for a few more weeks while you're deciding whether the Sun should be displayed and distributed at Columbia University?
City University of New York couldn't wait any longer for you to make up your mind. It photocopied my profile of Audrey Ronning Topping in yesterday's paper and lavishly distributed the Sun at this afternoon's opening of her photo exhibit. Maybe you should write a letter of protest?
What's your problem, Augie? Don't you want the Sun to succeed?
From: August Fields to Pranay Gupte, Seth
Sent: Jul 12
The answer to both of your questions is that the Sun choses not to participate because it doesn't meet our business goals.
Further more, Seth will communicate with you from this point on. Do not communicate with me or any of my staff. Your pompous attitude gasbag-like carping is more than I care to deal with. I have instructed my staff to communicate with you only through the newspaper's senior editors.
From: Pranay Gupte
To: August, Seth
Sent: Jul 12
"Your pompous attitude gasbag-like carping is more than I care to deal with."
Wow! Lighten up, Augie. And don't put these idiotic things down on paper.
From: Seth Lipsky
To: Pranay Gupte
Sent: July 12
Pranay, please stop arguing with Augie. He's a very, very smart guy and knows where he wants to deploy his promotional resources. The fact that he doesn't want to do a distribution at this particular meeting is no big deal and shouldn't be the occasion or annoyance or anger or anything else. It's just something you shouldn't worry about.
From: Maggie Shnayerson
To: Pranay, Seth, August
Sent: Jul 22
I find it highly unprofessional to add a business colleague's name to an Internet device like namesdatabase.com which seeks to "reconnect old flames," and "find singles near you for new relationships." Regardless of your motive, my business email address is not yours to distribute as you wish. Please remember that in the future and I expect that this will not ever happen again. In fact, I also expect that you will do what you can to remedy the situation. Adding my professional email address to such an internet database opens up not only me, but the entire Sun company to extraneous spam, which is not your decision to make.
I am deeply offended, both personally and professionally, that you would make the choice to add my information to such a website.
As you know, I'm not permitted to communicate with you directly, so I am cc'ing both Seth Lipsky and my supervisor, Augie Fields, in this note.
To: Maggie, Seth, August
Sent: Jul 22
You may wish to reconsider before sending insulting and intemperate notes to me again, Maggie. I checked the namesdatabase.com site, and it isn't as sinister as you suggest in your ill-advised note to me. The following is culled directly from the site. As it happened, I had signed up for the data base after receiving an invitation from a friend in Bombay. For whatever reason, all 3,900 names in my personal data base subsequently got an invitation to add their names to MY data base. Your e-mail to me might lead someone to believe that Hezbollah was invading America. At any rate, it's not befitting you. And at 58, I certainly don't appreciate receiving such a note with its sly insinuations and overt hostility. Perhaps you may wish to cease and desist.
From: August Fields
To: Pranay, Maggie, Seth
Sent: Jul 22
This is just no longer acceptable. You're clearly goading for an argument. You will end you're communications with MY staff or I will have you email accounts blocked.
After checking I will tell you that the site you decided to inflict on the other 3900 of us in your address book (although I note that the TO: EVERYBODY" note didn't go out to everybody) is a spam mill. You agreed to the terms of service which clearly indicate that they own all of the information you supply to them. You then supplied them with our information, conveniently or not.
The tone and manor or my staffers email was neither unprofessional nor harsh. You bolixed it up for the rest of us. You should have apologized and moved on.
To: Seth, Ira, August, Maggie, Michael, Raluca
Sent: Jul 23
Dear Seth and Ira:
For a guy who works 24/7 for The New York Sun without pay — out of friendship toward you and a commitment to the Sun's success — I think I deserve better than these disgusting notes that your general manager and other wet-behind-the-ears toddlers in the business staff have been sending to me.
Not only am I dismayed, I am also perplexed that you would allow these idiots to continue their attacks on me. What seems to be their problem? Are they resentful of the efforts I make on behalf of the Sun? Do they have a color issue? Do these white boys and girls believe that a person of Indian origin — however accomplished in journalism, and however well known — doesn't really belong at a newspaper such as the Sun?
I would ordinarily be amused by such notes, characterized as they are by poor spelling, shallow thought and reckless hostility. But coming from within the Sun's organization, they are surprising and distressing. They not only demonstrate a lack of respect toward my own efforts to help the Sun through my pro bono writing and sustained ambassadorship, I submit these in-house correspondents also display a disregard of your own sensibilities. The writers clearly don't seem to be as invested in the Sun's success as the two of you are.
Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said that when a donkey kicks you, consider the source of the injury. There just seem to be too many donkeys in the Sun's business department. I wish these characters spent as much time and energy doing their job as they do in drafting foolish notes. They seem to consistently miss important marketing and public relations opportunities, they still cannot get their act together regarding the paper's electronic infrastructure, and their competence in business practices isn't terribly obvious. They seem to be clueless about the media scene in New York. Maybe their youth and inexperience explain such poor performance. I wonder if they would have lasted as long at any other journalistic institution.
Be that as it may, my concern — and the main reason that I'm writing this to you — is that there's no percentage in alienating me. I think I have proven my loyalty and friendship by writing free of charge for you for the last 20 months. You have told me — and others such as Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jim Michaels, and the Sun's investors — that my daily column, "Lunch at The Four Seasons," is the Sun's most popular feature. I enjoy writing these columns for you, and opinion pieces as well — and while I don't demand loud gratitude, I certainly don't expect vicious animosity against someone who bears good will toward the Sun and supports your stalwart efforts to keep it going against great odds in New York City.
There's also the question of judgment. The fact that the general manager, his PR chief, and others working under him actually put down their bitter thoughts about me in e-mails is appalling. They have created, shall we say, an interesting body of work — but one that I suspect the Sun is unlikely to be proud of.
I hope you will ask these people to cease and desist. I am not their enemy. But it's hard not to wonder if they are the Sun's enemy within.
As always, with best wishes,
Related: Falsehoods in the American Media [Pranay Gupte Blog]
Earlier: "White Boys and Girls" of the 'NY Sun' Drive Away Pranay Gupte